Co-branding Positions & Strategies

In the past 5 years, I’ve had a couple opportunities to co-brand some of our marketing material.  When we partered with Generac as a certified dealer, and also when we became an ActOnEnergy Program Ally, we received co-branding guidelines and responsibilities to follow.  Today I would like to take a few moments to reflect on the experience I’ve had in co-branding, and what I’ve learned. Every time we partner with another organization, both parties have benefited.  I recently ran across an article in The Journal of the American Academy of Business on co-branding positions and strategies.  In this article, Wei-Lun Chang writes that successful co-branding enhances product introductions, expands customer base, responds to customer needs, strengthens competitive positioning, creates customer-perceived value, and reduces marketing costs for at least on party. When IPE became an ActOnEnergy Program Ally, we were responding to the needs of our customers, who were keen to find ways to implement energy-saving technology in their facilities and receive incentives to undertake these projects.  Branding ourselves as a Program Ally added customer-perceived value to our services, because we could help some clients to obtain funding to cover project costs. On the other hand, co-branding with Generac had slightly different implications.  Generac gains access to a wider customer base by partnering with contractors like IPE.  At the same time, they are able to piggyback onto IPE’s marketing materials at no additional costs to themselves.  In return, IPE gets a boost in ethos through an association with a great brand and the ability to offer customers a solid range of products. From a design standpoint, it was great to explore the marketing materials that are provided in these situations.  Often, co-branding agreements including specifications involving logo size and placement in relation to images and text on documents.  Color schemes, font styles and sizes are also sometimes specified.  By following their guidelines, I am not only maintaining their company’s branding in our communications, but also intimately experiencing the components of their brand as I design marketing materials. A past example of a document I created following another company’s guidelines can be found here, in the Generac Generators Coupon.