Brand managers often speak about doing something different and disrupting the norm, yet find far and few innovative concepts to deploy. We need not think too hard or look too far; brand collaboration should be a strong concept that carries weight in Africa – mainly between Corporate Africa and SMEs.
Concerning Corporate Africa, although carrying globally renowned names which are respected, the truth for your everyday audience is these brands have a clinical feel – and very few have the blood and spirit of the home country, as a lot of their brand communications are based on a template marketing model from the West which is safe and concentrates on delivering a message and product/service benefit as opposed to an experience and everyday engagement.
There are some incredibly impressive SME brands existing in Africa and their works are on par with their counterparts in the West, yet their brand reach and penetration is limited by the limitations of their budget and expertise. These brands and the entrepreneurs have a strong following on social networks and are able to reach a percentage of each demograp which they intend to speak to.
Let’s get married
So, what happens when we bring a mega-brand with a large distribution network and reach and partner it with an SME that is going places? The marriage is mutually beneficial in terms of brand equity, brand perception and, most importantly, for all sales.
There is something very beautiful when Corporate meets SME; boundaries are pushed, experiences are discovered, creativity is infused and the consumer receives the ultimate experience and gets the best of both worlds.
Lest we forget
A company’s primary responsibility is to draw its audience up and inspire them and/or meet them at their basic point of need. Brand collaboration is one of the best ways of speaking to your target audience; it tells them that you know them, understand them; and most importantly, you speak to their dreams and aspirations…their today and tomorrow.
Brand collaboration in today’s Africa brings corporate brands that little bit closer to their audience, and keeps them relevant, refreshed and top of the mind. For SMEs, a collaboration allows them to be on the ‘bigger stage’ and allows them to make a swoop for a larger audience than they may have previously been able to reach. SMEs can provide insight on their audience based more on the day to day conversation between them as opposed to corporate brands, so a merger of this and top-level consumer analytics is truly a match made in heaven.
The important takeaway is that the SME brands which are engaged need to be ready and have the capacity to receive new business. The engagement at that moment is as important as what comes afterwards.
Globally, we have seen brand collaborations rise and prove to be successful from sportswear and clothing: FUBU married Puma – FUBU is a well-known American hip-hop streetwear clothing company founded by entrepreneur Daymond John in the 1990s, in the USA, which quickly became a global phenomenon. Puma needs no introduction – in January this year, Puma and FUBU collaborated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Suede material.
Luxury brands and property developers – this is the latest trend in the UK and US. The most recent collaboration is fashion-designer Versace’s marriage to Dubai luxury real estate developer Damac International. The two fall into the lifestyle category and are building a branded 50-storey skyscraper in London – with property prices starting from £4million.
Everyday lifestyle and FMCG products – GoPro, which sells portable cameras, and Red Bull got married – both lifestyle brands have a focus on action, adventure, extreme and fearless activity, and partnered in a campaign that focused on action-sports.
Brand collaborations deliver unique experiences, allowing consumers to completely delve into the brand.
The idea is that managers need to be willing to push boundaries and move away from the template-marketing approach. Companies and marketing managers need to understand that Ghanaians are ready to embrace new experiences; this is the time to be innovative, creative and change consumer-purchasing habits.
Off the top of your head…which brand would your company benefit from partnering with?