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Sylvester Chauke Opinion: Partnerships made in brand heaven

How many times have you looked at a couple and thought, “jeez, what a weird combo!” Don’t judge me please, you know exactly what I am talking about!

Jokes aside, this is a real issue especially in the world of brands. Just like when you’re at a lekker braai and see a couple that seems like they scored a jackpot in each other, there's something brilliant about brand partnerships that work. It’s like marrying two entities into one delicious experience for consumers to enjoy.

Brand collaborations or co-branding is a strategic marketing and advertising partnership between two brands where the success of one brand brings success to its partner brand, too. It can be an effective way to boost awareness and break into new markets and spaces. It’s pretty obvious however that in order for this to work, there has to be a win-win for all in the mix. Both audiences need to find value – I cannot tell you how many fights I have had trying to bring this point across in boardrooms.

In the last week, I have been pleasantly inspired by some really cool partnerships that gave birth to this week’s topic. I love it when partnerships make sense and when it feels like a partnership made in brand heaven; not forced, not gimmicky and feels easy and light!

At SA Fashion week last week, chocolate-loving fans had such a treat in Aero and Rich Factory when they made chocolate oh so fashionable with a collab that fused chocolate into fashion so beautifully. I looked and that and thought, delish!

Then in the same week, Black Coffee and Axe hit us with an uber cool collaboration with a fitting olfaction worthy of one of the best DJs in the world. Castle Lite took things extra cold with their collaborations with Warras and Dash on the launch of Africa’s very first Ice Bar which was so dope and sickening in its coolness. Also reminded me of that gorgeous collaboration between BMW and Mama Ester Mahlangu that moves the spirit and makes BMW extra luxe.

Internationally, there has been fantastic collabs too; my favourites being Hermes and the Apple Watch, Madonna and Louis Vuitton (you saw this coming), Balmain and H&M, GoPro and Redbull Stratos to name a few.

South Africa is trailing slightly behind when it comes to pure Brand on Brand collaborations that are worth noting but we will be seeing this do a full 180 in the next few years as many brands share and showcase the power of great collaborations. By then, marketers would have more than warmed up to the idea. Marketers who insist on a mono-brand approach, however, are going to struggle to fit in with this new world order. Eish.

Effective brand partnerships have to feel synergistic. Both parties need to bring something interesting to the table - otherwise, consumers will view the partnership as merely a marketing gimmick.

These creative partnerships demonstrate that the power of pairing-up does indeed boost revenue, audience and reach in ways that also adds a nice twist to the brands in partnership. This reminds us that collaborations are indeed the future of marketing and I suspect we will be seeing so many more yummy partnerships in the future. I can’t wait!

Sylvester Chauke is an award-winning entrepreneur and cascader of the Stand Against Bland movement in marketing amongst other fun things. He is founder and Chief Architect of DNA Brand Architects, sits on the Advisory council for WEF Global Shapers and is a Board Member of the South African State Theatre.


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