Brand partnerships in 2018 – Key Trends and learnings


Chris Wilson, Head of Brand Partnerships at Ingenuity London explores the standout brand partnership trends this year and what can be learnt from them.

What a year! We actually don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. The challenging marketplace has led to increased collaboration, more value-added offers for consumers and a sink or swim mentality on the high street.

An area that has grown and become increasingly relied upon is brand partnerships. When formed creatively with a customer-centric focus, this channel can be a cost-effective and profitable element to a brands marketing strategy.

What to consider before approaching a brand to form a strategic alliance?

–         The target brand has aligned values

–         They have like-minded targets or goals to achieve

–         The potential partner has skill sets and/or mutual benefits to offer

–         It must remain relevant to the target audience

Partnerships are following the Marketing herd, where brand purpose has been put at the top of the tree it seems that the poignancy of a meaningful partnership has not been lost. You only need look at the FA’s partnership with Stonewall to see that previously inward facing organisations are embracing the new wave of customers who care about brand purpose.

A partnership, when done effectively, will allow you to shift perceptions, create new engagement and deliver you more assets to leverage, ultimately enabling you to drive more revenue, less churn and greater loyalty.

Which partnerships have impressed?

1.       Amex’s partnership with Netflix that allows customers to ‘Pay with Points’ – A great partnership which allows a low value redemption month to month, generating a genuine feeling of being rewarded.

2.      Spider-Man partnership sees Vodafone and Sony Pictures aim to encourage digital skills – a great positioning piece for all the brands involved, filling in the gaps left by the education system in the UK.

3.      Bud Light unlocks coolers of free beer as Cleveland Browns win first game since 2016 – just a great activation that encapsulates an audience at a time that makes their experience enhanced and increases shareability via social.

4.     Sky and Netflix partner for ‘ultimate’ on-demand TV package – one of the most talked about strategic deals of the year, a solution which helps Sky offer a better range and retain their customers whilst offering Netflix better reach and customer acquisition. We’d love to know what the overlap here was.

Personalisation is key

Research finds a correlation between personalisation and customer satisfaction. By leveraging customer data captured in a multi-channel loyalty program, brands can offer more relevant promotions and up sell and cross-sell relevant products or services to consumers.

How to navigate the world of Brand Partnerships

Partnerships should focus on at least one of the following:

  • Bringing value to the customer
  • Solve (or alleviate) a problem
  • Capture people’s interest
  • Deliver digitally
  • Challenge perception

Data is a key pillar

Data has become a much talked about subject, particularly with GDPR (which I have talked about previously – read here).

The element of data in any partnership is crucial, you should understand your audience, the way they think, what makes them tick, what makes them keep coming back most importantly how they behave.

But if you do not own the data, you can form a partnership that drives acquisition via a promotion. By creating an exciting campaign, you can acquire new audiences by marketing to them using an exclusive partnership promotion, thus drive your data sets and creating a new and engaged user group which you can target again and again across your wider marketing strategy.

In summary it’s the balance of data and creativity that delivers the best opportunities in partnerships and the greater the scope and breadth of the relationship the better it will be. Case in point is American Express’ integration into Amazon which goes as deep as allowing you top redeem points at checkout on the Amazon platform.

Being customer centric the spirit of Christmas giving in partnerships

Tis the season for giving, so make sure your 2019 strategy is to put your customers at the very heart of what you do, there are far too many broad and non-strategic partnerships out there in the industry that are too introspective, alleviating internal rather than external challenges.

Finding the right partner; Partnerships are the key: Ingenuity London

Having extensive experience in helping brands to develop an effective partnership offering to market we could introduce you to any number of partners. (To see more, please check out our new website here).

If you’re interested in engaging new audiences or developing a new way to market your brand via strategic partnerships, get in touch with Chris at to discuss.