How to Start Your First Brand x Brand Collaboration

Creating a successful brand collaboration is no easy feat. Brands are working harder than ever to stay relevant in an oversaturated market, and one way they’re standing out from the crowd is by collaborating with other brands. As a result, brand collaborations have become an integral part of the fashion industry—from humble beginnings as a marketing strategy to gain visibility, they have evolved into a creative exercise that brings strategic and innovative benefits to all partners involved. 

It seems that everyone is keen to join the collab party. Now brands of all types in every category have adopted the same strategy. From beer (think Budweiser) to fast food (Taco Bell & McDonalds) to cookware (Kitchen Aid).

But…How can you get your brand off the sidelines and into the game? Read on to find out how you can know if your brand is ready to collaborate and how to initiate a collaboration with another brand.

In this blog post, we share insights on how to start your first brand x brand collaboration.

What you should know before starting a brand collaboration.

Before diving into the logistics of finding partners and starting a collaboration, it’s essential to ask yourself what your brand’s main objectives are from the collaboration. This exercise will help you frame your expectations around the collaboration and determine which brands best fit what you’re trying to achieve. Remember that brand collaborations are not one-size-fits-all and should be built on your brand strategy objectives and your brand’s needs. 

There are many ways to approach collaborations, but here are the most important objectives to consider as you search for potential partners. 

  1. Build brand awareness – Collaborations are a great way to increase brand visibility by bringing attention to your product or service through the other partner’s audience. 
  2. Position yourself as an expert – By collaborating with other experts in your industry, you can demonstrate that you are an authority and help your brand become a leading voice in the space. – 
  3. Expand your customer base – Collaborations can help bring new audience members to your brand and expand the reach of your core base. 
  4. Enter new markets – If your brand is looking to expand into new markets, it’s essential to consider which brands will allow you to do so while staying true to your brand identity.

Establish a process to find potential partners

When kickstarting a collaboration, you want to put yourself in a position to succeed by only selecting partners who are a good fit for your brand. 

Ask these questions to help you find the right partners for your collaboration.

What type of brand are you? – First, consider what your core values are? Then, what kind of product or service do you offer? How can a collab bring this story to life?

What are your objectives for the collaboration? What are you hoping to gain from the partnership? Is there an aspect of your brand, your product, or a promotion that you want to highlight and celebrate?

What are you looking for in a partner? What are their ideal core values? What would combine well with your brand’s strengths? What are the gaps in your strategy that you hope to fill with a collaboration?

When is the right time to start a collaboration?

The best time to start a collaboration will largely be determined by the objectives of your brand and the type of collaboration you plan to run. If your brand is trying to build awareness and gain new customers, then likely a timed release like a holiday campaign will work best for you. If you’re trying to position yourself as an expert in your field or build relationships with other industry leaders, then it might be best to start the collaboration earlier in the year. 

However, if your brand is trying to enter new markets, you may want to wait until the fall to start your collaboration. There are many great times to collaborate and many different types of collaborations that can be executed. 

Because of this, you want to be strategic and intentional when deciding the best time to start a collaboration.

Pick your partners thoughtfully.

Brand collaborations can be a strategic and tactical win-win for all partners involved. However, it’s important to be thoughtful about the brands you choose to collaborate with. Certain factors will go into your decision when selecting partners, but there are a few main considerations you should keep in mind when selecting partners for your first brand x brand collaboration. – 

Relevance – First, you want to select relevant partners for your brand. While some brand partnerships are meant to be purely strategic, others have the potential to be mutually beneficial and provide value for both partners. 

Fit – You want to select partners who fit well with your brand. Collaborations are an opportunity to add unique value to your brand and help you stand out from the crowd.

Impact – Finally, you want to select partners who will make an impact on your brand. You want to be strategic and selective with your partnerships and make sure each partnership has the potential to bring real value and growth to your brand.

Create a brief with key requirements

Before you start reaching out to potential partners, it’s important to create a brief that outlines the details of your collaboration. A brief will help both you and the other partners better understand each other’s needs and goals for the collaboration. The brief should include a few key points to help you frame the collaboration and help your partners understand your needs.

 Objectives – What are your objectives for the collaboration? What are you hoping to gain from the collaboration? – Brand – What is the vision and mission of your brand? What is your brand’s story? What makes your brand unique?

Offer – What do you want to give to the partnership? What value do you bring to the table? – Stakeholders – Who are the stakeholders in the collaboration? What are their roles? Who are the decision-makers?

Timeline – What is your ideal timeline for the collaboration? When do you want the collaboration to start and end?

Wrapping up

Collaborations are a great way to bring attention to your brand, build partnerships, and grow your customer base. Before reaching out to potential partners, ensure you understand your brand’s objectives for the collaboration and have brief outlining key details about your partnership. 

When you carefully select partners who are a good fit for your brand and have an offer that adds value, you can expect to build successful brand x brand collaborations that will grow your business…and that of your partner.

Learn more by visiting the Colaboratory.


  • Andy Heddle

    A seasoned retail and digital commerce and communications business executive with experience from start-ups to Fortune 50 retailers. Dynamic, versatile, entrepreneurial growth leader with a history of leading, establishing, developing, and scaling consumer e-commerce, direct-to-consumer, and retail businesses. Demonstrated expertise and excellence in concept, road mapping, product and experience development, and digital transformation. Experience in leading large multi-disciplinary teams in matrixed organizations. A licensed stakeholder centered career coach and writer.

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