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Co-Branding: Beyond Brand Equity

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I read a FANTASTIC article “Equity in Coporate Co-Branding: The case of the All Blacks and adidas”.  It described the evolution of adidas’ sponsorship of the All Blacks rugby team into a co-branding partnership. 

Co-branding should be considered the apex of the sponsorship pyramid.  Below, is an except from a section of my work on sponsorship components.  Co-branding is discussed at the end.

Brands have utilized sponsorships to increase brand awareness and brand image for the purpose of building brand equity with their intended audience (Cornwell, Roy, & Steinard, 2001).  Brand awareness relates to a consumers ability to recognize and recall a brand (Keller, 1993).  Brand image is the consumer’s association of the brand in terms of: favorability, strength, and uniqueness (Bauer, Stokburger-Sauer, & Exler, 2008).                                       

Research has demonstrated a sponsorship to be the most effective in building brand equity when a brand’s image is a fit with the property’s (Cunningham, Cornwell, & Coote, 2009).  Furthermore, brand equity enables the brand to position itself within the consumer’s expectations for brand performance (Ferreira, Hall, & Bennett, 2008).  The alignment of a brand’s image with a property’s, propagates brand loyalty from the consumer of a sporting event, or franchise, to the brand.  The expectation of which is an increase in revenue for the brand directly attributable to the positioning of a brand with a property (Maxwell, 2009).

Sponsorships can be deemed a co-branding exercise when the brand and property’s image are positively impacted by a partnership (McDonald,, 2001).  Motion, Leitch, and Brodie (2003) stipulate, “… co-branding is not simply cooperation between two organizations, but must involve public linkage of corporate brands that are owned or controlled by two different organizations.” To effectively build a co-branding partnership, the partners must share core values which enable them to enter the marketplace and compete effectively.  

A successful co-branding partnership will:

  1. Communicate clearly and consistently the co-brand promise
  2. Differentiate the co-brand promise
  3. Enhance the esteem and loyalty of consumer, stakeholders, and networks (Balmer, 2001, p.14)

The subject of Motion, Leitch, and Brodie’s (2003) work was the co-branding of New Zealand Rugby Union’s (NZRU), All Blacks with adidas.  The effort was successful because NZRU and adidas sought to make the rugby consumer perceive them as a unified organization.  The change in perception was intended to change their consumers and stakeholders behavior.  To achieve their co-branding objective, adidas and NZRU officials sought first to align their brand values, and secondly to gain the public’s “acceptance of the articulation” of the co-branding endeavor. 

NZRU and adidas shared the goal of establishing the All Blacks presence internationally.  The All Blacks and adidas pursed their goal by emphasizing the core values which their brands shared “excellence, respect, and humility”.  Furthermore, adidas embraced the All Blacks as a representation of the values of New Zealand; therefore, the co-branding was consistent with the All Blacks brand image.


Written by Peter Amador

March 22, 2010 at 8:57 AM

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