Creating Co-branded Content & Collateral for Through Channel Marketing – A Detailed Guide

Published on
September 25, 2023

Through Channel Marketing (TCM) is a strategic approach employed in the IT software industry, where software developers or vendors collaborate with their channel partners, including distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), and system integrators, to jointly market and promote their software solutions.  

This collaborative strategy is instrumental in expanding market reach and capitalizing on the specialized knowledge and regional presence of channel partners, ensuring that IT software products and services effectively penetrate target markets.  

In the world of TCM, co-branded content and collateral play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of marketing efforts. As per Forrester, almost 60-70% of content that is generated by B2B organizations remain unused owing to the lack of buyer insights.

A comprehensive TCM strategy is vital for generating content that resonates with channel partners and end-consumers. This involves the identification of buyer insights, conducting market research, and blending content requirements for specific customer segments. This will eventually lead to improved engagement and sales.

The Role of TCM in Modern Marketing  

TCM has become an integral part of modern marketing strategies for several reasons:

Market Expansion: TCM enables brands to tap into new markets and customer segments that may have been challenging to reach directly. Channel partners provide access to a broader geographical reach.

Local Insights: Channel partners possess valuable insights into local markets, including customer preferences and cultural nuances. Leveraging this knowledge allows for more effective and tailored marketing efforts.

Cost Efficiency: Collaborative marketing with channel partners can significantly reduce marketing costs. Brands and partners share resources, making campaigns more cost-effective.

Credibility and Trust: Customers often trust the recommendations of their local channel partners. When partners endorse a brand's product or service, it can build credibility and trust among potential customers.

Customization: TCM allows for customization of marketing materials to suit the unique needs of different markets, ensuring that messages resonate with local audiences.

The Significance of Co-Branding

Co-branding has become an invaluable tool for businesses engaged in Through Channel Marketing. It allows brands to reach new audiences, enhance their credibility, and create innovative marketing campaigns. By carefully selecting the right partners and following best practices, businesses can unlock the full potential of co-branded content and collateral to drive their marketing efforts to new heights.

a. Explaining the Concept of Co-Branding:

Co-branding is essentially a marketing strategy where two or more brands come together to create joint content or products. This collaboration can take various forms, such as co-authored eBooks, co-hosted webinars, or co-branded merchandise. The key principle is that each brand contributes its unique strengths to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

b. Highlighting the Benefits of Co-Branding in TCM:

Through Channel Marketing (TCM) involves leveraging partners and intermediaries to reach a wider audience. Co-branding plays a significant role in TCM due to the following benefits:

Expanded Reach: Co-branding allows businesses to tap into their partners' customer base, reaching a broader and potentially new audience.

Enhanced Credibility: Associating with a trusted partner can boost your brand's credibility and authority in the eyes of consumers.

Cost Efficiency: Sharing the costs of marketing efforts with a partner can significantly reduce expenses, making it a cost-effective strategy.  

Diverse Expertise: Partners often bring diverse expertise, which can lead to more comprehensive and valuable content or collateral.

Innovation: Collaboration fosters creativity and innovation, enabling the development of unique marketing campaigns that stand out.

c. Creating Co-Branding Guidelines:

A good belief is to have simplified co-branding guidelines, as suggested by channel marketing experts.  

Co-branding guidelines are essential for maintaining consistency, protecting brand equity, ensuring legal compliance, and maximizing the benefits of the partnerships. They serve as a framework for successful collaboration and help both parties achieve their business and marketing objectives.

The more difficult it is to get assets approved by brands, the less partners want to work with their brands — that's what we hear over and over again from our partners,” - that’s what the President of SproutCloud, Gary Ritkes had to say. “When the brand approval process is too strict or time consuming, it absolutely decreases the partners’ motivation to co-market.”

For instance, Xerox came up with co-branding guidelines and resources for its partners to leverage the strength of the brand through their marketing campaigns.

Xerox Cobranding Guidelines
Source: Xerox

Simplifying brand guidelines for partners makes sense,” - the Head of Marketing for Q2E, Mike Gallagher quoted. “For example, campaigns are often comprised of dozens of assets, each of which have their own distinct guidelines. Simplifying the guidelines on the elements of a campaign that partners are likely to touch — emails and landing pages, for instances — is going to eliminate much of the friction that keeps them from participating more enthusiastically.

