Logo Soup is often appealing, but rarely satisfying; a white background filled with logos of sponsors who have paid for the visibility of being attached to a property, but have received little else in terms of additional value creation. That value creation, a piece so vital to the growth of a relationship between a brand and a property, is often missing for not only the sponsor, but the sponsored.
Think back to the last hockey game you watched either through a screen or in the stands. Among the background noise of the main event are the rink boards; their white backdrop saturated with the logos of those who have supported the league, team or venue via sponsorship dollars. Blurred in the corner of your eye while you watch the puck shoot from end to end, it is clear these sponsors have done little else but purchase real estate. This scene of traditional sponsorship is the perfect example of Logo Soup. When the Logo Soup is spilled – that is, when fund-focused sponsorships turn into meaningful partnerships – those sponsors extend past the rink boards and become integrated through campaign, activation, product creation, content development, and so much more depending on the objectives they wish to meet through their engagement with the property at hand.
This creates more value for the brand sponsoring the property because it establishes far more than just visibility. For the property being sponsored, the initial dollar value of the traditional engagement has the potential of stretching tremendously through new sales, the reach of a co-branded campaign, or the positive consumer interaction accomplished through activation. Strategic partnerships give aligned companies the chance to put their respective names onto something new, providing value to not only each other but to their shared audiences.
The Proof is in the Partnership
As executives with diverse backgrounds, but a streamlined focus on strategic partnership development, the team at TACK10 has worked on, witnessed, and admired a plethora of successful partnerships from a number of industries.
In 2012, WE Charity (formerly known as Free the Children), structured a landmark strategic partnership with PotashCorp, the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity. This partnership was structured in response to the 2011 East Africa drought and with the recognition that food security will continue to be a pressing issue as the world’s population grows from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050. By applying its agricultural expertise to this partnership, PotashCorp has allowed WE to ensure the communities it supports in developing countries are provided with the knowledge, resources and tools to farm optimally.
WE structured a value proposition that resonated with PotashCorp, recognizing the organization as the Founding Partner of the Agriculture and Food Security pillar of their development model. To meet PotashCorp’s objective of engaging youth around the issue of global food security, WE delivers educational curriculum and speaking tours to schools across the country, facilitates international volunteer trips to communities where food security and agriculture programming is implemented and implements its marquee event We Day in PotashCorp’s home province of Saskatchewan. By building a partnership that started from the objectives of PotashCorp and leveraged its expertise, WE was awarded a three-year partnership valued at close to $9.6 million. This partnership has since been extended beyond its initial term.
Another great case study Canadians have had the pleasure of recently witnessing is between Hudson’s Bay Company and Toronto-based brewery Steam Whistle. The two brands partnered in celebration of Canada 150, developing a new line of co-branded bar ware including coasters, bottle openers, a wall-mounted bottle opener, glasses, and a portable cooler. The products don Steam Whistle’s logo and retro feel alongside Hudson’s Bay Company’s iconic stripes. The exclusivity and therefore collective nature of these products, along with the partnership’s full integration are what make it a home run.
Taking a traditional sponsorship approach, Steam Whistle could have engaged with Hudson’s Bay Company and other brands requesting sponsorship. In return, the Hudson’s Bay Company logo could have been included on all Steam Whistle boxes and in signage at events for the duration of the contract, recognizing the brand as a supporter of local, Canadian-run businesses. While this messaging would have been aligned, Hudson’s Bay Company would receive nothing more than the visibility of being included on the box, and Steam Whistle would earn little besides the funds provided by their sponsor. By spilling the logo soup, both brands have created something tangible and of value to their audiences, especially in this time of Canadian celebration. The same can be said of the WE/PotashCorp relationship; the incredible new programs created surrounding the issue of food security may have never existed had the partners not stretched themselves beyond the traditional to find shared value around their respective objectives.
In a perfect world businesses, where applicable, would remove the term sponsorship from their strategic vocabulary entirely – effectively spilling their Logo Soup and broadening the potential to create exponential value through aligned strategic partnerships. The trend has started with initiatives like that of WE and countless others just like it; but to ensure every brand and property has access to the same opportunities for growth, logos on a whiteboard need to be less of an end goal and more of a single element in a bigger partnership picture.