The Magic of Unlikely Brand Collaborations
“Stop, collaborate and listen”: with these lyrics, it turns out that Vanilla Ice was ahead of the curve. He was rapping (albeit terribly) about the power of collaboration long before marketing teams and global brands. Since then, the amount of smart yet unlikely brand collaborations catching our attention has increased exponentially. Done well, the arrangement has multiple benefits: publicity, positive brand perception, and a whole new audience, to name a few. But what makes a great brand partnership?
It goes without saying that the connection needs to be authentic, and strategy around target markets, price points, and promotional channels need to be aligned. But it takes something truly innovative and new to stand out from the crowd – and an unlikely brand partnership is one of the things that gets people talking. Proving that great minds think differently, here are a few unlikely brand collaborations that struck gold.
1. Uber and Spotify
One is a global taxi technology firm, the other is a music, podcast, and video streaming service; the synergies might not be immediately obvious. But when Uber started receiving feedback from its drivers that passengers often requested their own music to be played during journeys, the seed of an idea was planted. The two brands quickly came together to create an Uber music service: order an Uber with music enabled, select a playlist, and when the driver arrives your music is already playing in the car. Placing consumer experience at the heart of this partnership ensured it was a success.
2. Eva Air and Hello Kitty
The gulf between an international airline and a fictional cat couldn’t be greater, yet when the two came together the positive reaction surpassed all expectations. Initially it was Sanrio, the corporation behind Hello Kitty, that approached Eva Air about selling its merchandise inflight. After much back and forth it became clear there was a bigger opportunity worth exploring: an entire fleet of Hello Kitty jets that offered an immersive Hello Kitty and Friends flight experience. The first flight took to the air in 2005, and 13 years later the partnership is still going strong; new routes offering this service are still launching today. Key takeaway: think big!
3. Smith Street Taps and Chinatown Complex
It’s not just global brands that are seeing the value of unconventional partnerships; local companies are embracing this trend too. For instance, one of the last things you might expect to find in a traditional Singaporean hawker centre is a beer stall selling premium craft beers on tap sourced from around the world. But the trailblazing team behind Smith Street Taps saw a niche market and ran with it. It turns out that their hunch was right: everyone loves a decent pint at a decent price. The unlikely hawker location only adds to the charm.
4. LOPELAB and Style Tribute
Coworking spaces, with their eclectic mix of startups across industries, often act as catalysts for surprising collaborations. One such partnership was sparked at The Working Capitol, when LOPELAB (a creative studio specialising in urban design) and Style Tribute (a digital platform for luxury second-hand fashion) both started eyeballing a ground-floor space at the coworking operator’s Robinson site. The Working Capitol’s CEO, Ben Gattie, made the introduction and soon Collabo 101 was born.
LOPELAB had a clear vision from the outset that the space needed to be one that encouraged collaboration, while providing an opportunity for online artists or brands to occupy a physical space. Coincidentally, Style Tribute shared the vision of bringing its online presence to a physical store. The result? A vintage fashion pop-up on the lower floor, and an ever-evolving space upstairs that currently features a foosball table, arcade games, original artwork, DJ decks, and a lounge area that can be used for work, play, or hosting events. Lorenzo Petrillo, LOPELAB’s Director, says that being a member of The Working Capitol “has provided us with a unique opportunity to utilise an empty space and turn a creative vision into reality”. After all, who would expect to find a fashion and events pop-up in a coworking space at the heart of the CBD?
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