Five Collab Types Every Brand Can Use

Every brand wants to grow. Brands grow faster when they work together.

Brand collabs arethe best way to cut through the digital clutter to reach customers in new and exciting ways.

Use this is guide to start your creative wheels turning and contact us at the link below to get moving faster to find partners, products and promotions to take your growth plans to the next level.

The Five Collab Types

  1. Brand proposition

A brand proposition collab is one that a brand enters into to support its core brand proposition, propositions, or beliefs. The collab exists to reinforce the elements, principles and distinguishing proposition the brand stands for through its product and services.

For example. Athletic Brewing, a non-alcoholic beer brand that promotes itself as a beer for the healthy outdoor athlete has a collab with Alterra Mountain company and also Two for the Trails.

These collabs are typically persistent and ongoing. They are often conducted with a partner that isn’t a product company (as in the examples cited for Athletic) but owns a positioning.

They look like a co-branding or sponsorship. The key is they support the impression the brand is trying to create with the customer about who they are, not simply what they sell, rather than selling the product directly.

  1. Co-marketing

Co-marketing collabs are conducted by brands to take advantage of an event, season, timing, or a service (such as delivery). The collabs help the two brands make sense of each other in the context of the co-marketed event.

For example, Athletic brewing ran a co-marketing collab with Drizly over the January period to promote non-alcoholic options for dry January. This made sense for both brands. Drizly is an alcohol delivery service…that can go slow during January. Athletic is an alternative to alcoholic beer. A co-marketing campaign in January thus makes sense for both brands.

No new product is created, and the collab doesn’t reinforce the brand positioning for Athletic…but it claims attention for the service provided by Drizly and the market presence that Athletic has achieved.

  1. Promotional

Promotional collabs are the first cousin of co-marketing collabs with the addition of a “if this then that”, or “get this with that” mechanic. These are typically time-bound and reinforce or support an existing campaign or campaign period. They are particularly effective when the products that are promoted together improve the experience of each other.

For example, during the 2023 Super Bowl, Molson/Coors ran a very successful promotional collab with Draft Kings to create excitement and interest in their ad, which at the same time created hundreds of thousands of sign-ups for a game that Draft Kings ran.

Gaming combining with beer to add to the enjoyment and entertainment of the game.

4. Product

A product collab is a collab brands create to make a new product or version of a product, together.

These are the collabs that people are most familiar with. Recent examples are Pepsi x Peeps, Nike x Tiffany, Athletic Brewing x Justins Nut Butters, Supreme x Everyone.

They need little introduction and typically drive near-term interest and sales. While typically, brands look for synergies and overlapping audiences, these collabs can also create paradoxes and new lenses by which to appreciate the brands.

Unlikely partnerships cause customers to stop, think and engage. They can create iconic new designs, expand the perception of the brand (for example Oura Ring and Gucci) or just create fun.

Some brands such as Crocs and Goodr have used their design motifs and equity to create a canvas for other brands to overlay their marketing. Product collabs are almost inexhaustible in their range…but can be a challenge to pull through to the finish line.

  1. Stacked

Collabs of each type can stand a lone but they also work well when stacked together. Product collabs will often be stacked with promotional collabs to amplify the effect. Brand proposition collabs stack well with co-marketing and promotional collabs.

All collabs increase the creativity, marketing and communications range of the brand. Enabling it to reach customers beyond their perceived borders and excite renewed and new interest with customers in unexpected and impactful ways.

A well planned and executed collab strategy is Nitric-Oxide for a brand's growth plans. Contact us today to find out how to get off the sidelines and into the game.

Andy Heddle
Andy, heads up our business development work here at Colaboratory. Originally from England, he married a Scot and now lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two American-born daughters.