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Marketing Strategy

Co-Marketing Vs. Co-Branding: What's the Difference?

Carly Stec

By Carly Stec

Nov 27, 2013

Co-Marketing Vs. Co-Branding: What's the Difference?

Two is better than one.

Think about all of the great things that come in pairs that wouldn't be as effective without their counterpart (cookies without milk? seriously?)

By bringing together the top minds in your industry, your brand has the potential to ascend to a level of success not previously seen through solo efforts. 

When I think of co-marketing and co-branding opportunities, a lot of success stories come to mind.

In the past couple of weeks here at IMPACT, we asked two of our clients, Force Management, and Newport Board Group to make a guest appearance on our blog. This co-marketing effort gave our clients an opportunity to expand their reach, while providing our readers with fresh, informative content.

With just a few internal links back to their website, the featured articles, "5 Ways to Gain Trust in the Sales Process", and "5 Steps for Successfully Growing Your Business" successfully generated leads for our clients, and increased our credibility as a reliable, trusted source for information.

Whether you take on a simple approach like ours, or make moves with another brand to initiate a co-branding campaign (Taco Bell's Doritos Locos tacos anyone?), relationship marketing is a great way to gain exposure for your brand.

With this in mind, we've generated a co-marketing/co-branding breakdown to simplify the terminology, and highlight the potential benefits.

What's the Difference?

While both approaches involve a partnership between two brands looking to increase their individual marketing efforts, co-branding and co-marketing stray from one another in terms of execution.


Co-marketing occurs when two like-minded brands align their marketing efforts to promote each other’s product or service. While a hybrid product is not created, a co-marketing undertaking allows brands to leverage their relationships with other brands.

Co-marketing campaigns aim to deliver greater results in terms of visibility, reach, and sales advances that could not have been accomplished without the support of another brand.


Co-branding refers to a marketing arrangement where two different brands join forces to create a product or service indicative of both their identities.  This approach opens up an opportunity for one brand to introduce their product or service to the devotees of another brand.

Identify the Right Partner


If your brand is looking to get involved in a co-marketing partnership, a good starting point would be to identify a list of brands that you would be interested in teaming up with. This list can be as long or short as you choose, however, we suggest getting as many down as you can and then begin to narrow them down according to effectively and practicality.

While you want to consider brands that coincide well with one another, it's best to steer clear of direct competitors. You don't want your marketing efforts to rival one another, but rather complement one another.

A brand with similar buyer personas, similar marketing ideologies, yet different products and services will see the most success with co-marketing.


Selecting a partner for a co-branding opportunity is very similar in terms of what to look for. However, it came often be easier to identify the product or service you would like to create first, and then work towards selecting a brand based off this decision.

A good fit for co-branding would likely be someone who could benefit from the endeavor similarly, while sustaining the proper funding and resources to support their end of the agreement. In terms of crossover appeal, it is important for your buyer personas to be receptive to your partner's brand identity, and vice versa.

Reap the Benefits

Once you've acquired a partner, it is important to lay out the groundwork for your marketing campaign before anything else.

By working out the details in advance there will be no confusion about what you expect out of one another. It is important to determine how and when to carry out the necessary tasks on your end, and prepare your staff in accordance with these stipulations.

Once you've got a handle on the execution, you can begin to enforce your marketing efforts. Depending upon the arrangements you make with your partner, their are a number of potential benefits that can stem from your campaign:


Mailing List Exposure:

If both brands have a strong customer mailing list, they can utilize their contact database to introduce their partner's brand. This type of exposure makes it easy to establish new networking opportunities, as it doubles your reach.

Increased Access to Resources:

While you should aim to partner with a brand on a equal playing field, they may posses alternative resources that you can take advantage of. Whether it is software, strategies, or relationships with industry leaders, your brand should seek out any opportunity to incorporate these things into your campaign.

Heightened Credibility:

Co-marketing endeavors help to build your brand's credibility as they work to get your name out there. Not only is your visibility increased, but also the arrangement made between you and your partner is reflective of the level of trust they are willing to invest in your brand.

Saved Time:

Co-marketing permits your brand instant access to an entire database of new customers. It would take a great deal of time for your brand to acquire such an expansive contact database organically, which is why co-marketing is incredibly effective in terms of the time you save, and the rate in which you see results.


Less Expensive:

Marketing a new product or service is not always budget-friendly. Co-branding opportunities allow you to launch a new product or service, and split the expenses with your partner. Double the exposure; half the price. Who could argue with that?

New Market Exposure:

While your brand's products and services may have resonated with only one audience in the past, co-branding efforts will expand your potential to reach uncharted territory. Working your way into your partner's market will increase the likelihood of attracting new customers back to your brand, allowing you to establish new customer relationships.

Doubled Hype Surrounding the Release:

When two brands come together to release a special product or service, it is natural for people to be curious about the outcome. This type of buzz can be enhanced by each individual brand promoting the release on their social media outlets, encouraging people to get involved in conversations centered around the collaboration. Twice the hype helps to lay a foundation for a successful product release.

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