Setting Clear Objectives

In the dynamic world of marketing, businesses are continually seeking innovative ways to expand their reach and influence. One such strategy that has gained traction in recent years is co-branding. Co-branding involves collaboration between two or more companies to create marketing content and collateral that promote their products or services. To harness the full potential of co-branding in Through Channel Marketing (TCM), it's crucial to start with a clear set of objectives.

a. Explaining the Need for Setting Clear Co-Branding Objectives:

Clear objectives serve as the foundation for any successful co-branding effort. They provide direction, purpose, and a measurable framework for evaluating the success of the partnership. Without well-defined objectives, co-branding initiatives can become unfocused and fail to deliver the desired outcomes.

b. Outline Common Co-Branding Objectives in TCM:

In TCM, co-branding objectives typically revolve around enhancing market presence, expanding customer reach, and driving revenue. Here are some common co-branding objectives in TCM:  

Increase Brand Awareness: Co-branding can help raise the profile of both collaborating brands, ensuring that they are top-of-mind for potential customers.  

Reach New Audiences: By partnering with complementary businesses, companies can access a wider and potentially untapped customer base.  

Generate Leads: Co-branded content can serve as a lead generation tool, capturing contact information from interested prospects.  

Drive Sales: Ultimately, co-branding aims to boost revenue by influencing consumers to make purchasing decisions.  

Enhance Credibility: Associating with a trusted partner can improve a brand's credibility and reputation in the market.

Creating Co-Branded Content

Creating co-branded content and collateral in Through Channel Marketing can be a powerful strategy for expanding reach and influence. By following a structured process that includes brainstorming, content creation, and a thorough review and approval process, businesses can develop compelling content that resonates with their target audience.

a. Steps to Develop Co-Branded Content:  

Co-branded content development involves a structured approach to ensure that both parties involved benefit from the collaboration. Here are the key steps:

Identify the Right Partner: Select a partner whose goals and target audience align with yours. Ensure there is a mutually beneficial value proposition in the partnership.  

Define Clear Objectives: Establish what you aim to achieve with the co-branded content. Whether it's increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or educating the audience, clarity on objectives is paramount.  

Research and Planning: Gather information on your target audience, market trends, and the content types that resonate with them. Plan the content accordingly.  

Brainstorming and Ideation: Brainstorming sessions are where creativity flourishes. Both partners should participate in brainstorming to generate ideas that align with the established objectives. During this phase:  

  • Encourage open communication and free-flowing ideas.
  • Consider different content formats such as blogs, webinars, videos, infographics, or eBooks.
  • Ensure that the ideas reflect both brands' values and interests.

Content Creation and Design: After solidifying the concepts, it's time to execute them. Here's how:

  • Assign roles and responsibilities for content creation. Determine who will write, design, and develop the content.
  • Ensure that the content is engaging, informative, and aligns with the brands' messaging.
  • Pay close attention to design elements, using both brands' visual identity to maintain consistency.

Review and Approval Process: Collaboration involves compromise and alignment. Establish a review and approval process that both parties are comfortable with:

  • Share drafts of the content for feedback and revisions.
  • Ensure that any necessary changes are made to meet both partners' standards.
  • Clearly define who has the final say in approvals to avoid conflicts.

b. Highlight the Importance of Alignment with Brand Guidelines:  

Maintaining brand consistency is crucial in co-branded content. Both partners should adhere to their respective brand guidelines to ensure a unified and professional image. Key aspects to consider include:

  • Logo usage and placement: Ensure that both logos are featured prominently and appropriately in the collateral.
  • Color schemes: Harmonize color choices to create a cohesive design.
  • Typography: Use fonts that match each brand's typography for a consistent look.
  • Tone and messaging: Ensure that the content's voice aligns with both brands' communication styles and values.

Co-Branding Best Practices

Co-branded content and collateral are potent tools in Through Channel Marketing, allowing brands to leverage each other's strengths and resources to achieve mutual goals. However, success in co-branding relies on adherence to best practices.

a. Maintaining Brand Consistency:  

Co-branding should enhance, not dilute, the image of each participating brand. Here's how to maintain brand consistency in co-branded content and collateral:

Align on Brand Guidelines: Ensure that both brands have clear and shared brand guidelines covering logo usage, colors, typography, and messaging tone.  

Create a Style Guide: Develop a style guide specifically for co-branded materials, highlighting how each brand's elements should be presented together.  

Consistent Design Language: Use a unified design language that blends both brands' visual identities seamlessly. This helps create a harmonious and professional appearance.  

Clear Messaging: Ensure that the messaging in co-branded content reflects the values and mission of both brands. Consistency in voice and messaging is crucial.  

b. Legal Considerations:  

Navigating the legal aspects of co-branding is critical to avoid potential conflicts and protect intellectual property. Here are key legal considerations:

Trademark and Copyright Permissions: Obtain written consent and permissions from both brands to use their trademarks, logos, and copyrighted materials in co-branded content.  

Co-Branding Agreement: Draft a comprehensive co-branding agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the partnership, including content ownership, usage rights, and dispute resolution mechanisms.  

