Choose Your Friends Wisely… A Look at Brand Affiliations

Understanding brand partnerships

The groups with whom we choose to associate can impact how our brand is understood.

Brand partnerships can be extremely valuable marketing tools. I believe the affiliations we create, much like the friends we choose to hang out with, can have a huge impact on how our brands are understood by the audience.

Not wanting to stereotype too much, but imagine for a moment that you meet me sitting on a park bench, surrounded by young people who are all wearing skateboard clothing and carrying skateboards. Now, it’s probably fair to say that you’d assume I too was a skateboarder because I’m hanging out with that ‘crowd’, and you’d probably make assumptions about me because of that. No doubt you’d think I share the same values as the people I’m sat with – I, like them, am probably pretty active and sporty, probably young and probably something of a miscreant at times.

Now imagine you meet me in a coffee shop and I’m surrounded by people in business suits. Again, you’d probably assume that I too am a business person and all of the values you’d associate with business people, you’ll likely associate with me too.

I believe it’s exactly the same for brands. The brand partnerships and affiliations we create can go a huge way to affecting how both brands are understood – in both positive or, if the exercise goes badly, negative ways.

Of course, as any person in any group of friends does, every brand brings its own values to the table and, like friendships, the relationships they have must provide space for each brand’s own ‘personality’ too. In any case, each brand must be able to enhance the other, bringing each something to the table that the other didn’t have to begin with but from which both can benefit.

And I’d argue that it’s not just in these direct partnerships that we need to consider the impact on our brand. In marketing ourselves, we should always seek to place ourselves in the places that mirror our brand values and never detract from them, but the same applies to where our advert appears and which magazine we’re therefore aligning ourselves with, or even where on the shelf of brochures our own sits and which shops we choose to be sold in. Everything we do is an exercise in branding and by understanding our own ‘friendship group’, we can ensure our brand continues to build.


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