Brand alignment with Morgan MotorsWhen entering into a partnership it is crucial that you feel that your brand values are aligned. The biggest red flag is when a company has evidently not taken the time to research and understand your brand’s ethos, history or product. It’s difficult to find common ground with a company who have no interest in you beyond financials. As a business, the main aim of a partnership is, ultimately, driving sales and widening your brand exposure. But to compromise your brand integrity for the sole purpose of achieving increased sales is ill-advised – especially for small-to-medium-sized businesses who generally have a more personal relationship with their customers. A spike in sales is rarely worth a long-term tarnishing or selling-out of the brand’s image. The foundations of a partnership are no different to the fundamentals of wider business. Just as it is very difficult to go into business with someone without mutual respect, neither should you enter a partnership with a brand who are equally unreceptive. A strong personal relationship between the key figures at the two brands is vital. It was for this reason that Morgan Motors and ourselves conducted our meetings face-to-face, never on email or over the phone. We both took the time out to show the other party our production facilities, and to fully immerse each other in our brands’ histories and operations. Both companies’ senior designers also spent many hours together, and throughout the whole process everyone from both parties remained flexible and open minded. This formed the basis of an excellent business relationship, that was underpinned by a strong personal bond. We see Morgan Motors as a brave company. It is a traditional brand, but not traditional thinkers: if you were to go to a focus group with the idea of a three-wheeler car in 2016, I’m sure conventional wisdom would be extremely skeptical. But it took a risk – and look at how popular it has been.
Avoiding partnership risksOf course, there are always risks involved in a partnership. This could be inflexibility from one or both of the sides involved, or one company overshadowing the other in what should be a 50/50 partnership. That is certainly a danger for a smaller business which risks ploughing a lot of money into a partnership with a far bigger brand. There’s a chance that you could be drowned out and viewed as an add-on by the consumer, rather than being taken seriously as a company in its own right. Some statistics argue 90 per cent of brand partnerships fail, but I’m confident we won’t have that problem. The reason you do your due diligence and take your time in making the decision is to ensure that you are on equal footing. That being said, quantifying success could be difficult. Driving sales, collaborating on innovative products (such as the new watches we are launching with Morgan Motors) and wider brand exposure are the main goals. But if we are still in partnership in five years’ time, I would consider that a success in itself. The challenge from this point onwards is how best we work together to maximise the benefits of the partnership. I doubt we will seek further partnerships any time soon. For a premium brand, I think it is better for us to carefully pick and take our time. Rushing into collaborations risks over-saturating your brand and there is a threat of appearing desperate.
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