When the retail chain Urban Outfitters recently announced that it acquired The Vetri Family restaurant group, founded by Marc Vetri, an Italian-trained, James Beard award-winning chef, many analysts expressed doubt about this co-branding scheme. In fact, doubt is putting it mildly: One analyst called the plan “bonkers,” while more even-handed critics wondered how a hipster retail company would integrate pizza into the business plan.
Once upon a time, similar questions surfaced when concepts such as Subway entered the gas station game. But unlikely alliances such as these are extreme examples of the ways trusted brands can bring more interest and credibility to new venues or menus. Some partnerships are so natural—such as cobranded cookies-and-cream ice cream—that it’s hard to remember one without the other.
Whether merging entire concepts or buying into some branded side dishes, the secret to success is to pick like-minded partners with shared target markets and regions. Fine dining doesn’t make sense in convenience store settings, and nachos are a no-go in an upscale clothing store.
One concept that takes the cake for cobranding momentum is Taco Bell, where Dorito-dusted taco shells and proprietary Mountain Dew drinks bring headlines—and crowds of fans. Alec Boyle, public affairs and brand reputation specialist at Taco Bell, explains that finding the right cobranding opportunities hinges on fitting the tenets of what people love and expect from Taco Bell.
Craveability, portability and affordability are three big priorities, and keeping these in mind has helped Taco Bell use cobranding strategies to break into breakfast, dessert and a hybrid of the two. Boyle reports that the brand’s top-selling desserts are Cinnabon Delights because “customers love the sweet, poppable indulgence they offer, along with the nostalgic twist.”
A newer addition, Cap’n Crunch Delights, has created another dynamic brand duo. “When thinking through potential cereal partners, Cap’n Crunch came up on top as a no-brainer for us,” Boyle says. “As a brand, Cap’n Crunch has a fun and dynamic personality, which resonates well with the Taco Bell consumer. And, the cereal is striking with vibrant colors.”
This no-brainer turned into instant “Instagram darling,” according to Boyle, and should give more concepts proof that the power of cobranding extends beyond the table and out into the social-media stratosphere.
This post is sponsored by Bush’s Best®