Developing a brand identity for brand licensing collaborations

Developing a Brand Identity for Brand Licensing Collaborations

It’s undeniable that brand collaborations define today’s brand licensing landscape. It seems like a new Brand x Brand is announced almost every day. And, for good reason. The industry thrives on novelty and innovation, and one of the most compelling forms this takes is through promotional partnerships between two brands. When they’re a perfect fit, their partnership can create powerful synergies that captivate audiences through a fresh, new experience and further elevate both entities.

However, the success of such partnerships relies heavily on the development of a cohesive brand identity that harmonizes the unique elements of each brand while communicating a unified message to consumers. In this month’s issue of BOLT!, I delve into the intricacies of developing a brand identity for a promotional partnership between two brands, emphasizing the importance of a well-defined communication hierarchy and the integration of visual cues to ensure a seamless and impactful consumer experience.

Understanding the essence of each brand

Before embarking on the journey of creating a collaborative brand identity, it is imperative to gain a profound understanding of the essence of each participating brand. We first need to determine what values, characteristics, and emotions the two brands evoke individually. And, we need to understand their respective target audiences, and how they each position themselves in the marketplace. By uncovering these fundamental issues, we pave the way for a strategic approach to visual brand integration.

To understand the essence of each brand, there are some questions to consider. For example, what are the core values and unique attributes of each brand involved in the collaboration? Obviously, there must be some common thread between their values and attributes – otherwise, there would be no reason for the partnership. But, identifying their differences is key to the conveying to consumers why they’ve come together… why they’re a “perfect fit.”

Another question: How does each brand currently communicate with its audience, and what is its established brand voice? The more their audiences overlap, the more likely their approach to communication will be similar. And, the easier it will be to create a visually cohesive identity for the partnership. If there’s quite a bit of contrast between their audiences, the “mash up” identity could be visually disjointed, if not handled carefully.

Lastly, what emotions or experiences do the brands aim to evoke in their collective audience? The answers to this question should be heavily rooted in the reason for the partnership, ultimately reflecting on what each brand brings to the table in terms of content and storytelling.

Establishing a communication hierarchy

In any collaborative effort between two brands, establishing a clear communication hierarchy is pivotal to prevent confusion and ensure a consistent brand message. Each brand brings its own strengths and characteristics to the table, and a thoughtful approach is required to allocate space for each voice within the collaborative narrative. The hierarchy should be reflective of the goals of the partnership and align with the values of both brands.

When determining the appropriate communication hierarchy, it’s important to clearly understand the primary goal of the promotional partnership, and how it aligns with the goals of each brand. Consider how the communication hierarchy can be structured to showcase the unique strengths of each brand while maintaining a cohesive message. And, determine if there are specific aspects of each brand that should take precedence in certain promotional materials or campaigns. If, for example, the goal is to reach a new demographic, the brand with a stronger appeal to that demographic might take precedence. If, perhaps, one brand has a powerful visual identity and the other a strong narrative voice, these elements should be at the forefront. Or, if one partner has greater recognition or a more established presence, it may make sense for their identity to be more prominent.

Incorporating equitable visual cues

Visual elements play a crucial role in brand identity design. When two brands come together, the challenge lies in merging diverse visual styles into a harmonious blend. Therefore, it’s essential to identify key visual cues from each brand and find a common ground that seamlessly integrates these elements. This not only reinforces the individuality of each brand but also creates a visually appealing and cohesive identity for the collaboration.

To establish the appropriate visual cues to work with for the partnership’s brand identity, identify which iconic visual elements are most closely associated with each brand.

A harmonious color palette that blends elements from both brands can create a strong visual connection. Consider creating a new palette that represents the partnership while respecting the individual identities.

Logo and Typography:
The integration of logos and typography needs careful handling. Co-branding can be effective, but it should be done in a way that maintains the integrity of each logo. Typography should complement both brands and be legible across various media.

Imagery and Iconography:
Select imagery and icons that resonate with the themes of the partnership. This could involve creating new imagery that fuses elements from both brands or carefully selecting existing imagery that fits the collaborative narrative.

Once each brand’s visual cues are identified, determine how they can be combined in a way that maintains brand equity for both parties. And, explore opportunities to create new visual elements specifically for the collaborative effort that would create an appropriate appeal for the core audience of both brands.

Speaking in a single brand voice

While each brand maintains its unique identity, it is crucial to ensure that the collaborative effort speaks to consumers in a single, unified brand voice. This involves crafting a narrative that seamlessly integrates the values, tone, and messaging of both brands, presenting a cohesive story that resonates with the target audience.

Consider developing a narrative style that blends the storytelling techniques of both brands. This might involve adopting the more dominant style or creating a new style that melds elements from both. The tone should be consistent across all communication channels. It should be a blend that appeals to the audiences of both brands, possibly leaning more towards the tone of the brand with a stronger or more relevant market presence.

Lastly, ensure that all messaging, from marketing campaigns to social media interactions, reflects the collaborative identity. This consistency helps in building recognition and trust among the audience.

Ensuring consistency across platforms

Consistency is key in brand identity design, especially when dealing with multiple platforms and touchpoints. Whether it’s social media, advertising, or live events, consumers should experience a seamless transition between the individual brands and the collaborative identity. This requires meticulous planning and coordination to maintain a cohesive brand presence across diverse channels.

Research should be conducted to determine if there’s a need for the collaborative brand identity to be presented in different forms or configurations to adapt to different platforms while maintaining consistency. If there are specific guidelines or design principles that need to be followed across various touchpoints, those should be uncovered as well. Ultimately, this will ensure that the collaborative brand identity is recognizable and impactful across all consumer interactions.

Unlocking the collaboration’s full potential

Collaborative brand licensing partnerships present a unique opportunity to create something greater than the sum of each participating brand’s parts. Crafting a seamless brand identity for such collaborations requires a delicate balance between acknowledging the individual strengths of each brand and forging a unified narrative that resonates with the audience. By addressing the issues that I’ve highlighted here and approaching the development process with strategic intent, both brands will be able to unlock the full potential of their collaborative efforts, leaving a lasting impression on consumers and cultivating a shared legacy that extends beyond the partnership itself.

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