BMW and Louis Vutton co-branded partnership
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Co-marketing vs co-branding: What’s the difference?

June 24, 2022

Co- marketing and co-branding are terms that are often confused as the same thing, with some people using them interchangeably. The truth is, despite both of these being an avenue for brands to leverage their uniqueness and strength through collaboration, there are differences between them. To help you get a better understanding of how you can use co-marketing and co-branding to grow your business, we’ve defined both terms and provided examples below.

What is co-branding?

MasterCard-and-Apple-Pay
MasterCard and Apple Pay

Co-branding is a subset of co-marketing that refers to the strategic alignment of two or more brands in an attempt to increase brand awareness. This is usually done by them creating new products or services which are marketed with all their logos, brand colors, and other assets which are a part of their corporate identities.

This type of co-marketing offers many advantages for the brands involved, allowing them to gain more exposure and sales, particularly in the instance where a small brand decides to work with a bigger one for a co-branded partnership. 

Here are some advantages of brands entering co-branding partnerships: 

Advantages of co-branding  

Starbucks + Spotify
Starbucks and Spotify's co-branded partnership

Not only can co-branding help you build meaningful and long term relationships with other brands, but it’s also a great way to keep your customers engaged as well as grow your customer base. Other advantages of co-branding include:

You’ll grow your reach

When choosing a brand to partner with, make sure you both share similar audiences. This will help you with not veering too far off from your brand values and also attracting an audience that may not be familiar with your offerings, but is likely to be receptive. By using co-branding effectively, you’ll be able to venture in new markets much easier than if you were doing it on your own. 

You’ll strengthen your current customer relationships

Loyal customers will appreciate your co-branding efforts because it will breathe new life into your brand. It will also allow you to better solve any issues your current customer base may have in a creative way. Added to that, customers also appreciate supporting a brand that continues to grow, and nothing screams ‘growth’ like partnering with another equally amazing brand on a unique product or service. 

You’ll increase your creativity

The classic saying ‘one plus one equals three’ is true. When two or more people put their minds together, the end result is nothing short of amazing. The synergy that is created by the right co-branding partnership will likely lead to a boost in creativity. 

You’ll improve your brand sentiment 

If you’re looking for a way to improve how people feel and think about your brand, a co-branding partnership might help you do just that. Your brand sentiment can also improve if you work with a brand that has already established a good reputation. 

You’ll save money 

Developing a product or service on your own can be quite expensive, but doing it with a partner who’s just as invested means splitting costs and ultimately, saving money. 

Examples of co-branding 

  1. Doritos and Taco Bell's Locos Tacos

The Taco Bell Locos Taco inside a red Doritos bag

In 2012, Doritos and Taco Bell debuted their co-branded product, Locos Tacos, a nacho-cheese flavored taco shell with the usual delicious Taco Bell stuffing. This co-branded partnership was a huge success because most Americans are aware of the Taco Bell brand as well as Doritos, which is one of the most popular chip brands in the country. It just made sense for these two renowned brands to collaborate, especially considering they have similar audiences.

This co-branding partnership sold a billion units in the first year, which is proof of how successful it was.

  1. Nike and Apple 

Three Apple Watch Nike+ watches

Apple and Nike introduced their co-branding product, the Apple Watch Nike+, in 2016. This product is a mix of the Apple Watch Series2 and Nike Sport Bands and offers water resistance, a dual-core processor, GPS, and a display that's two-times brighter.

This is the ideal co-branding partnership because Nike is a clothing fitness brand whose audience is primarily people who are interested in health and fitness. The people who buy Apple watches are not only lovers of tech gadgets, but they tend to be people who are interested in health and fitness too. The Apple Watch Nike+ helps people easily track their athletic performance and health stats, making running and other athletic activities simple to track.

  1. Cadbury and Oreo

A cadbury chocolate wrapper with the oreo logo on it

Cadbury and Oreo are brands that are owned by the corporation Mondelez. They decided to combine both of their brands to create a co-branded product that would help boost sales and offer an exciting snack to foodies and fans of both Cadbury and Oreo.

  1. Mastercard and Virgin

An image of a red Virgin branded Mastercard

In collaboration with Mastercard, Virgin launched a credit card that offers rewards for Virgin Atlantic customers who are avid travelers. It allows them to get great discounts and deals on airlines and hotels after accumulating points from swiping.

What is co-marketing?

Co-marketing, also known as partnership marketing, is a form of marketing that includes two brands coming together to create a mutually beneficial campaign that will enable both of them to reach new audiences. The difference between co-marketing and co-branding is that co-marketing doesn’t include two brands creating a product that they will market together, but they rather create a marketing campaign to raise brand awareness and achieve business goals instead. 

Related: 7 Benefits of partnership marketing

Advantages of co-marketing

Co-branding partnership between UNICEF and Target on Kid Power Bands
UNICEF and Target partnership

The advantages of co-marketing are similar to those of co-branding. Here are some reasons why your brand should use co-marketing as a strategy for growth:

It’s cost effective

You’ll easily save money, time and other resources when partnering with another brand because you’ll be able to split costs and labor. 

You’ll attract loyal customers

Working with a brand with a similar audience means you’ll attract customers who are likely to find your product or service appealing, which makes it easier to convert these customers and turn them into life-long supporters of your business. 

It’s an alternative to paid advertising 

Advertising revenue is decreasing significantly and is concentrated among a few top international companies. By 2023, businesses can expect third party cookies to be phased out in favor of cookieless marketing. It’s important for businesses to find alternatives to paid advertising before the tide turns, so that they can avoid losing revenue and find new ways to reach customers while spending less. 

Lego House in collaboration with Airbnb. The house is a private playground filled with Legos for people to build wiith. There is a family of 4 in the photo
Airbnb and Lego

Brand recognition

By working with well-known brands, you’ll increase brand recognition and make it easier for people to identify with your brand. Bear in mind that well known brands are relative. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to work with huge corporations, but you can certainly partner with local brands that are making waves in your vicinity.

Related: Simple partnership marketing checklist

You’ll encourage word of mouth

Even in the digital era, word of mouth marketing is still one of the most powerful (and free) forms of marketing. By co-marketing with another brand, you’ll increase the likelihood of customers promoting you to their friends and family. 

Increased profits and return on investment

The premise of running a business is to make profit. Co-marketing increases profits and ROI because you’ll be spending way less on expenses while reaching a wider audience, allowing you to make a return on investment.

Our examples of co-marketing can be viewed here. 

Although similar in function, co-marketing and co-branding are different. Co-marketing describes a partnership between two or more brands whereas co-branding is one of many partnership forms and refers to two brands merging their brand identities to create a new product or service. Using all this information, including the above, you can implement both co-marketing and co-branding into your business.

What is Intribe? 

Intribe helps brands partner up to enjoy collaborative partnership marketing opportunities. Our clients tell us this delivers 10x the conversions of traditional advertising channels. 

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