Balenciaga x Gucci. Fendi x Versace. Prada x Adidas. These are just a few of the examples of brand partnerships that have happened recently in the world of fashion and luxury. But as with all things in fashion, what was once “hot,” now feels a bit “passé”.
Don’t get me wrong. Brand partnerships are not only one of the oldest tools in the marketing tool box, they also have a strong proven track record in terms of sales and awareness. We know it works.
You only have to look at the visibility generated for the Gucci x The North Face partnership, which launched in September 2020. The collaboration created an impressive $15.3M of media impact value across the campaign. Another example is the launch of the Air Max 96 as part of the Supreme x Nike brand collaboration, which despite not being their first collaboration, still generated over $1.63M of media impact value.
Luxury brands are aware of the power of collaborations and are delivering them at full speed. With 2022 just over half-way through, we have already seen numerous brand collaborations launched this year: from luxury brands going to athleisure route (Gucci x Adidas, Jacquemus x Nike, Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1, Mowalola x New Balance), those betting on our childhood nostalgia (Balmain x Barbie, Givenchy x Disney) to those taking it even further by merging the two brand names into one. Enters Fendace, Fendi & Versace’s high-profile fashion offspring.
However, the more important question these days when it comes to collaborations really seems to be why not instead of why that should really happen.
With so many new collaborations coming up every month, it is difficult to keep consumers interested, let alone excited and this marketing tool is slowly losing its shine.
It, therefore, bears the question: how can brand partnerships focus towards more purpose and meaning?
Through the following examples, we highlight collaborations that have shown to have a purpose beyond just sales, either by refocusing on a more human level, creating something truly unique, highlighting true complementarity, or even by enhancing their customers’ experiences. Collaborations with a stronger purpose.
It is widely acknowledged now that the next generation of consumers cares a lot more about the ethics and values of companies. A generation that expects brands to not only support important causes but most importantly to walk the talk.
When executed with the right partners, collaborations can be a great opportunity to support key initiatives in a genuine and impactful way.
This year, shoe brand Vans collaborated with UK charity Sisterhood to celebrate International Women’s Day throughout the month of March with a series of events. The organisation supports girls and non-binary folk aged 13-18 by giving them the skills and confidence to become strong creative thinkers and fierce leaders.
On top of that, they also partnered with Sarah Andelman (founder of Parisian concept store Colette) on a Vault by Vans collection which included the work of four female artists Julia Chiang, Sindiso Khumalo, Fumiko Imano, and Soko.
A well-rounded collaboration that involved partnering with an organisation that already had a strong authority on a specific issue, here the empowerment of young women, and which was further translated into a collection celebrating women around the world, by women for women.
Some collaborations just fit so well together that you couldn’t see it any other way. This is the case of the wildly successful Hermès x Apple Watch collaboration which started in 2015 and is still as appealing as ever.
Both brands have a shared legacy of impeccable design and attention to detail but what makes this partnership so successful is that each of these household names combined their particular strengths into a unique product. Apple brought innovation and technology while Hermès brought savoir-faire and elegance to create the most coveted smartwatch on the market. Seven years in and this partnership is still going strong with the new Apple watch Hermès Serie 7, a long-lasting collaboration that was not only a commercial success but also allowed each brand to tap into each other’s pool of loyal customers.
Another example is GoPro and Redbull. At first glance, the energy drink and action camera industries have very little in common. But both brands share a common vision, one of inspiring people to live a bigger life. While Redbull gives wings to people and their ideas, GoPro enables them to capture these thrilling moments.
A true embodiment of this partnership was the Stratos video which featured stuntman Felix Baumgartner historically jumping from a space pod above Earth’s surface. Felix’s Redbull branded space suit was fitted with 5 GoPro cameras capturing every aspect of the fall, an achievement that set 3 Guinness world records, generated massive buzz, and strongly highlighted both brands’ commitment towards living bigger than life.
These two examples of partnerships showcase the power of collaborating with brands that share or complement your values, vision, or audiences, thus creating authentic and long-lasting collaborations.
There are also brand partnerships that, beyond offering exciting products and experiences, also make your life easier and this is what luggage brand Away has done with their “Pack your bag” campaign.
Understanding the stress that can accompany the process of packing your bags for a trip, Away is set up to make travel more seamless and enjoyable for their customers. For several seasons, Away collaborated with a selection of highly-curated brands to offer a shopping experience allowing customers to not only purchase their new luggage but also get hand-selected travel essentials at the same time. The selections included items such as white sneakers by Koio Collective or a Pop & Suki cross-body camera bag, trendy items that were perfectly aligned with Away’s target audience.
This is a great example of a collaboration created with the consumers' behaviours and needs in mind, one with a strong purpose.
Brands evolving in the same category and collaborating on a product already being sold to their audience is probably the most common type of collaboration but what about creating something truly unique, bringing together two brands’ universes and expertise?
Fresh off the runway, Balenciaga and Bang & Olufsen just released the Speaker Bag, a bag enabled with a Bluetooth sound system which can play music. The limited edition of 20 pieces was unveiled during Balenciaga’s 51st couture show in Paris and embodies both companies’ love for boundary-pushing design.
An out-of-the-box collaboration strongly aligned with both brands’ universes and values.
At the end of the day, brand collaborations involving trendy high-profile brands will always generate buzz and excite people. But we have reached a stage where we are bombarded with new collaborations and there needs to be a shift for brands to ensure people continue to care.
Brands should ask themselves the following questions when considering new brand collaborations:
By doing so, brands will be able to go deeper in their partnerships with others to ensure they are creating something more meaningful while also having a better shot at standing out among the multitude of new collaborations.
Brand collaborations are a powerful marketing tool when done right. They require the right mix of creativity, relevant data, audience affinity, and strong compatibility. If you are interested in learning more about potential partnership opportunities that can help elevate your brand, feel free to reach out to us at DLG.