What is Mixed Branding? – Definition and Examples

by Maximilian Claessens
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What is Mixed Branding? – Definition and Examples

Sometimes referred to as ‘Co-Branding’, Mixed Branding is an effective branding strategy that, when used correctly, can be highly influential and effective for businesses who want to widen their customer reach. However, understanding the nuances of this strategy can be tricky, especially as mixed branding isn’t always obvious to customers.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about mixed branding, including what it is, how it works, and why it’s beneficial for businesses. We’ll also cover some examples of mixed branding to give you some inspiration.

What Is Mixed Branding?

So what actually is mixed branding? Simply put, this business strategy is the collaboration between two or more brands, to market the same product to different audiences. This allows individual brands to reach a wider group of people, growing their visibility and brand awareness in the process. On occasion, customers might not even realize that the product being offered is exactly the same, which can cause confusion after the fact. Because of this, a mixed branding style that isn’t clear to consumers can draw some intense criticism, so it’s important that you get your strategy right if you’re looking to implement this branding type for your business.

Another risk of the mixed branding strategy is that if one brand in the collaboration suffers from reputational damage, this can cause a domino effect, and leaves customers viewing their co-brands as unreliable or untrustworthy by association. For any business, there are a number of things that can be done to avoid reputation ruin through partnering with the wrong company, so fortunately, as long as brands keep an eye out for any potential red flags in the early stages, they can maximize the incredible potential of mixed branding and see their sales figures soar.

Occasionally, mixed branding is confused with family branding, where one well-known brand acts as the cornerstone for the promotion of new products that are developed as part of its sub-brands or product lines. Mixed branding differs in that it requires a collaboration between two different brands.

How It Works

Mixed branding is effective as it combines the positive elements of multiple brands to increase the influence of both companies through one planned marketing strategy.

For example, Brand A might be reputable in the world of high-end electronics and sell products at an expensive price point to a small group of people. Brand B could sell a similar product, but at a lower price, making it accessible to a larger number of people. If Brand A and B work together to produce and sell one unique product, using the two brand names, they can align this product to both audiences. By selling at a mid-range price point, this will promote greater brand awareness and accessibility to more consumers.

Brand A and B therefore use their individual qualities to improve the reputation of both brands, encouraging the consumer to feel like they each offer high quality products as well as value for money. This makes mixed branding an effective strategy for brands looking to navigate new target audiences.

Examples Of Mixed Branding

By taking a look at some examples of mixed branding, we can learn more about how successful businesses have implemented it into their overall marketing strategies.Here are some of the most effective mixed branding examples from companies around the world.

  • Xbox and Microsoft

This co-branding combination is one of the most popular examples of mixed branding, and for good reason. Microsoft and Xbox implemented their strategy so well that the two brands now seem interchangeable with one another in the eyes of many of their consumers.

The creation of the Xbox derived from Microsoft’s need to relinquish its reputation as a solely business-like, serious company. The Xbox helped them drive home the message that they were also capable of producing high-class technology in the gaming sphere.

Their subsequent mixed branding strategy means that Microsoft hasn’t suffered any damage to their brand image, and still makes high-powered professional computers, while Xbox benefits from the positive reputation of their parent company.

  • Adidas and Kayne West

One of the most influential mixed branding partnerships of all time comes in the form of Kayne West’s partnership with Adidas. Together, the two brands developed ‘Adidas Yeezy’, a popular pairing that offers streetwear fashion items. By combining Kanye West’s reputation as a successful rapper, with Adidas’ affordability and wide customer reach, this co-brand was able to break down barriers when it came to brand collaborations and pave the way for future partnerships.

Customers saw Adidas Yeezy as an effective combination of the values that they looked for in a company, and flocked to buy their products as a result. Some styles, such as the Cloud White Yeezy 450, have even sold out in under a minute – one of the fastest shoe sell-outs ever.  

  • GoPro and Red Bull

GoPro’s partnership with Red Bull is considered by many to have been the collaboration that launched them into the eyes of the average consumer, thanks to a marketing stunt that went right. Back in 2012, Australian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner performed a planned fall from 24 feet to Earth – from the Stratosphere!

While funded primarily by the Red Bull Stratos project, and kitted out in their gear, Felix filmed his descent on a GoPro camera. The impact of this leap saw sporting and activity enthusiasts around the world rushing to purchase their own version of the product – in fact, the partnership was so successful that both brands continue to collaborate today.

By combining the positive reputation of Red Bull in the sporting world, to the innovation and technology driven world of GoPro, these two brands were able to reach out directly to two different audiences with one collaboration, making the camera one of the most successful examples of mixed branding of all time.

Benefits Of Mixed Branding

Mixed branding comes with a range of benefits for businesses, some of which can almost exclusively  be found through the effective collaboration between brands. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Company Diversification

By tapping into new markets, companies can expand their diversification without having to bring out a range of different products under different brand names – they can use their own in conjunction with another to attract a higher number of customers.

Brands who implement a mixed branding strategy also benefit from greater levels of location reach – for instance, in the cases of local brands who partner with established national or international companies, they have a rare opportunity to bring their business to a larger number of people, boosting their brand diversity.  

  • Improved Reputation

For any brand, reputation is everything, which is why co-branding is popular among marketing teams worldwide. Collaborating with a well-regarded company allows brands to leverage the positive reputation of their partner to drive sales figures and improve their own reception in the market.

  • Higher Perceived Value

Brands who primarily sell products at a low price point often see this benefit when using a mixed branding strategy. These companies can partner with a brand that typically sells high-value or expensive products, and this encourages their own customers to associate their products with value, and therefore be willing to pay a higher price.

  • Lower Risk

Finally, co-branding is an excellent tactic for brands who are looking to branch out into new target audiences or achieve a wider consumer reach, without too much risk. As both brands involved will have a clear understanding of the reputation and success of their partner, they can enter the market at a far lower risk level than they would if they were going it alone.

The same applies to consumers, too – when they see a company they know collaborating with a new business, they won’t consider whether the newcomer brand is trustworthy, as their primary brand has already vetted them and made this decision themselves.

What To Consider Before Co-Branding

If you’re a business owner or manager, and you’re looking to co-brand with a partner company, take some time to step back and make sure you understand the risks involved as well as the benefits. Remember that consumers have a long memory, and partnering with the wrong company in the early stages of your business can cause long-term, or sometimes even irreparable damage to your brand image. Learn from existing, successful examples of mixed branding and try to do it like them or even better than they did.

Another element to consider in a brand partner is whether they have the same enthusiasm about the product as you do. It’s vital that both brands approach the strategy in a positive way to showcase the product in the best light, and being on the same page is the first step to achieving this.

Always ensure that the brand you partner with is a good culture, business and value fit to your own. If you aren’t sure, ask yourself, ‘would I buy from this company?’ If the answer is no, you have some further searching to do before you find the perfect partner for your mixed branding strategy.

But don’t get disheartened – the right collaboration is out there waiting.

Closing Words

By understanding the nuances of mixed branding, you can implement positive changes to your marketing strategy to accommodate co-branding techniques. Reaching out to companies that share your values and invest in their products is a great way to start, and you’ll find the right co-brand before you know it – soon, you’ll be reaping the rewards of an effective mixed branding strategy, with an enhanced reputation and a stronger profit line.

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