Two’s company

Dual branding is on the up as clients get less precious about intellectual property and start to enjoy the cost benefits, says Angus Montgomery

The concept of dual branding has been highlighted by retail experts as a growing trend for 2010. David Judge, co-founder of retail specialist Judge Gill, says that as well as being driven by the obvious practical considerations of sharing risks and cost, brands are becoming ’less precious’ about maintaining singularity, and starting to realise the benefits to be had from teaming up.

While not quite permeating the retail sector just yet, the concept of co-branding is proving popular among fmcg and lifestyle brands. Karl Heiselman, chief executive of Wolff Olins, says, ’Branding is moving into an area that is less about policing, and more about being generous.’
Wolff Olins developed perhaps the most complex dual branding project in history, for Aids relief brand Product Red, which it describes as ’a new business model and a new brand model’.

Product Red is a brand set up by U2 frontman Bono and Bobby Shriver, founder of non-governmental organisation Debt Aids Trade in Africa. Heiselman says Project Red began because Bono and Shriver, while appealing to governments for funding, were told by politicians that they wanted the private sector to take a more active role.

Heiselman says Wolff Olins considered a number of ideas using global brands, including a half-Coke, half-Pepsi drinks can. He explains, ’One of the big ideas we devised was to partner the world’s most iconic brands to raise awareness. We didn’t want it to be about sacrifice – we wanted it to be about virtue.’ Wolff Olins developed the brand idea and strategy for Product Red, as well as helping to select partner brands.

The result was a brand in which the word ’red’ sits within ellipses. This allows it to be used on its own in phrases such as ’ado(red)’ and ’inspi(red)’. It can also be used in conjunction with other brands, with the ellipses literally bracketing the brand, which is coloured red, while the Red tag sits above it, so that the brands are working, says Heiselman, ’to the power of Red’. Brands signed up to the Project Red brand include American Express, Gap and Nike. Heiselman refers to the ’generosity’ of the Project Red partner brands in allowing their identities to be augmented this way. ’I’m sure most brands wouldn’t allow the partners to modify their colours,’ he says.

Heiselman sees Project Red as exemplifying the openness many brands have at the moment. He says, ’Brands have been more open for some time. You could say it’s a reflection of society as a whole – disciplines like art and music are much more about collaboration now.’ He adds, ’Consumers want brands to be more experimental and less monolithic. Maybe it’s even more interesting when two brands you don’t expect to go together end up together.’

Two brands you might not have expected to see together are Giorgio Armani and Reebok, which have announced a tie-up between their Emporio Armani and EA7 brands. The new collection was presented at Milan Fashion Week last month, and is set to hit shelves worldwide in July.

The heads of the two fashion labels have talked about what the collaboration would mean for each of their brands. Giorgio Armani says, ’I wanted to offer my customers the possibility of wearing sports clothes that were stylish and comfortable. My new alliance with Reebok is a natural consequence of this philosophy.’ Uli Becker, president of Reebok International, says, ’This collaboration offers a new perspective for the design-minded, fashion-conscious, active consumer.’ He adds, ’The global style credentials of the Emporio Armani and EA7 brands, combined with Reebok’s fitness and training heritage, and focus going forward, fit together perfectly.’

Dual branding is reasonably common in the fashion and lifestyle sector, with licensing a common way of merging two brands, particularly in the clothing and footwear sectors. Adidas recently announced a tie-up with Lucasfilm to unleash a Star Wars-themed footwear range for its spring/ summer collection, which has resulted in products such as the Skywalker hi-top, the Death Star Superstar and the Stormtrooper Superskate Mid.

Over in the fmcg sector, Coca-Cola has launched a new brand campaign for Diet Coke, which it describes as being ’aimed at girls who “Love it Light”’. To promote this it has partnered with online fashion brand Asos and publisher Bauer Media, which has resulted in a hot-pink, leopard-skin can design. Cathryn Sleight, marketing director for Coca-Cola Great Britain, says, ’We understand women’s passion for fashion and the role it plays in their everyday lives, so we’re delighted to be partnering two of the UK’s most exciting fashion brands to excite and reward.’

Different forms of dual branding

  • Ingredient co-branding – Branded materials components or parts are contained within other products
  • Same company co-branding – Companies with more than one product promote their own brands simultaneously
  • Joint venture co-branding – Brand-owners make a strategic alliance to present a product

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