Why Collaboration Is Great for Your Brand and Your Customers
Collaboration Blog Jewelled Buddha.jpg

As a small business I hear the word collaboration a lot. Gone are the days of competing to survive the dog-eat-dog world of business. Now, it's all about teaming up with other like-minded businesses (or even your rivals), to achieve a common goal where everyone comes out a winner. But does it work?

You only have to watch an episode of The Apprentice to see how collaboration can go wrong.  We've seen time and time again the competitive ego's of contestants take over. The result? Exactly what you see in the boardroom - disappointing goals, disgruntled faces and the inevitable trip to the dreary café for a polystyrene cup of coffee.

Translate this into the world of retail and I've heard too many stories where self - interest and ego's get in the way of what could be successful long-term partnerships. Promising pop-ups that promise little, other than disappointing sales, a lack of promotional marketing and hefty fees. Then there are the product reviews that don't materialise into anything more than a mere mention and a freebie. When one person gets more out of the collaboration than the other, a lack of trust inevitably leads to a breakdown of relationships. Competitiveness sneaks its way back in. Speaking to other business owners, there seems to be a recurring theme on why collaborations are going wrong. Aside from ego's, there's a lack of transparency, communication issues and disappointing results. In the end it all adds up to the inefficient use of time, money and effort. But it doesn't have to be this way. 

My journey of collaborating with businesses has been a gradual learning process. I've had to say no to some, because I feel they're not in line with my values. However, I've also experienced some great collaborations. Currently, I'm partnering with three other businesses for a promotion that demonstrates that collaboration is great for your brand.

It all started when Rachel Ward, Founder of Luks Linen put the word out that she was looking for like-minded businesses to collaborate with. Before you know it, Catherine Cornelissen Founder of Décor A List and Karolina Barnes, Chief Editor of Estila Magazine, were also on board. We came up with the idea of supporting each other in the run up to Christmas with various promotions and PR activities. It helped that we all knew and respected each others' values and businesses. There was a common ground we all shared and we genuinely want to help each other! Some of our products may overlap, but there's no competition between us. We're confident in our own space and market. In the end, it provides value to our customers and introduces new products to them that we know they'll love. 

Working collaboratively on a project where everyone benefits is good for business and says more about your values as a brand. It can become an integral part of your brand identity, your mission and a driver for customers to see you as a creative and innovative business. And that's exactly what we're doing. We're all busy communicating this ethos to our customers. As business owners it represents our own personal values. We are transparent, we like to work in partnership and direct competition is just not our style. 

There are some great examples of big brands collaborating. Remember H& M and their collaborations with Alexander Wang, Versace and other luxury brands? Who would have thought that a high street store selling affordable clothing could partner with a high-end luxury brand? But they did. They released exclusive collections that brought quality and luxury to the masses, combining design elements of both and therefore bridging the gap between both brands.

Running a business is hard work. Navigating this increasingly competitive industry requires a healthy dose of creativity, a thick skin and a lot of foresight. If collaborations are going to be successful, the end game is not just about an equal win. It's actually an opportunity to build great relationships that your customers will thank you for.



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