Review by Legal Experts: Consult with legal experts experienced in co-branding to ensure compliance with trademark and copyright laws. This step can help mitigate risks and prevent legal disputes.  

c. Communication and Collaboration with Partners:  

Effective communication and collaboration are the cornerstones of successful co-branding. Consider the following practices:  

Open and Transparent Dialogue: Maintain open lines of communication with your co-branding partners from the outset. Discuss objectives, roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

Set Clear Goals: Define clear, mutually beneficial objectives for the co-branded initiative. This helps all parties understand what they are working toward.  

Designate a Point of Contact: Appoint a single point of contact from each organization to streamline communication and decision-making processes.  

Regular Updates: Schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, address any challenges, and adjust strategies as needed. Collaboration tools and project management software can facilitate this process.  

Celebrate Successes: Celebrate milestones and successes together to strengthen the partnership and build goodwill.

Distribution and Promotion

Distribution and promotion are integral components of this process, as they determine how far your content can reach and how effectively it engages your target audience. By leveraging strategies such as partner networks, digital platforms, social media, email marketing, and events, you can maximize the impact of your co-branded campaigns.

a. Strategies for Distributing Co-Branded Content and Collateral:  

Distribution is the key to ensuring your co-branded content reaches its intended audience. Consider the following strategies:

Leverage Partner Networks: Utilize the networks and channels of your co-branding partners to amplify the reach of your content.  

Utilize Digital Platforms: Share co-branded content on your website, blog, and partner websites. This ensures that the content is easily accessible to your online audience.  

Email Marketing: Incorporate co-branded content into your email marketing campaigns, targeting relevant segments of your audience.  

Content Syndication: Partner with industry-specific platforms or publications to syndicate your co-branded content, reaching a wider and more targeted audience.  

b. Promotional Channels for Co-Branded Content:  

Promoting co-branded content effectively is crucial for achieving your marketing goals. Explore various promotional channels:

Social Media: Share co-branded content on your social media profiles, as well as on your partner's pages. Use relevant hashtags and engage with your audience to generate discussions.  

Email Marketing: Craft engaging email campaigns that highlight the value of your co-branded content. Include compelling subject lines and clear calls to action.  

Events and Webinars: Host joint webinars, virtual events, or workshops to present your co-branded content to a live audience. These interactive sessions can create engagement and generate leads.  

Paid Advertising: Invest in paid advertising campaigns on platforms like Google Ads or social media to promote your co-branded content to a targeted audience.  

Influencer Partnerships: Collaborate with industry influencers to help promote your co-branded content to their followers, lending credibility and reach to your campaign.

c. Tracking and Measuring Success:

To determine the impact of your co-branded campaigns, it's essential to track and measure their performance:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Define KPIs such as website traffic, lead generation, engagement rates, and conversion rates to gauge the success of your campaigns.

Tracking Tools: Use web analytics tools like Google Analytics and social media analytics platforms to monitor the performance of your co-branded content.  

A/B Testing: Experiment with different distribution channels and promotional strategies to identify what works best for your co-branded content.  

Feedback and Surveys: Gather feedback from your audience to understand their preferences and needs, helping you refine future co-branded campaigns.  

ROI Calculation: Evaluate the return on investment (ROI) for your co-branded efforts by comparing the cost of the campaign to the generated revenue or leads.

Case Studies

Over the years, Databricks has cultivated a robust partnership with Microsoft Azure Synapse, and this collaboration has only strengthened with time. While Databricks had already been successfully engaging with enterprises on an account-based level, they were eager to find a scalable approach to initiate a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy through their top system integrator partners.

HSV Digital stepped in to collaborate closely with these partners, helping define a compelling joint value proposition and outlining key customer calls-to-action (CTAs). Together, we worked on developing essential foundational assets that would serve as the backbone for launching comprehensive sales, marketing, and co-selling initiatives.

Databricks Feedback

Once the key partner capabilities and CTAs were clearly defined, we consolidated them into an informative e-book designed for sellers. This resource empowered them with valuable insights about the partner ecosystem, enabling them to engage more effectively.  

Summing Up

TCM revolves around the idea of leveraging partner networks to amplify your message. Co-branding takes this concept a step further by combining the strengths of multiple brands. When two or more reputable brands come together, their collective influence can resonate more powerfully with the audience. This enables you to tap into new markets and demographics that may have been challenging to access on your own.

A dedicated marketing agency like HSV Digital can help your organization with crucial planning for Through Channel Marketing. Contact us today to get started.

Co-branded content and collateral often come with built-in credibility. When you partner with trusted organizations, you borrow some of their trust equity. This can be invaluable, especially when targeting new or skeptical audiences. Consumers are more likely to engage with content that features brands they recognize and trust.

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