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Use of Co-Branding in Marketing

J. W. Dawe, Susan Fenner
  • Author
    J. W. Dawe

    JW Dawe has taught college-level classes in business, nonprofit management, and humanities. They have a Masters with Distinction from the North Park University School of Business and Nonprofit Management with additional graduate certificates in management and governance. They are a Certified Nonprofit Professional from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. They have taught in the undergraduate and graduate schools at North Park University (Chicago) and Misericordia University (Pennsylvania).

  • Instructor
    Susan Fenner

    Susan has an MBA in Management from the University of North Alabama. She teaches online and campus-based Business courses.

Learn about co-branding. Understand what co-branding is, learn how co-branding marketing works and identify its benefits, and see real-life examples of co-branding. Updated: 06/30/2022

Table of Contents


What is Co-Branding?

Co-branding is a type of marketing partnership between two or more different brands to jointly promote a product or service, which results in the creation of a new product, service, or special edition product. It is an increasingly popular marketing strategy that allows businesses to combine their strengths and loyal customer bases while sharing advertising and promotional expenses.

Co-branding is different from cooperative marketing or co-marketing. Co-branding involves one product that jointly combines two brands, while co-marketing involves two or more different products from different brands that are bundled or promoted together but do not result in the creation of a new product or service.

Brand identity is an important factor in co-branding, as each individual brand contributes its own identity to create a melded brand for a new co-branded product. Its main elements include the individual brands' identifiers such as logos and colors and the melded brand's identifiers. The brands and their companies do not merge; rather, they retain their individual identities while they work cooperatively on a new product.

An important co-branding strategy is to create a unique new product that is not able to be copied. A good example is Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, which use a Doritos-created taco shell and were co-developed by Taco Bell's Yum! Brands, Inc. and Dorito's Frito-Lay, Inc. Other restaurants may create a "Nacho Cheese Shell Taco," but they are not permitted to use the "Doritos" brand. The successful collaboration resulted in the development of other co-branded items, such as the Beefy Fritos Burritos made with Frito Lay, Inc. corn chips.

Co-Branding Marketing

From a marketing perspective, co-branding can boost the reputation of the participating brands, depending on the strategy employed. There are several marketing strategies companies use for co-branding efforts. They include:

  • Marketing penetration is a strategy that works to preserve the individual brand's market share in order to increase each brand's market share.
  • Global brand is a strategy that seeks to serve all customers with a single, existing global co-brand.
  • Brand reinforcement is a strategy that focuses on keeping the brand alive and maintaining brand equity among new and existing customers. In reinforcement, co-branding is part of a revitalization activity.
  • Brand extension, or brand stretching, is a strategy that is used to promote a new or lesser-known brand by co-branding with an existing brand with a strong reputation. This is frequently done when one of the brands wants to break into a new market.
  • Event sponsorship is another co-branding strategy that is largely marketing-driven. Event sponsorship links the reputations of two brands and promotes brand awareness to a larger customer base. Examples of this include Coca-Cola's present sponsorship of the Olympics and Pepsi Co's sponsorship of the Super Bowl.
  • Licensure is another co-branding strategy in which one brand obtains a license to use another brand's assets. The most popular licensed brand is Disney. For example, Timex licenses a Disney brand to create the "Mickey Mouse Watch" or Dooney & Bourke creates the "Disney Dooney" purse line.
  • Special Edition Co-Branding happens when two established brands create a special edition product, available for a limited time, that is co-branded and may or may not be a new product. For example, Coca-Cola launched a co-branded bottle of their signature beverage, available only during the Olympic games.

Sponsorship of the Olympics allows Coca-Cola to create a special edition of its signature beverage with the Olympics branding.

Coca-Cola Special Olympic Edition

Advantages and Disadvantages of Co-Branding

Advantages of co-branding may include:

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of co-branding?

Co-branding exists when two different brands have worked together to create a new product. Some examples include Taco Bell's Doritos Locos tacos and Beefy Fritos burritos. Another example is a Betty Crocker cake mix that boasts "Hershey's" brand chocolate.

What is the objective of co-branding?

Co-branding is a type of marketing partnership between two or more different brands to jointly promote a product or service which results in the creation of a new product, service, or special edition product. Its objective is to allow businesses to combine their strengths and loyal customer bases while sharing advertising and promotional expenses.

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