Not everyone has a brand that’s both instantly recognizable and loved.


That’s not to say your brand doesn’t have its own fans, just that it may not inspire a smile of instant recognition and interest. That works against you when it comes to display advertising.


And one solution to this is to crib the cool-factor from another brand in order to plug your promotion. It’s not a brilliant or super-creative solution, but it can certainly work.

Free iPad Anyone?


In fact, this co-branding approach to “borrowing” some other brand’s or product’s cool factor became so pervasive that Apple now legally prohibits organizations from advertising “Free iPads” without their express, written consent.


Again, advertising a free iPad giveaway isn’t cool or creative or something anyone would proudly claim for their digital advertising success book, but it’s a technique that obviously worked.

Co-Branding Doesn’t Have to Feel Icky

More importantly, just because some people use a technique badly doesn’t mean that you can’t use it well.  Just take a look at AppSumo’s brilliant co-branded promotion of Evernote Premium:

Designing a Co-Branded Ad for Instant Recognition & Interest

If you use Evernote (and if you don’t, you really should!), then that little, green, elephant-headed icon sparks instant recognition and an instant smile. Recognition because it’s the same icon for the program that sits in your doc/desktop or in your browser’s toolbar. And a smile because it’s a reminder of a program that is a simple joy to use — one of those programs that really and truly makes life easier.


But because the free version works so well, most people stick with it, even if they’ve wondered how much cooler the premium feature set might be.  So, the icon combined with the billboard style offer of “Evernote Premium Free for Life” makes for an instantly compelling, must-click Facebook ad. Co-branding done to perfection.

Use a Brand that’s Already Associated or Connected with Yours


Yet what makes this ad not just effective but artful, is the associative connection between AppSumo and Evernote. AppSumo is famous for delivering great how-to training on all things digital – and doing it at a discount (as if and Groupon had a baby).  So we’d expect AppSumo to offer a training course on Evernote, something that would show you how to get maximum use out of it, and probably tell you about all the cool stuff you can do with premium if you weren’t too cheap to shell out the $40 per year for it.


And that association between AppSumo and Evernote helps make the whole co-branding thing not only effective, but non-icky, and almost cool in itself. There’s a world of difference between AppSumo giving away Evernote and, say, some used car salesman giving away an iPad.


Co-Branding Takeaways:

  1. Don’t be fooled by the haters: co-branding works, and the more instant recognition and interest your “partner” brand can inspire the better it will work.
  2. Spend time figuring out what icon/logo/picture and word combination to use in order to fully spark and engage that recognition and interest in your audience.
  3. Use a brand that’s already somewhat associated or connected to yours in the mind of your customer.


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