Finding the perfect fit in creative brand partnerships

RetailME Bureau

Today brands are thinking of building fresh and creative partnerships and reaching customers in new ways while still achieving a return on investment. This was a focus area at one of the sessions – on creating brand partnerships – at the National Retail Federation 2016 Retail’s Big Show.

While sharing secrets of mutually beneficial brand relationships, Tricia Nichols, global lead of consumer engagements and partnerships for GAP, spoke of a partnership between GAP and Virgin Hotels.

Leveraging GAP’s reserve in-store technology, visitors to the Chicago Virgin hotel can now shop the retailer’s catalogue online and have items brought to their rooms within hours, with purchases added to their hotel bills.

GAP and Virgin, Nichols said, were like-minded brands to begin with, each taking cues from music, art and culture. GAP provided denim for Virgin employees, and the shared ‘brand love’ inspired new ways to connect. “We got brand married. We exchanged assets,” she quips.

“For us, it’s been a really interesting partnership. We’re testing things that hadn’t been done,” she shares. “Another great thing about these partnerships is that you don’t know where they will go. The consumers will tell you … Then you can be somewhat nimble and react to consumer behaviour and adapt to it.”

Nichols also notes that big/little ‘reverse mentorship’ can also be highly beneficial. Regardless of size, there should be a point where the collaboration is able to delight customers in unexpected ways. The value proposition should be clear for all sides, as should the roles each party will play.

And one more thing on the road to happily ever after: Seeking brand partnerships is a lot like finding true love. Sometimes, Nichols says, “You’ve got to look outside your own category, keep an open mind and remember some things are meant to be long-term – and others aren’t.”