17.5 More on brands: co-branding & brand detachment

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    Join forces. Coworking with third parties is one of the forces behind the vision-driven organization. In the case of co-branding, we are talking about working with another brand with the aim of launching a new (combined) product.

    The Senseo coffee-making machine concept by Philips is a prime example. DE Masterblenders is responsible for the coffee. Combined, the Senseo coffee machine and the coffee pads provided a new and improved coffee experience. Both parties have their own turnover, but the branding of the two companies is done together.

    Unilever makes Starbucks ice cream and transfers the license for brand use to Starbucks. Apple’s iPod can be connected to Nike running shoes, making a personal running computer. This adds more value than just a running shoe or a digital audio player. Clothing retailer H&M co-brands as well. Every year, customers line up for the special H&M collection, designed by a prominent name in the fashion world, i.e.: Victor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, Karl Lagerfeld. Both H&M and the top fashion designer get increased exposure. What do we call this? It’s a matter of looking past your own shadow.

    Brand detachment is earned by saying goodbye to core processes. Initially, brand detachment meant that the consumer lost his or her interest in a brand. Lately, the term is also used when a manufacturer ceases its core activity and corresponding core processes, and only focuses on the brand. The brand has then become the proposition, and all underlying services have been outsourced to co-producers. It frequently makes us think – which is a good thing – about the core activities of our enterprise.

    In the past, the core activity of an airline was flying planes. Now that Airbus or Boeing makes almost all commercial aircraft, there are few distinguishing features to be found in them. The airline could outsource the actual flights and focus on ticket sales and service. In due course, it may no longer be important if the right “brand” is printed on the plane, as long as the right customer experience is created with and in the aircraft. This is a different field than owning and maintaining airplanes. Until now, airline companies have routinely outsourced catering, aircraft maintenance, call centers, and ground crews. The last two are involved with direct customer contact, so I would never subcontract these services. Who would outsource their customer “moments of truth” to third parties?
    Originally, Star Alliance was an alliance between traditional airline companies. By now, Star Alliance is increasingly presenting itself as an independent brand, while the member airlines are moving more to the background. It is then just a small next step to outsourcing flights to non-member airline companies.

    Brand detachment can go so far that the proprietor of the brand is no longer the owner in the traditional sense. Take Upload Cinema, for example: a group of people that simply watches Internet videos in a cinema centered around a certain theme. The Upload Cinema website explains that they “take movies out of the domestic setting to a place that is meant for a collective experience, the cinema.”

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