How to Start Your First Brand x Brand Collaboration

Creating a successful brand collaboration from scratch is daunting.

Brands are working harder than ever to stay relevant in an oversaturated market and collaborating with other brands offers an opportunity to restate our proposition, product or promotion in a fresh and interesting way. Brand collaborations have become an integral part of the fashion industry—from humble beginnings as a marketing strategy to gain visibility, they have evolved into a creative exercise that brings both strategic and creative benefits to all partners involved.

However, with opportunity comes the challenge of actually pulling it off. How can you know if another brand will be willing to collaborate? How do you initiate a collaboration with them? How and when should you commit resources to the collab and who should coordinate all the moving parts? to name just a few of the hanging questions.

In this blog post, we share insights on how to start your first brand x brand collaboration. So you don't have to sit on the sidelines any longer wondering how to get in the game.

What you should know before starting a brand collaboration

Before you dive into the logistics of finding partners and starting a collaboration, it’s important to ask yourself what your brand’s main objectives are for the collaboration.

This will help you frame your expectations around the collaboration and determine which brands are the best fit for what you’re trying to achieve. Keep in mind that brand collaborations are not one-size-fits-all and should be approached strategically based on your objectives and the needs of your brand. There are many ways to approach collaborations, but here are a few objectives to consider as you start your search for potential partners;

Build brand awareness - Collaborations are a great way to increase brand visibility by bringing attention to your product or service through the other partner’s audience.

Position yourself as an expert - By collaborating with other experts in your industry, you can demonstrate that you are an authority and help your brand become a leading voice in the space.

Expand your customer base - Collaborations can help bring new audience members to your brand and expand the reach of your core base.

Enter new markets - If your brand is looking to expand into new markets, it’s important to consider which brands will allow you to do so while also staying true to your brand identity.

Establish a process to find potential partners

When initiating a collaboration, you want to put yourself in a position to succeed by carefully selecting partners who are a good fit for your brand. Here are a few questions to ask to help you find the right partners for your collaboration.

What type of brand are you? - First, you should think about the type of brand you are. What are your core values? What is your overall mission? What type of product or service does your brand offer? What are your objectives for the collaboration?

Next, you should think about your objectives for the collaboration. What are you hoping to gain from the collaboration? Lastly, you should think about what you’re looking for in a partner. What are your core values? What are your brand’s strengths? What are the gaps in your strategy that you’re hoping to fill with a collaboration?

When is the right time to start a collaboration?

The best time to start a collaboration will largely be determined by the objectives of your brand and the type of collaboration you plan to initiate. If your brand is trying to build awareness and gain new customers, then likely a timed release like a holiday campaign will work best for you. If you’re trying to position yourself as an expert in your field or build relationships with other industry leaders, then it might be best to start the collaboration earlier in the year.

However, if your brand is trying to enter new markets, you may want to wait until the fall to start your collaboration. There are many great times to collaborate and many different types of collaborations that can be executed.

Because of this, you want to be strategic and intentional when deciding the best time to start a collaboration.

Pick your partners carefully

Brand collaborations can be a strategic and tactical win-win for all partners involved. However, it’s important to be thoughtful about the brands you choose to collaborate with. Certain factors will go into your decision when selecting partners, but there are a few main considerations you should keep in mind when selecting partners for your first brand x brand collaboration.

Relevance - First, you want to select partners who are relevant for your brand. While some brand partnerships are meant to be purely strategic, others have the potential to be mutually beneficial and provide value for both partners.

Fit - Second, you want to select partners who fit well with your brand. Collaborations are an opportunity to add unique value to your brand and help you stand out from the crowd.

Impact - Finally, you want to select partners who will make an impact on your brand. You want to be strategic and selective with your partnerships and make sure each partnership has the potential to bring real value and growth to your brand.

Create a brief with key requirements

Before you start reaching out to potential partners, it’s important to create a brief that outlines the details of your collaboration. A brief will help both you and the other partners better understand each other’s needs and goals for the collaboration. The brief should include a few key points to help you frame the collaboration and help your partners understand your needs.

Objectives - What are your objectives for the collaboration? What are you hoping to gain from the collaboration?

Brand - What is the vision and mission of your brand? What is your brand’s story? What makes your brand unique?

Offer - What do you want to give to the partnership? What value do you bring to the table?

Stakeholders - Who are the stakeholders in the collaboration? What are their roles? Who are the decision-makers?

Timeline - What is your ideal timeline for the collaboration? When do you want the collaboration to start and end?

Wrapping up

Collaborations are a great way to bring attention to your brand, build partnerships, and grow your customer base. Before you start reaching out to potential partners, make sure you understand your brand’s objectives for the collaboration and have a brief in place outlining key details about your partnership.

When you carefully select partners who are a good fit for your brand and have an offer that adds value, you can expect to build successful brand x brand collaborations.

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.