Co-branding, Co-marketing, Co-creation: what’s the difference?


Co-branding is when two distinct brands team up to create a unique product or service that works across their combined audiences, which they could not offer individually. This type of partnership involves the composition (ingredients, materials..), design, and the name of the product or service created. It should be a representation of both brands involved, sticking the name of the other brand on its product is not enough.

Co-branding is a way for brands to share costs or combine skills or images considered complementary.

Of course, the success of co-branding relies upon the choice of the brand to partner with and the reputation of all brands involved. They all need to have something to gain and should provide some value to one other in order for the partnership to be a win-win.

What are the advantages? The brands involved can potentially:

  • benefit from each others reputation

  • engage with current customers in a fresh and innovative way

  • grow their community

  • win new customers

  • increase sales

  • extend their visibility to a market they may not have had access to before

  • strengthen their brand equity/credibility

  • reinforce or evolve their positioning

  • offer something new at reduced costs


  1. Both brands should have a shared set of values and appeal to the same style of customers, but they should not be exactly the same in order to offer real added value

  2. Each brand involved must be transparent and clear on its objectives from the start, working toward a similar goal


LEGO x Adidas

LEGO® x Adidas® ZX 8000

Since the successful launch of the LEGO x Adidas ZX 8000 model in 2020, they have been multiplying partnerships. The pair of UltraBoost DNA was then released in April 2021, with customisable Lego bricks allowing customers to build endless looks. The partnership continues with four additional UltraBoost models ‘ colour pack’ inspired by the colours of the standard lego bricks which should be released soon! Keep an eye out if you are interested!

Ben & Jerry’s x Netflix

In 2020, Ben & Jerry’s partnered up with Netflix to offer a special flavor, perfect for binge-watching. It was called “Netflix and Chill’d”, a combination of peanut butter ice cream with sweet & salty pretzel swirls and fudge brownie.

Another flavor was released the same year, not long after, as part of that collaboration. They’ve introduced Punch Line: a duo of brown butter bourbon and almond ice creams with roasted almonds and chuckles of cherries, ideal for snacking on while watching comedies available on Netflix.


Co-branding and co-marketing are similar concepts, both involve partnerships between brands seeking to strengthen their marketing efforts, but they differ in how they are executed.

Co-marketing aligns the marketing efforts of two brands but does not result in the creation of a new product or service. Instead, they collaborate to promote a shared offer around each other’s brand image and existing products or services.

There are two types:

  1. Marketing or commercial actions that aim to simultaneously promote already existing brands, products or services.

  2. It can also be a well-known and established brand (primary brand) helping a less famous or early stage brand (secondary brand) gain awareness and visibility. Usually, this happens when the primary brand is for example using ingredients, materials or tech softwares from the secondary brand, for its own products/services.

Co-marketing can energise your brand and can be done in many ways:

  • Joint product partnerships

  • Content marketing partnerships

  • Promotional campaigns

  • Advertising

  • Events

  • Sponsoring

  • Loyalty program

  • Product placement

  • Social media contests

It is valuable for all brands that want to widen their audience, increase brand awareness, and offer a new type of content to their customers.


  1. Have similar audiences

  2. Set mutual goals

  3. The purpose of the project must be similar for both brands involved

  4. There needs to be benefit parity

  5. Don’t partner with brands that could bring down your credibility

  6. Partner with brands that have the expertise you don’t have which your audience is interested in


Miller Lite x New Balance Shoezie Release: A Shoe for Your Beer

The partnership comes ahead of fathers day this year and will be a limited edition, available in the US only.

“The Shoezie brings together two brands that confidently celebrate their connection with dads” said Jeff McAdams, VP of global marketing for New Balance.


Co-creation is the practice of involving a brand’s audience (large or small) in the creation of a product, name, slogan, or advertising campaign, at no cost.

For example, when deciding on a new product, the consumers can vote for a new texture, color, shape, textile, or flavor…

Co-creation allows to:

  • Have a deep understanding of the target audience, their behaviors and expectations

  • Be customer-centric, putting their experience at the heart of every decision

  • Build a powerful community

Engaging with a brand’s community opens up a wide range of opportunities to innovate, experiment, test, collect data, validate ideas, and disrupt the market. It is essential for brands to improve their agility, flexibility, and culture in order to appeal to consumers and build brand loyalty. It will help brands and businesses transform for the better.

Nowadays, co-creation without social media is nearly impossible and for the last decade, co-creation & influencer marketing has been booming. Brands are partnering with influencers that are loved by a large number of people, to create entirely new verticals and product lines.

Influencers are social media celebrities, giving no choice to brands but to co-create with them.


Chiara Ferragni x Nespresso

Pamela x NA-KD

However, while co-creating with influencers has become common, brands are now starting to understand that each individual can have an impact and influence their own circle, no matter how many followers they have. Brands are facing the hard fact that their customers have bigger and stronger social media platforms than they do. Consumer voices are often more powerful than the brand's own voice as they are seen as more authentic and trustworthy.

It’s more about passion. With passion, everyone can create content that resonates, have excellent product ideas, and have the ability to influence the perceptions and decisions of the people around them.

In other words, Co-branding, Co-marketing, and Co-creation are collaborative partnerships that are a source of innovation, growth, and collaboration. Collective thinking and action are key for all brands who want to be part of the post-pandemic world.

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