Businesses often partner with other brands — ones that are either within their industry or that target the same consumer segments — to collaborate on various projects that can enable both to improve brand affinity, extend their reach, and produce better services. Also known as co-branding, there are a number of reasons companies choose to engage in complementary partnerships.
Within the tech industry, for instance, companies can form alliances with other organizations to develop software and tools that cater to similar audiences and could integrate with one another. Rather than treating each other as competitors, businesses in this situation can create complementary partnerships to either:
When a business pools its resources with complementary companies, everyone reaps the rewards. Additional ways in which these sorts of partnerships can manifest include:
For companies that want to offer their customers a more comprehensive experience, it’s worth exploring potential collaborations with other businesses that share similar audiences and values.
To ensure the success of every new complementary partnership, it’s important the agreement is structured, the deliverables are clear, and both teams are well-organized. Like all aspects of your business, prior to working out a partnership, each entity should do their due diligence on the prospective partner's offerings and define what goals they aim to meet through the collaboration. When you properly plan and organize, a partnership with another expert or corporation can facilitate even more brand recognition, customer loyalty, and sales for both parties.
Three important benefits of complementary partnerships include:
Your business is a unique organization. Often owners see other companies using strategies such as complementary partnerships and don't immediately see how that model would work in their space.
For instance, an entrepreneur who offers classes and consulting as a service might not recognize how a partnership could benefit them. However, it’s almost a certainty that there are other professionals in either the same or adjacent industries who can complement your existing services.
In consulting fields, many experts use a strategy to leverage the platforms of other thought leaders in their specific field and vertical. You can build similar complementary partnerships with these category experts by offering classes through their platforms, and vice versa. Other options include joint publishing ventures and co-hosting courses.
Sometimes complementary partnerships can form organically, initiated through conversations with other business owners at conferences or events, or even on social media. It’s important that your team is open to the idea of collaboration and cross-promotion, which can then lead to serendipitous opportunities to add products and services to your sales arsenal that you wouldn't be able to offer without another organization involved.
The success of a partnership, of course, hinges on both parties committing a mutually agreed-upon amount of effort and resources with the goal of both organizations benefiting from their relative investments.
There are many benefits to a well-organized complementary partnership. Of course, partnering with the right business ensures you can comfortably maintain a consistent brand message, effectively engage your target audience, and maximize your return on investment.
Due diligence is the key to determining whether a complementary partnership is right for your business and your potential partner. In some cases, a joint effort with another organization can accelerate the growth rates for both businesses and enable you to tap into new markets. That said, these goals are only achievable when you team up with a company that holistically aligns with yours in a number of different ways, and the initiative is well-planned and well-documented prior to launch.
Since each company brings their own unique brand, culture, and resources to the table, it can be challenging to create a list that itemizes the steps for a successful co-branding partnership. Each collaborative opportunity needs to be assessed and launched in an individual manner.
That said, there are four key tips that make it easier to facilitate a strong and complementary partnership.
For companies, complementary partnerships offer a way to reach new leads and continue to innovate for loyal customers. The best of these co-branding efforts results in long-term collaborations that allow both organizations to expand across markets, better engage existing audiences, and increase profitability.