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It is easy to perceive the world through the eyes of the lone wolf where it’s either eat or be eaten, but as of late, more and more brands have banded together to create an unstoppable force and most likely a paradigm shift in the rules of survival that we know today.

Brand collaboration used to be an option for brands that wanted to create hype or a one-off product range, but now exists as a very formidable branding norm, no longer seen as a parasitical strategy but one of promise.

Singular brands once had to rely on themselves to create products and on their specific customers to buy them, but now the world has changed – in which brand competitors are its new collaborators, and customers are the new designers, marketers and retailers (thanks to this new fangled Internet).

This is a dawn of a new era as these new methods of cooperation and symbiosis have forever changed the brand ecosystem we exist in today:

Hunting As A Pack

The best part about symbiotic brand relationships is that it enables brands to extend their product lines to reach new customer they couldn’t have normally reached before. In parallel, this creates publicity and challenge people’s preconceptions of a product.

This can clearly be demonstrated when you consider Nike’s run of collaborations in 2012. The sportswear brand joined forces with Apple, London department store Liberty, denim brand Levi’s, artist Tom Sachs, the University of the Arts London, skateboard clothing brand Supreme and French clothing brand APC that created a brand that is continually evolving to fit new consumer groups.

Sharing Your Turf

It is also wise to look around and consider your environment as mass-market fashion retailers have been moving in to unchartered territory – setting up shop in in high-end locations in hopes to appeal to the everyday aspirational but cash-strapped consumer.

For instance, Missoni and Target both co-branded producing a range of 400 products that included product categories even outside the fashion world. This was so successful, that the pop-up shop that introduced this partnership line sold out in just two days and had to close early. When the range hit the online market, Target’s website crashed and sold out once again.

Cross Breeding

There are also some brands that hijack names and logos of more established brands to increase their influence, often using the same visual cues, names and connotations that consumers associate with famous providers.

An example of this type of hijacking is the application Pinstagram; a hybrid that is half social pinning like Pinterest and half photo sharing like Instagram. The combination of the two apps created an entirely new offering, leading to more Pinstagram downloads as people responded to its unique product, while Instagram and Pinterest received more traffic as a result of association.

It is vital to remember that brand rivalry does not always serve the customer nor does it cater to their interest. By teaming up with your competitors, you just might give your target audience a better experience as we are approaching an age where brands will no longer be about products but about communities, networks, lifestyles and platforms.

Look pass your worries of either being perceived as the remora or the shark, and usher your brand into a phase beyond product.

Is your brand prepared for symbiosis?

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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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