Who is responsible for building whose brand?
Is the sponsor to build a brand for a property or a property to build a brand for a sponsor?
The debate of who is responsible for building whose brand between properties and brands is a hot topic during any partnership negotiation. Seasoned marketers have had experiences with partnerships that have swung from one extreme to another, where each party was only looking out for their own key performance metrics and lost sight of the true intention of the partnership.
There are a variety of motivations for each sponsorship, and when brand reputation, dollars and results are at stake, the decisions made at the negotiation table have ripple effects.
Here are three ways to build successful sponsorships from top brands, agencies and properties:
Build a sponsorship that is mutually beneficial and builds collective brand equity
The most successful sponsorships align brand and business objectives to build collective brand equity. When properties come to the table and identify their strengths and how their property can solve a business problem for the brand, they create an environment where real discussion can lead to true partnership. Sponsorships that are built on a strong foundation of mutual respect lead to even stronger partnerships and results. Working together to decide what is of value and what each party can offer the other helps to build a customized sponsorship that is truly mutually beneficial.
Set expectations and identify key metrics of success early on
Any partnership can break down when it comes to executing and reporting if there is no clarity on key metrics for evaluation. These expectations need to be clearly articulated at the outset of negotiations to ensure that each party is aligned on how the partnership will be evaluated. With thousands to millions of dollars on the line, there is no room for error. Whether those key performance metrics are rigorous and data-driven, or soft and anecdotal, knowing the collective end goal is critical to building the sponsorship activation and assets that will get you there. Setting yourself up for the sponsorship evaluation will put you in a strong position for renewal.
Ensure partnerships are the right fit for both brand and property
All seasoned marketers can recall a partnership that was not the right fit and did not make sense for their business. Whether driven by an executive’s personal interest or hopping on a band wagon for a prominent social issue, consumers and employees can see through this. This misalignment can have catastrophic outcomes for brands and properties and at the very least be detrimental to brand building.
Building out partnership criteria to align strategy internally whilst being nimble to the changes within the larger industry and society will ensure you are prepared to objectively evaluate opportunities and make the best decision for your brand, property or client. Finding that authentic connection will make brand building that much easier and leave all parties with positive results to share at the next executive meeting.
In conclusion, the most successful partnerships are those that involve both brands and properties cooperating and building collective brand equity together. Establishing clear criteria for partnerships, ensuring brand alignment and fit, and articulating key metrics for success early on will allow partnerships to grow and flourish.
Kim Saunders, Vice President, ESG Strategy and Community Impact, Canadian Tire Corporation
Marijke Vandergrift, Associate Director, Sponsorship, SickKids Foundation