Audi and Airbnb Co-Brand. So Can You

Want. Want. Want.

The house and the car!

This ad for both (and that’s the point) Audi and Airbnb is great. It’s beautiful. It’s wry. It has subtle comic timing. And both brands —Audi and Airbnb — borrow brand power (brand equity) from each other.

This happens a lot with large consumer brands. Think Taco Bell selling Doritos Locos tacos. Or Lay’s selling Lay’s KC Masterpiece BBQ chips. (Whoa, just noticed KC can use a bit of social media help … calling them.) Or Ricky Gervais (sure he’s a celeb but he’s also a brand) selling Netflix to Australians. The sum is often greater than the parts in the consumer’s mind.

You Too Can Co-Brand

Can you do this in your marketing? You don’t have to be a huge brand to cooperate with a complementary company with an overlapping audience. Maybe, as one of the examples below shows, you can cooperate with a competitor/frenemy.

Some Examples from Smaller Brands

Tech & Coffee

When my friend and sometimes client Matt Trifiro was CMO at Mesosphere he served branded Philz coffee at Mesosphere’s Dockercon tradeshow booth. His cups were branded Mesosphere but he was not shy about the fact that the coffee was Philz. Some marketers would perform a different calculus and say “I have only a limited amount of real estate here and my customers have only a limited amount of space in their brains to receive my brand, so I’m not sharing! Harumph! Get off my lawn!” And there are instances where that makes sense. But Matt’s calculus was that Philz brought something to the Mesopshere brand it did not yet have on its own: a hipness, and a warm, human quality. So sharing was good. Of course Mesosphere co-brands on a far larger scale as well— through technology partnerships with the likes of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Qualcomm and Accenture. These partnerships are often not thought of as co-branding in the tech industry. But they certainly are a form of it.

Hotel Rooms & Art

Another example would be the Ace hotel in New York. They do some pretty cool co-branding with local artists by hanging their works in the hotel rooms and allowing guests to purchase them. This helps the hotel maintain its brand as hip, innovative, and artsy. And the artists get to associate with a luxury hotel, and a permanent mini-gallery.

Wildcats & Cardinals

You can even co-brand with a competitor. Consider this partnership between rivals: the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky. They partnered to create an executive MBA program. There clearly were many non-marketing reasons to do this, but the idea of two rivals coming together must have helped them get attention for the new program.

When to Co-Brand

Think about your brand. Can it be bolstered by associating with another brand. Will you have a real benefit to offer the other brand (in some cases the benefit can be as simple as money as in the Philz case above)? If so, consider having the conversation. Even if the conversation does not lead to an agreement,  you’ll meet another marketer who knows your audience—and learn something.

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Curious how BKW can help you tell your story effectively? Let’s talk

BKW Partners’ strategic, creative, and digital-first approach can help you break through the clutter and gain momentum. Our focus is on the technology and life sciences industries.

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