Why Brand is the Key to Strategic Alliance Success

Market landscapes are changing faster than ever so it’s no surprise that businesses are increasingly turning to strategic alliances.  They are an ideal way to test a new market, deepen customer relationships and box out competitors.  Alliances can be product-oriented, extending a service capability, or they can be go-to-market-oriented, broadening reach and access to customers.  Either way, they can be established relatively quickly and typically at far less cost than in-house development or hiring processes.

But just as the brands and products of individual companies need to be nurtured, so do those of alliances. Unfortunately, many companies and their advertising agencies are so focused on the core brand and offerings that they unintentionally neglect those of the partnership. 

The result can be confusion as product teams create their own competing narratives and a loss of mindshare among product teams who are already burdened trying to remember the value proposition of their core offerings.

To maximize the success of any partnership or alliance you need to build a partnership messaging platform that includes the following:

  1. A Higher Purpose: The alliance needs to serve a purpose that is bigger than just selling more of the partners’ products or services. It needs to fill a gap in the market and people’s lives. This is critical for capturing the imagination and attention of all who will touch the partnership (alliance managers, marketing, sales and product) and providing a “north star” for resolving differences that inevitably arise.
  2. A Compelling “1+1=3” Formula: The alliance needs to include a value proposition that makes clear why a product or service delivered as part of a partnership is better than one delivered by one partner or the other alone. Be clear on how the alliance allows each partner to do things for customers that they could not have done on their own.
  3. Cultural Fit: Be aware of the different cultures of each partner and find the common narrative that both can embrace.  Seek to define the alliance not just by its products or services but by the shared experiences of those who work together to support the alliance.  How do they deliver a different or better experience for customers? Is it faster response? More know-how? Better R&D?
  4. A Simple Narrative: Finally, put all this into a simple narrative that account teams will remember. They are already overwhelmed trying to communicate the myriad features and benefits of their core offering. Unless the partnership narrative is simple and compelling, it won’t get the attention you desire.  Skip the dry facts (“together we have more x, y, z”) and create an archetypal story that sales reps will embrace, remember and want to share with customers because it furthers their relationship.

If your company is engaged in a strategic partnership and experiencing some of the challenges above, contact BrandFoundations let us help you build a brand and culture narrative that drives alliance success.