Brand collaboration is the new competitive advantage

Whether choosing a business solution or a pair of shoes, most people engage with the world as consumers first and business decision-makers second.

Many consumer brands rely on collaborations to mold their brand perception, swap brand equity, and attract particular audiences. The success of these engagements explain why brand cross-pollinations are something to replicate across other industries. They work, because what they’re really producing for the world is a humanized brand interaction that functions more like a dynamic influencer than a static entity. It allows brands to build each other up and share in each other’s social capital, acting more like a mirror than a tail-coat rider.

But brand collaborations don’t just have to be consumer brand to consumer brand. Venture capital and private equity firms invest in cutting-edge companies that drive culture all over the globe. These firms are commonly known as financial collaborators, not brand collaborators—but that’s where the opportunity to display their investment relationship in a more dynamic, transparent way lives. It’s what Lightspeed Venture Partners did when they collaborated with their mega investment Snap Inc. before their IPO in 2017. Lightspeed took over their homepage with an overlay of all their investors’ individual congratulatory Snaps. No, it doesn’t have the same cultural cachet as the streetwear collabs we see in 2019—e.g. Ikea and Adidas making a custom shoe. But it’s openly supportive, and promotes LSVP’s role in their investments and Snap Inc’s receptivity to them as partners. It shows the chain of influence and removes the static concept of brand to create a dynamic brand partnership.

“Transparency has never been a more powerful tool for building brands.”

The firms able to realize the power of brand collaboration engage in a conversation between two worlds: the private world of industry knowledge, and the public world of culturally impactful businesses. Interacting with other brands beyond your craft demonstrate a POV that grabs attention, evokes your brand’s principles, and starts a ‘dialogue’ with your partners. The details of your partnership remain private, but the public aspects of it become ownable through demonstrating your involvement with them as they reach a new milestone. This creates a halo effect of endorsement and participation, much like that of an Instagram influencer. Intellectually we understand it as a form of support. But emotionally we comprehend it as friendship—relatable and humanizing for both parties. The fluidity of these types of brand relationships matches the fluidity of the cultural moment, and companies using this brand methodology inject a style of ‘dialogue’ into the ether (especially on social media) and become more relevant to us as consumers.

Every brand has an opportunity to approach their partners as a part of their brand, and they to you. Consumers typically understand any brand through the consumer lens, regardless of a brand’s industry or whether they’re consumer facing or not. Building a relationship and supporting each other cross-industry allows consumers to connect with both brands while evoking the shared purpose between your brand and another.