The use of strategic partnerships can become an important way of building a brand – by helping meeting consumer needs in innovative ways and creating meaningful difference, according to a BrandZ executive.

Writing exclusively for WARC, Martin Guerrieria, who leads the research function of the Global BrandZ study, notes that both innovation and meaningful difference are key factors that will help brands amplify growth.

In BrandZ’s research, brands that scored highly on these two measurements grew by 11% year-on-year, while brands that were perceived to be less so declined by -37%.

“Brands must become different but in a meaningful way,” Guerrieria argues. “They should add value to consumers’ lives, provide convenience and communicate this in a clear way which allows an emotional connection to be made.”

And while some are capable of achieving this by themselves, “many more are cosying up with each other across different categories and creating clear points of difference”. (For more details, read the full article: Why partnerships are proving pivotal for long-term brand building.)

Brand partnerships can be used to meet various objectives. Burberry’s partnership with Instagram, for example, not only helped the high-end fashion brand build anticipation and promote its fashion shows, but as new garments became instantly available after a show Burberry’s own calendar was affected.

“Speed to market, helped by Burberry’s partner Instagram, proved more effective at raising awareness and engaging new customers than the need for new design or creative direction,” Guerrieria observes.

There have also been notable cross-category collaborations, such as that which created the Apple Watch Nike+, a product that appeals to a niche consumer audience of runners.

Linking up with a cause is another route to achieving meaningful difference. Adidas’s partnership with Parley for the Ocean, to launch sportswear products made from up-cycled plastic waste collected from coastal communities, has been a factor in its rapid growth that has pushed it into the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking for the first time.

While the qualities that Guerrieria believes are essential to a brand in today’s retail environment are no guarantee of success – a lot of competitive promotional activity and creative communication happens on the way to the sale – he maintains that “partnerships that are both meaningful and different are much more likely to have a positive impact on brands helping them to stay strong, ensure longevity and deliver long-term, added value.”

Sourced from WARC