Brand partnerships can create a short cut to competitive edge, but when they go wrong, they are costly in terms of resources, time wasted and brand reputation, so it’s important to understand where mistakes commonly occur.
Writing in the November issue of Admap (topic: partnering for growth), brandgym’s Simon Gore acknowledges the many successful brand partnerships – from James Bond and Aston Martin to Love Island and Uber Eats – but suggests there is much to learn from the unsuccessful ones, of which he has plenty of examples.
One such lesson comes from the diverging paths of Shell and Lego, which had enjoyed a fruitful and solid partnership since the 1960s. Shell branding featured on Lego garage and tanker pieces, and in turn Lego toy sets were distributed at Shell petrol station in 26 countries (in a deal worth £68m).
Lego claimed its relationship with Shell had a positive impact on the world by inspiring children with its toy sets, and Shell obviously enjoyed its association with the family-orientated, positive values of Lego.
But in 2014, with Shell increasing its drilling activities in the Arctic, Greenpeace decided to target Shell through Lego, and highlight what it regarded as an ill-advised association.
Miniature protest banners were added to models of buildings in Legoland, Windsor, while a campaign video, built with 120kgs of Lego and featuring an innocent Arctic scene of people, animals and icebergs being drowned in crude oil, entitled “Everything is not awesome”, attracted 5.9 million views.
Under pressure, Lego finally ended its partnership contract with Shell, realising they were no longer compatible, and that further association would damage the Lego brand’s core.
This example falls into the first of four reasons for brand partnerships failing, says Gore. These are:
1. Misaligned values: when the two brands start out as seemingly compatible, but over time move apart in consumers’ minds, or worse still begin to conflict.
2. Poorly defined agreements: when the two partners have not agreed every aspect of the partnership and its deliverables in enough detail, and are left disappointed.
3. Lack of trust: when there is a lack of personal commitment in the deal, and the potentially valuable partnership turns sour through suspicion and hidden agendas.
4. Poor execution: when the thinking behind the partnership is on strategy for both parties, but the actual implementation is misguided and damaging.
By ensuring partnerships don’t fall into these traps, brands have a far greater chance of success, he advises.
Sourced from Admap