Collaborating with other businesses and nonprofits can help organizations to reach new audiences and amplify their impact. Whether it’s cohosting a professional development workshop for a shared group of clients or partnering up with other businesses in the area for a corporate social responsibility initiative (CSR), the truth in the concept that “two heads are better than one” is evident in well-orchestrated collaborations. When collaborating with partners to execute events and initiatives – or even to cobrand a product or service – ensuring the integrity of your organization’s brand is maintained is paramount. Here are some easy, actionable tips to protect your brand identity when collaborating with other organizations.
Defer to your brand standards or style guide
A brand standards manual or style guide outlines the “dos and don’ts” for everything from logo and tagline usage to brand colors and key message points. This handy resource ensures documents coming from various departments and divisions maintain a consistent look and feel – which helps to minimize the potential for brand confusion. That same document can also help to ensure that whoever is creating the marketing materials for your business collaboration is adhering to those same standards.
Collaborate on messaging
Oftentimes, two organizations with their own unique identities collaborating on an initiative mean two different perspectives on the matter at-hand. While these unique perspectives often help to generate a stronger end product, it can also lead to two different sets of messaging surrounding the initiative. Each organization has a different stake in the initiative so it is important to develop messaging that is not only clear and concise, but also reflects what matters most to various stakeholders.
Appoint central checkpoints for reviews
Every brand needs its own gatekeeper. For some companies that is the director of marketing/communications and for others it is the chief marketing officer (CMO). Regardless, there should be one person from each organization who is designated to provide final approvals on all marketing materials surrounding the partnership/collaboration and that individual should be well-versed on the ins and outs of their own brand, as well as their respective company’s stake in the collaboration.
Know when less is more
Let’s say three area businesses are collaborating to host a day-long educational conference for their shared clients. That’s not only three hosting organizations who need to collaborate to create a common set of message points, but at least three unique target audiences with whom they need to communicate. While one’s inclination may be to ensure each audience understands all of the ins and outs of the organizations who are hosting the event, as we’ve said before, differentiating between what people need to know and what is nice for them to know is key. You want to send out communications – be they eblasts, flyers, press releases and so on – that are clear, easy to digest and lead with what is in it for the attendee. You want to lead with the most salient points and direct audiences to resources for obtaining additional information that isn’t necessarily mission critical. This also helps to ensure that people have access to agreed upon and approved messaging that is consistent with both the individual brands involved as well as the project on which they are collaborating.
Collaborating with other businesses, nonprofits and strategic partners to amplify your reach and deliver a product, service or event that delivers an optimal impact can help to set your organization apart from the competition. It can also help to generate a newsworthy angle for engaging with local, regional and trade media. When building these collaborations, it is important to keep a watchful eye on your organization’s brand identity and ensure that everything from the visual identity used to represent your organization to the messaging used to describe it remains on brand.