Decoding Technology Marketing

What to consider when you’re co-marketing big brands

Erin Shea wrote this on Nov 5 / 1 comment

Erin Shea thrives on helping make her clients shine through a thoughtful, focused approach to technology marketing.


Co-marketing has been in place since people started selling things. We see it everywhere. Apple and Nike, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks, Visa and the Super Bowl, Dell and Intel. The list goes on.

No surprise here, there are plenty of good reasons to do it. Just to name a few:

·         Greater value for the customer

·         Higher market share and revenue potential

·         Better competitive positioning

·         More brand recognition

There’s typically a good business justification for co-marketing, but just as important should be the value and benefit to the customer. In the tech industry, co-marketing is often a fundamental component of marketing strategy. As a result, I’ve worked on many campaigns that involve more than one big brand. Big brands have their own market share, their own recognizable image, and their own story that is familiar to many.

So how do you bring two or more clearly-defined and established brands together to tell a unique story? Here are four questions I always ask before starting a co-marketing engagement or campaign.

  1. What’s in it for the customer? The real value. Not just companies thinking that their co-branded offer is the best thing since sliced pizza. There’s a lot of value in bringing different products or services together to deliver an even better, more comprehensive solution to customers. When creating co-marketing assets I ask myself “Can I replace the name of company 1 and 2 with their competitors and have the message still hold true?”. If the answer is no, then I’m on the right path to creating something that demonstrates unique value to the customer.
  2. Where do the stories for each brand conflict or complement each other? It doesn’t always make sense to share 100% of each company’s brand story. You have to find parts within each to create a new sum (value).  It’s like mixing and matching outfits from your closet – some combos of clothing items look great together while others just seem odd. The best way to come up with the right mix is to develop new joint positioning and messaging that is specific to the offer/value being co-marketed.
  3. Does the positioning of one brand create a negative perception for the other? It’s important to make sure you don’t create unintended competition or discredit aspects of the brands involved. It’s easy to do this when the companies co-marketing have similar products or services they sell. Understanding the full portfolio for each brand is an easy way to avoid stepping on toes.  
  4. How do you balance both brands to create visual harmony? Balancing the aesthetics of multiple brands can be very difficult if you try to combine them without a visual strategy. It usually works best to create a new visual identity that leverages the best and most critical aspects of each brand.

In my own experience, developing messaging and a visual identity tailored to the co-marketing effort has been the key to success. Without these foundational items, a lot of time and money gets wasted.  

Erin Shea wrote this on Nov 5 / There are 1 comment
Siobhan 5 Nov 13

Great post Erin! And a gentle reminder to think of the customer in all the co-marketing materials we create.

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