- Choose your partners (brands, celebs, influencers, artists etc) based on shared value and vision. A mismatch in culture may backfire on you, so positive common ground is the best focus.
- Analyse your audience and your partner’s audience. Are they different? Are they complimentary? Will your partner’s audience think you’re relevant to their life? The beauty of a good partnership is reaching an entirely new audience who will love your brand too.
- Look after your existing audience first. Don’t forget about their needs and expectations from your brand, actions and marketing. Alienate them and you’ll regret it later. The whole point of a partnership is to grow your audience, not shrink it.
Partnerships should do 3 key things – help both parties reach new audiences, offer something new and cool to the audience and add to both parties’ street cred. And this is what North Face’s most recent collaboration with Gucci is doing.
For a company that is pretty reserved with its collaborations, North Face‘s partnership with Gucci is very exciting. It’s said that the partnership is revolving around very important concepts such as circularity and sustainability – LOVE IT! North Face is known for it’s outdoorsy “Never Stop Exploring” the great outdoors, so protecting the environment is only a natural brand position. Gucci on the other hand is part of the Kering group of fashion houses, which is leading the way for sustainability in the world of fashion. Kering is pretty proud of its spearhead Stella McCartney and initiatives like partnering with the University of the Arts in London to provide free education around sustainability in fashion.
Both North Face, and Gucci are on the same mission, so a collaboration makes sense. But why else are brand partnerships so powerful? What are the benefits?
Brand heat, hype and changing perceptions
Brand perceptions are crucially affected by partnerships and collabs. In the case of North Face x Gucci, it’s been referred to as “brand heat”. When partnerships are successful they build hype and excitement and adapt how they are seen. In the case of North Face, they are seen as more high end and exclusive, while Gucci is traditionally high end luxury and the collab with an outdoor-turned-street wear brand lends an air of cooler street style. This helps new audiences (for both brands involved) remember the brands and consider them next time they’re wanting to make an outdoors, street wear or luxury purchase.
Offering something new and reaching new audiences
In addition to benefiting from hype, partnerships are such a sure fire way of injecting a little freshness into the brand. For example, in the luxury market, it is so easy to become “old and stale” and boring, and strolling down London’s Bond Street, there’s always a mix of the cool and the less cool high end, it’s obvious who’s who… Gucci could quite easily be one of the stale brands, but fortunately the business minds over there have an eye for good collabs – be those celebrity partnerships, artist partnerships or brand partnerships. They are keeping it fresh.
Your standard North Face customer (helloo! That would be me! How about you?) is not necessarily someone who tends to frequent Gucci. The best collaborations open both parties up to entirely new audiences, giving them the chance to potential double their customers.
Key considerations for your brand partnership
So what do you think of North face x Gucci then? I love a brand partnership, they are so exciting and fun. And I hope you feel the same! So, how can you go about your own brand partnership? First and foremost, the brands you choose to partner with are of utmost importance. They can amplify your brand in a positive way just as much as they can be brutally damaging… It’s all in who you partner with and why. When you’re exploring potential brand partners, you should ensure your brand value align with theirs. It’s then worth considering if the partnership with allow you to access an audience that is relevant to you. This is a huge benefit of partnerships so make sure you’re utilising partner audiences where possible. And then finally, it is key to ensure your existing audience will benefit from the partnership – you have to make sure you’ll looking after them. If they get alienated, you’re risking losing existing fans of your brand.