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Hello, Summerville! With the Lowcountry now firmly entrenched in the frosty temps of winter, you can dedicate more of your time spent indoors reading up on the specifics of marketing and social media strategy here on the Creative Consulting blog! The upcoming holidays present unique branding and marketing opportunities and, as always, Creative Consulting is here to make sure you take advantage of every available opportunity. We’re happy to have you here, where you’ll find the most relevant, up-to-date information about marketing your small business in the digital sphere. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting covers everything you could possibly need to know to take your business to the next level. We are accepting new clients at this time, so reach out to learn more about our services and meet our team!
In our last article, we discussed the power of earned media, which might be equated with “free PR.” While almost nothing is truly free, earned media is certainly more cost-effective than its opposite, paid media. When crafting a well-rounded marketing strategy, expert marketing teams are always on the lookout for opportunities to capitalize on the power of earned media. We gave a few examples of earned media, from Oreo’s Superbowl moment to Home Depot’s 12-foot skeleton, and how these companies drove exposure and boosted sales without spending a dime. We also investigated why earned media is an effective means of marketing before explaining how you can earn media for your business! Are there any drawbacks to earned media? Don’t worry—we covered that, too! Be sure to check out our last article when you’re done reading this one!
Today, we’re breaking down three new buzzwords: co-branding, affinity marketing, and cause marketing. We’ll provide you with a comprehensive overview of each, then delve into why you should endeavor to incorporate each into your marketing campaign. In our Marketing Trends of 2022 article, we discussed the increasing importance of supporting nonprofit organizations and being aware of your business’s societal and environmental impact. Cause marketing, in a sense, is the perfect answer to consumers’ need for change-based buying. Meanwhile, co-branding and affinity marketing are two commonly confused terms. We’ll explain the key differences between these two effective marketing strategies! As always, we’re pleased to be able to help further the growth of your small business through our educational content. We hope you’ll give a few of our other articles a read once you’re done here!
What is co-branding?
Co-branding is the result of two brands combining their products or services to offer increased value to their customers. Co-branding, unlike other types of branding and marketing ploys we’ll discuss later today, involves the creation of a new product or service. Therefore, when advertising, both brands are featured on the packaging or responsible for fulfilling said services. When two companies come together to co-brand, their purpose is singular: to increase the exposure of both brands. Partnerships between unequal brands are uncommon because the main draw of co-branding is the mutual benefit of both parties.
An example of co-branding is the iconic partnership between Taco Bell and Doritos. Together, both companies created the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco, which was branded as the best of both worlds. The Doritos Locos was wildly popular, leading to record sales and Taco Bell having to hire more staff nationwide. It’s been eleven years since the original launch and the Doritos Locos is still a staple on Taco Bell’s menu. Why? Because co-branding works!
However, it’s important to note, Taco Bell and Doritos were perfectly suited to become co-branding partners due to the similarities between their target audiences. As you can imagine, a partnership between Taco Bell and Dick’s Sporting Goods might be less successful. Therefore, in addition to seeking out co-branding partners which are of equal standing (i.e. similar reach and exposure), you must also seek out co-branding partners who have an audience which will be amenable to what your company offers.
What is affinity marketing?
Affinity marketing is similar to co-branding in that it involves two brands combining their services or products. However, affinity marketing does not entail the creation of a new product or service. To be affiliated means to be “officially attached or connected with.” Therefore, affinity marketing can occur when two brands announce a joint promotion. For example, when Spotify partnered with Uber to offer riders the chance to create a personalized playlist for their trips. Of course, you could already create playlists on Spotify. However, with this partnership, Uber rides could be made more enjoyable and Spotify could facilitate this enjoyment, thus offering increased value to consumers.
With affinity marketing, it's not necessary to have similar products or services. As you can see with the Spotify and Uber collaboration, sometimes offering different-but-complementary products and services is preferable. Affinity marketing can open up certain brands to untapped audiences, allowing them to grow their consumer base. While airlines might team up with rental car companies, credit card companies may collaborate with banks. Both co-branding and affinity marketing offer the chance for companies to be creative in their marketing campaigns.
What is cause marketing?
If co-branding and affinity marketing are when two companies come together to strengthen their brands and promote sales, cause marketing is when a company and a nonprofit organization come together to strengthen their brands and support a cause. As we mentioned previously in our article about marketing trends, there is an increasing interest among consumers in the societal and environmental impact of their favorite brands. Of course, treating each stakeholder with respect is the bare minimum, but companies can take corporate social responsibility a step further and win over consumers by seeking to make real, positive change in our society.
According to a recent study, a whopping 70% of consumers are interested in knowing how brands are endeavoring to address social and environmental issues (such as gender equality, climate change, etc.). As well, almost half of consumers pay close attention to the actions of brands on these fronts. A company seen to be socially-conscious, fair and equitable is much more likely to receive favor (and loyalty) from today’s consumers.
Chances are you’ve seen a cause marketing campaign, such as a company pledging to donate a portion of its profits to a particular charitable organization. TOMS is a widely known example of cause marketing, as they promised for every pair of TOMS shoes purchased by a customer, they would donate another pair of shoes to someone in need. While the results of this campaign were outstanding, it's important to note that cause marketing has benefits which far outweigh any profit earned. When companies lean into cause marketing campaigns, their reputation, employee morale, and relationship with their surrounding community are sure to improve!
Using Co-branding, Affinity, and Cause Marketing
The main hurdle to running a successful co-branding or affinity marketing campaign is choosing the right partner. If Taco Bell had chosen to partner with Lays, the campaign might not have performed as well. Why? Because Lays is a potato-based chip, while Doritos are a tortilla-based chip. Doritos also means “little golden things” in Spanish and Taco Bell sells Mexican food. These little details, while seemingly unimportant, play a major role in the success of a co-branding partnership. What you don’t want is for people to see the marketing campaign and say, “What? I’ve never thought about those two companies together.” The partnership should make sense to everyone involved, including the consumer.
With cause marketing campaigns, it's important to choose a cause which genuinely aligns with your company’s values. You’ll also need to take into account the values of your consumer base to make sure you do not alienate them. Simple monetary donations, while nice, are not the same as a cause marketing campaign. With a campaign, you’ll want to expand on your support of the nonprofit, whether that be volunteer groups of employees or interacting with your nonprofit partners publicly.
This has been so much fun! There are dozens of ways to brand your business, collaborate with other companies, and reach new audiences. We hope you’ll take advantage of the information we’ve shared in this article. For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered. Tune back in for our future articles! We’ll discuss a few more types of marketing campaigns, such as scarcity and undercover. You won’t want to miss it! Feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand. Until next time, thank you for reading!