Yesterday, I took my kids to the bank, so they could open up their own checking accounts. They were presented with a portfolio of options to “personalize” their new debit cards.  Each option carried the logo of a sports team, university, consumer company or non-profit organization.  The co-branding strategy for each of these brands was clear: putting the logo in front of a consumer every time the card is used and associating their brand with a solid national financial institution, connoting financial stability.  In the case of the non-profits, the co-branding could also serve to remind the consumer to share a bit of that wealth they’re spending.

Co-branding, combining two or more brands to form a new product or a strategic alliance, is often avoided by brand management as it’s thought to be too risky and requires that positive market gain – and profits – be shared. It does take some element of control out of your hands, as your brand’s reputation is then aligned with another’s, but I believe that in most cases, the benefits can far outweigh the risks, provided you choose your partner wisely and that the two brands have a natural relationship, readily apparent to the target market.  Co-branding can greatly reduce marketing costs and should be considered when your brand strategy calls for:

  • Adhering specific attributes to your brand it does not currently have, but are attached to the co-brand
  • Entering a new market, either territory or distribution outlet, where the co-brand already has recognition and/or equity

My kids’ choices? My daughter chose a non-profit and my son chose a university – Hook ‘em Horns!


Tracey Nelson, Principal & Co-Founder,

Maven Marketing Solutions