How Brands Can Tap Into Culture Through Partnerships

By Ben Nesvig

Every brand wants to be relevant and maintain their place in culture. When a brand is deeply embedded in culture, people form an emotional attachment to the brand, which directly translates to a consumer’s willingness to spend money on a product or service. The higher the emotional attachment, the more they’re willing to pay.

So how can any brand stay relevant and participate in culture?

One of the best ways to tap into the cultural zeitgeist is by finding the perfect brand partnership, whether that’s with an influencer or complimentary brand. But what brand or celebrity makes for a great fit? How can you avoid the head scratching collaborative moments?

In this article, we explore how to find the perfect partnership plus example of brands that have done it well (not Pepsi with Kendall Jenner).

kendall Jenner - Pepsi

How to Find the Right Brand Partner

What is your audience’s worldview?

Brands should aim to find influencers and partners who share the same worldview as the people who consume their product. For example, if Velveeta cheese wanted to partner with influencers, it’s probably best that they avoid organic vegans altogether.

Bud Light found a perfect match in partnering with Post Malone. Those who are big fans of Post Malone are likely also Bud Light drinkers, given that they are typically younger, college-age consumers. The two audiences share the same worldview, making the partnership feel authentic (and much more effective).

Who does your audience aspire to be?

This simple question can point you in the direction of the right partner for your brand. We’re all incomplete and see people a little further along on the journey than us, whether that’s in fitness, fashion, parenthood, or any of the countless niches.

Naturopathica’s partnership with Instagram influencer @ShutTheKaleUp provides a great example of a brand partnering in an authentic way with someone who is aspirational to people in the wellness community. Her followers know that if she is endorsing a product, it is because she believes in it. With this promotion, her followers can be more like her by using the product.

View this post on Instagram

first time masking together, just in time for the holidays 👻 current situation – kombucha face mask and to be totally honest, it’s my favorite mask i’ve ever tried. the first time i discovered @naturopathica was on our honeymoon before STKU even existed. we had been walking around NYC in the freezing cold and stumbled upon the cutest little shop that sold holistic skincare and served lattes. but not just any lattes, ones made with REAL ingredients.. right up my alley! i obviously fell in love and now every time we’re in the city, it’s tradition to stop by and visit our friends. t-minus 9 days til we’re back in our favorite city to celebrate 4yrs strong 👫🏙 #shutthekaleup #thefrickinogdens

A post shared by jeannette ogden (@shutthekaleup) on

Who is popular in my niche on YouTube?

I’ll say it: Celebrities are overrated (at least traditional Hollywood celebrities). The vast majority of brands don’t need the Michael Jordan/Gatorade type of celebrity endorsement that was popular in the ’80s and ’90s.

Today, there are people you’ve never heard of who have millions of subscribers on YouTube. For a great example of this, look at the opening of the Morphe store at the Mall of America that featured YouTuber James Charles. Over 3,000 kids lined up for hours for the chance to meet him.

No matter which niche your brand is in, you should know the influential YouTubers who have the power to give your brand a big boost.

Get More Insights Into Culture

Learn more about how your brand can stay culturally relevant when you download the Culture Issue of Trend Tap.

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