After we were presented with a brief to create some dual-branded material for one of our clients, Claire Baldwin conducted some research into the winners and losers in the world of dual branding. The results are in.

When done well, brand partnerships can be hugely beneficial for everyone involved. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of opportunities to ruin the reputations of both companies.

Let’s look at some dual branding and see what makes a good collaboration.

Spotify and Uber

One factor in the success of dual branding is both companies having similar objectives and target markets. This was definitely the case for the collaboration between music streaming service Spotify and taxi service Uber.

Spotify announced in 2014 that premium account holders would be able to stream their own playlists during Uber rides. This enhanced the experience of riding with Uber and also encouraged Spotify users to upgrade their account to benefit from the collaboration.

By understanding the whims and interests of their target markets, rather than just their needs, Spotify and Uber managed to create a successful collaboration that was beneficial for both companies, as well as their customers.

Covergirl and Star Wars

When you think of collaborations, makeup brand Covergirl and sci-fi franchise Star Wars don’t necessarily seem like the best fit. However, when Covergirl released a Star Wars collection to coincide with the 2015 release of The Force Awakens, it was a huge success.

The limited edition range featured lipsticks and nail polishes in bold, sci-fi shades, and even mascara with iconic Star Wars quotes on the tubes (Of the 10 choices I’d opt for: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”).

A makeup collaboration at the time of the original Star Wars movies in the ’70s would likely have been a flop, as the movies were seen to be ‘for guys’. However, modern audiences and cultural shifts allowed Covergirl to take advantage of a crossover audience that didn’t exist at the time of the original movies. And with The Force Awakens’ strong, female protagonist Rey, the joint branding felt all the more appropriate.

Shell and Lego

Both being Danish companies, the partnership between Shell and Lego seemed to make sense when it first started around 50 years ago. Lego created Shell-branded petrol stations and race cars in its toy range, benefiting from added realism and access to Shell’s supply streams. Shell got its brand exposed to new customers from a young age and was able to convey a family-friendly image.

However, with increased global awareness of some of Shell’s less-than-environmentally-friendly practices, the suitability of the partnership was called into question. In particular, people asked whether Shell was an appropriate brand for children to be so blatantly exposed to from such a young age.

Greenpeace put heavy pressure on Lego to cut ties with Shell, and the accompanying public outcry eventually led to the end of the partnership.

So what makes good dual branding?

Dual branding seems to work best when:

  • the brands have complementary audiences

  • both brands have similar ethics

  • there is a clear objective or goal

  • the collaboration benefits both brands as well as their customers

However, success can be hard to predict. Collaborations that sound perfect can sometimes fall flat, and those that seem doomed to fail can turn out to be wildly successful.

It’s important to think about what your aims are with dual branding and not to jump into a partnership without considering how it will affect both brands and their audiences.