The power of X – how brand power can be enhanced with cool collaborations

Yara Hamarneh, Digital Strategist at Cheil MENA talks about how brands can boost their credentials with collaborations…

“Commercial success demands having a product for people to buy on top of an idea for them to buy in to, and one of the most powerful ways of facilitating this in our industry today is through collaboration”

Advertisers are often criticised for forgetting the fact that growing a brand is about selling products, as well as educating consumers. Commercial success demands having a product for people to buy on top of an idea for them to buy in to, and one of the most powerful ways of facilitating this in our industry today is through collaboration.

A collaboration may take many forms, including unique products and content, special editions and events, and it does not always have to involve big names or players.

In our region, celebrity endorsement is a popular form of collaboration widely used by big brands. L’Azurde and Elissa, Western Union and Amr Diab, Splash Fashion and Nicole Saba are simply a few examples. Another successful example of collaboration is Batelco’s gaming league partnership with Vortex gaming centers in Bahrain, which is targeting youth through a major passion point. Globally, we find examples of collaborations that can create deeper business value; Puma signing with Rihanna as Puma’s creative director for women’s products is an excellent example of collaboration done well. Adidas has also worked on a range of footwear with Pharrell Williams and the ubiquitous singer/producer is collaborating again on his ‘Bee Line’ collection with Timberland. Such collaborations can create value from a very early stage and this is carried out all the way from product creation to endorsement.

But what’s becoming increasingly important is the symbol that defines the collaboration – the symbol ‘X’.  This is a mathematical symbol that we all grew up calling ‘times’. More powerful than + (plus), it is the multiplier and when sales targets are subject to pressure, there is value in multiplying the equity in partnerships. It’s a symbol of collaboration that is becoming easily recognisable to consumers and to shoppers.

X signifies something new and worth looking out for to consumers. It is a form of syntax that could become as important to retailers as ‘new’, ‘free’ or ‘sale’.  It also enables a retailer to engage with shoppers, drive footfall and sales, and simultaneously strengthen relationships with customers through equity borrowed from collaborators.

The birth of digital & social media has boosted the number of brands’ collaborating with people, leading to crowd-sourced products, and ideas; all forms of collaborations with the power of X. We all still remember the Lay’s new chips flavor created as a result of collaboration with people on social media. Today, however, we see brands tend to follow the easier, safer, (and probably more expensive) collaborations on a digital front, which are all represented in a few endorsement posts by influencers that are, most of the time, irrelevant to the brand.

Collaborating with influencers can create much greater value to brands if they apply the same crowdsourcing formula that had been followed previously. Creating a deeper collaboration based on involvement will result in stories and positive personal experiences rather than promotional posts, thus allowing people to fully buy into your brand’s idea.

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