Written by our Head of Brand Partnerships, Chris Wilson.
We are entering a critical period for brands as we move into Q4. The changes in the current landscape are obviously influencing marketing activity plans for 2021, but while for most, it’s been a year to forget, all is not lost. Brands across a multitude of sectors are innovating and challenging themselves to promote their brand using alternative methods.
Having spent the last few months speaking with brands from a variety of sectors, I’ve found that many have used the last quarter to spend time looking inward and developing longer term plans to help them adapt and grow.
These conversations have been hugely insightful. In a few years, when we look back at this time, I actually think the change and hardship everyone has faced will reward us, as we witness new ways for brands to work and market themselves.
Why is Q4 such a key period?
It’s important to understand that many have entered next year’s brand planning cycle early, given the current climate, whilst others have adapted their strategies, developing more short-term plans dependant on pandemic restrictions, company performance and other wider, company-specific variables.
As we enter September, many brands will be developing their budgets and determining which campaigns they want to develop next year. For anyone in the partnerships space, this is a key time to create new relationships and help brands earmark budgets for potential partnerships over the coming months.
During a brand’s planning period, they are typically much more receptive to speaking with other brands about partnership opportunities. It’s a good time to get a lay of the land, see what opportunities are out there and consider the pros and cons of developing specific partnerships that align with their strategy and work within set budgets and timelines.
What’s changing across the partnerships landscape?
In short, a lot!
From a seller’s point of view, the past few months have been about enhancing and developing propositions for rights holders, I.P owners and licensees who target brands to develop partners. Many have digitised their assets, in some cases making them more bite sized and affordable, and altering the way brands can partner with them.
From the buyer or brand’s perspective, it’s about seeking new and innovative ways to partner, ways that drive growth and are cost effective. Its certainly a buyers’ market having seen many brands pull out of sponsorship deals or had brand activation (physical) budgets frozen recently. The world is demanding more and more digital opportunities to engage, reach and convert new customers, so if you can creatively provide such partner services, both can benefit significantly.
Where the market is likely to go?
There are multiple ways for brands to partner these days, through licensing, co-branded content, promotions, rewards, sponsorship or immersive activation.
Ultimately, the market will go where the largest growth opportunity lies. All of the above examples offer that, but with what’s going on, there will be more immediate opportunities with the digital promotions, licensing and content opportunities. The businesses that will benefit will be the ones that offer a mixture of the these with the end goal being to promote the partnership in a physical aspect (once social distancing restrictions ease).
As brands begin to embark on offering new partnerships, we have seen new and innovative ways to do this.
For example, across the music and entertainment industry, plans are afoot for ‘hybrid’ music activations in 2021. Music labels and entertainment publishers plan on hosting live performances available to small groups of guests and then broadcasting these over online platforms, such as YouTube and owned ticketed access areas so attendees can engage with performances both online and face-to-face where it allows. This provides a unique, new platform for sponsorship and branding opportunities, whilst enabling further revenue and commercial opportunities for the labels and their partners to promote.
Other activations and new formats in this space have included Drive In Cinema’s – so consumers can experience their favourite movies in the secure location of their own cars. This has in turn led to wider opportunities, including music stars performing in festival style ‘Drive-In’ activations.
Co-branded content, online activation with talent and publishing business remains a solid way to create opportunities. Almost every day there seems to be new partnership opportunities in the online space, particularly with brands offering access to audiences via promotions and rewards at the core.
Brand Licensing has also seen a surge in popularity throughout recent years, with numerous brands now accessing new and different ways to promote product and collaborate with licensees. It gives the ability for brands to drive engagement and personalisation with branded products, goods or wider digital activations across online and digital media. It is now seen as a channel that can engage and convert customers from all age demographics by using licensee’s creative assets and storytelling.
Why should we enter brand partnerships?
Brand partnerships offer brands a wonderful opportunity to engage new audiences, develop more engaged and personalised relationships with existing clients, as well as providing the brand with a new and different way to promote hero brand or individual products.
If you’re a commercial leader work craves new brand partners across Q4 and in 2021, you need to focus on how you can creatively target the right partners to develop a valuable, long term relationship that supports your proposition and have an offering that will bring value, alignment and revenue to all parties concerned.
Ingenuity London is a consultancy business that one side helps rights holders’ source new brand partnerships through creative partnership sales development and implementation. On the other, we help consult brands on their marketing objectives and help them find the right agency or rights holders to partner with to solve a variety of challenges. In short, if you’re in the space, we’d love to talk to you.
Drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org