The Power of Brand Collaborations


That "brand X brand" construct is such a fun and effective way to inject fresh excitement into your established brand or borrow some instant equity/credibility for your new one. Collaborations can serve as badly needed awareness boosters and do wonders for expanding your natural marketing footprint.

Importantly, collaborations are particularly effective at both underscoring what your brand is all about (through the strategic platform and value alignment) or challenging folks to think about you in a whole new way (sometimes, value "misalignment" can really turn thinking upside down).

Last, they don't have to be forever. Sometimes "limited time only" messaging is great for forcing immediate consumer action.

We’ve been thinking a lot about collaborations lately. Our client, The Hermitage, has two significant platform-aligned relationships; one with Reese Witherspoon's Draper James brand and the other with Chef Jean-Georges. Both collaborations say a lot about what The Hermitage stands for and underscore its enduring relevance in a super-hot Nashville hotel market.

In fact, their collaboration with Draper James is all about burnishing their long-term rep as THE Nashville hotel, with a foot in both the past and present. Draper James' platform — classic Southern contemporary yet timeless Southern style — conjures up the kind of gracious living and Nashville legacy The Hermitage has always been about.

That it's also a feminine construct makes Draper James the truly perfect match for the hotel's unique-to-Nashville experience.

Then we ran across this terrific piece on the wisdom of collaborations written for the AMA by Jaime Klein Daley, VP of Strategy at NYC brand shop CBX: Her piece is CPG-centric, but it's definitely educational and inspired us to go further down that rabbit hole. We thought we should share.

Another defining collaboration comes courtesy of our client Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. In reimagining what once was the Ritz-Carlton, they collaborated with designer Jonathan Adler to actively challenge how people thought about traditional Palm Beach luxury.  Adler's "irreverent luxury that refuses to subscribe to established rules" design philosophy was the perfect take Eau needed to communicate their "new-fashioned" brand platform that promised prospective guests the chance to experience Palm Beach in a truly modern, unconventional way.

So, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa is a great example of using somebody else's brand equity to help you immediately communicate what your brand-new brand is all about.

There are so many ways for hotels to use a good collaboration that go even beyond The Hermitage's Draper James Afternoon Tea experience and specially designed ditsy floral pattern, and Eau's Adler distinctive room designs.

You can also create activations, adventures, curations, ongoing content plays, pop-ups, and packages. Or maybe a signature room or suite, music or movie playlists, cocktails, and itineraries at the property or for around town. The opportunities are seemingly endless, and we’re sure there are new ideas to be had that nobody has thought of yet. But here are a few links to articles we have saved over the last couple of years that lay out what some hotels are doing with their collaborations:

A last but really important thought here: the key to collaborations isn't just about the lift you get from surfing somebody else's equity wave. It's also about fully leveraging your partner's earned and owned channels to grow our clients' exposure, eyeballs, email lists, and advocacy.

It's a move we’ll call "Other People's Media" which is so effective in stretching a small marketing budget for no additional media investment. Therefore, getting meaningful access to their platforms and databases is a crucial point in any collaboration contract (folks sometimes forget that part).

Moves like securing real estate on their website, shared digital display, joint PR releases, and emails, ensuring your collaborator mentions your property in print and on TV and podcast interviews, all social platforms, signed influencers, POS display in retail locations, shopping bag stuffers, on-location catalog shoots, and a developing a dedicated line of merchandise named for the hotel. That integrated approach is really where you squeeze max value from these relationships (as is anything that can get first-party data).

That's a great — and fresh — marketing move that can reawaken the property's brand platform while extending the reach and efficiency of our marketing programs.