Creating a positive brand for your business through association

One of the most tried and tested tools in the brand manager’s box of tricks is to associate their product or service with another in order to benefit from the 3rd party’s existing positive branding.

Examples include Nike’s use of sport stars, perfume’s use of leading movie stars and the partnership between Coke and McDonalds. Any business, no matter how big or small can use this tactic, including yours.

Here are some ideas you can apply to your business to build your brand


Interviewing leading names in your industry is a great way to associate your brand with them.

Although this is not a close relationship, their presence on your website demonstrates to prospective customers you are a serious player and the interviewee has by de facto endorsed your product.


A more involved and costly approach, sponsoring events and websites that your customers are interested in has multiple benefits.

Firstly, it puts your name in front of your target audience, and secondly you are seen to be a beneficiary of the industry.

Joint research

Running a survey in conjunction with an established though leader provides you with an opportunity to put yourself at the centre of the conversation.

The research findings can also be used as the basis for a series of joint press releases, expanding your relationship even further.


Competitions can go both ways, each with their benefits.

You can approach other companies to offer your products as the prize, and be seen by their customer base, or you can ask them to offer something to your customers.

Guest articles

Similar to interviews, these require little investment beyond time.

Whilst their impact may be small on a one off basis, if you start a regular series or run them across multiple websites consistently, you’ll really start to see customer’s awareness, and perception of you, rise.

Additionally, these are also a good way to build back links to your website.


Being endorsed by a business or a celebrity helps to establish your brand and to reduce customer’s perceived risk.

Whilst a national celebrity endorsement may cost too much for many small businesses, you can look to local stars (footballers, ice hockey players etc.).

The endorsements don’t have to be from people either, and you should show the logos of companies you have worked with on your home page.



A partnership is the most involved of all these ideas, and require the most though and attention. A badly conceived partnership can be detrimental for both partners.

On the flip side, if both companies share the same values, complement each other and are not competing in the same product space, they can be a raging success.

Well known successes include McDonalds and Disney, Nike and Michael Jordan and more recently Apple and Twitter.

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