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  • Posted by: Ilan Beesen on Tuesday, May 6 2014 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Brand Mashups

    To keep customers on their toes, brands have to figure out how to create unexpected connections. For some, that means exploring new ways to collaborate with others to create the never-before-seen. 

    The decision to pursue one type of partnership or another is definitely a strategic one. Think Intel chips in Dell computers—one brand lending a key capability to another. Of course, most co-branding/ingredient/sponsorship relationships feature one brand in support of the other. Attribution? Often unequal.

    But what happens when two brands meet each other as equals? They create something different. Unique. That’s the brand mash-up, and it’s sometimes expressed as Brand x Brand, or Brand + Brand.

    That naming convention suggests more than just one brand helping another. It’s the mingling of two different forces and promises—even industries—to create something that’s neither one nor the other—the unexpected third.

    It’s not totally new, but it’s still on the fringes—practiced by the most inventive. The Stussy x Nike mash-up pairs two very different styles and design sensibilities to produce shoes that are not entirely Nike or Stussy.

    Nike has been at it for a while, in fact. It was Nike + iPod in the early days that later produced the brilliant Nike+ set of products. This was the perfect marriage of design, tech, apparel, and fitness. Other notables include, M.I.A x Versus, Adidas x Opening Ceremony. Even retail stores like Target + Neiman Marcus are getting in the mix.

    While most mash-ups involve CPG and/or retail, GE is a notable exception. GE + Quirky pairs the resources of GE with the grassroots inventors of Quirky. The mix creates fun, jointly produced products that people wouldn’t expect from GE.

    Bloggers are getting in on the side-by-side game. Take Google x Berg for instance. This experimental collaboration may take Google out of the digital and into the real world. The key word being, “experimental.” The essence of the mash-up is nobody knows exactly what to expect.  

    We’re on the lookout for the next unexpected mash-up that will change the way we look at some of our favorite brands. What’s your dream mash-up? What would it change?

    Ilan Beesen is a Senior Consultant at Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Emily Grant on Thursday, February 14 2013 05:39 PM | Comments (0)
    Heifer International

    Heifer International is a global development organization that exists to help end poverty and hunger through creating sustainable programs in agriculture and livestock. This Valentine’s Day Heifer suggests alternatives gifts, such as “Give a flock of chicks to the sweetest chick you know” or “Give a dairy goat to the one that always gets your goat.”

    Gift givers can click on an animal icon on Heifer’s website and learn more about how that gift represents, as the site says, “a lasting, meaningful way for you to help.” Year round Heifer International provides individuals and families the ability to “pass on the gift” through the purchase of livestock given to those in developing countries. A growing portion of Heifer’s business celebrates the idea of ‘shared value’ and is increasingly driven by their corporate relationships.

    While we at Interbrand are committed to our core belief that “Brands have the power to change the world,” it's not every day that we get to see this mantra truly come to life. I recently had the fortunate opportunity to sit down with Heifer International, Danone and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to discuss how partnerships between organizations directly benefit their business goals and supply chains, featured in our Better Together video series. I also had the amazing opportunity to visit the Heifer International headquarters for the Corporate Partnership Summit, “Beyond the Bottom Line: Creating Shared Value Through Partnership.” It was a motivating, enlightened day to say the least.

    It’s no secret that consumers believe corporations have a direct responsibility in solving our world’s economic, social and environmental issues. What was astounding to me is the level of strategic thought, intention and commitment from corporations and partners like Heifer that’s being dedicated towards solving this shared value equation – that what’s good for business is also good for the world.

    A pioneer in the field of creating shared value ecosystems, Danone was present at the conference to share the success of their Direct Supply-Chain partnership with Heifer. Through this program, Danone is able to access and stabilize their needed milk production by creating cooperative farms, self help groups and other types of cooperative organizations that ultimately significantly improve the income and living conditions of smallholder farmers – 80% of Danone’s milk suppliers.

    The results are all that’s needed to know this is a model with lasting, transformative impact: nearly 2,400 farming families have participated in the cooperatives, with each family experiencing substantial gains in income, stability, food consumption, and overall well being. And this is just one of the many Heifer programs around the world.

    The day left me excited to be a part of this new frontier of enlightened thinking, and to know that corporations around the world are co-creating innovative solutions, along side organizations like Heifer, that use business strategy to end hunger and poverty. While the road ahead is an arduous one, the choice between profitability or social impact is diminishing, and we’re entering a world where simply synchronizing for sustainability creates transformative change.

    Emily Grant is an Associate Director, Brand Strategy for Interbrand.

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