Use business partnerships as an Innovation tool

[Want to get automatic updates on ethel cofie’s blog post of Africa, technology, ecosystems and doing business in Africa sign up here ]

Firms achieve more when they adopt a strategy that coordinates the contributions of business, operations, and technology teams to orchestrate the value of their partner ecosystems. By asking all parties to put skin in the game, unite with common ambition, and structure commitments through outcome-driven contracts, the ecosystem of co-innovation partners and internal stakeholders will pull together to reach a common goal.

58% of businesses are now piloting co-creation and partnering on projects to help drive innovation. This collaboration can be the way to discover new market opportunities, push product branding in new directions, or establish a presence in a completely new area. Getting co-creation right takes careful foresight and planning, as well as a deep knowledge of a brand’s customer base.

The aim of most business partnerships focuses on marketing to increase both companies’ brand awareness and net income. In some cases, the partnerships are co-branding. This is a marketing strategy that has two or more brand names on a good or service as part of the strategy.

Below are a few successful marketing business partnerships among top international organizations:

Red Bull & GoPro

Red Bull is an Austrian energy drink company founded in 1987. The CEO and the co-founder of the company are Dietrich Mateschitz.

Go Pro is a portable camera company that also develops mobile apps and video-editing software. Nick Woodman is the founder and CEO of GoPro who got the idea to invent the GoPro on a surf trip in Australia and Indonesia.

They are both (adventurous, fearless and extreme) “lifestyle” brands. These shared interests made them the perfect business partners.

Louis Vuitton & BMW

Louis Vuitton is a French fashion house and luxury goods company founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton in Paris.

BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) is a German multinational producer of luxury vehicles and motorcycles. They are sold under the brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce. Olivier Zipse has been the CEO of the company since 2019.

[Want to get automatic updates on ethel cofie’s blog post of Africa, technology, ecosystems and doing business in Africa sign up here ]

Both companies are in the luxury fashion, business or travel (cars and luggage). They are both famous and well-known for their high-quality craftsmanship.

That is why they partnered. BMW “offered” sports car models, while Louis Vuitton designed a set of suitcases and bags that fit int the car’s parcel shelf.


Starbucks and Spotify

Starbucks is an American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves founded in 1971. In the early 1980s, Howard Schultz converted it from a coffee bean store into a coffee shop selling espresso-based drinks.

Spotify is a Swedish audio streaming and media services provider founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. Daniel Ek, the CEO, was born an engineer but later he focused on IT.

Starbucks created a coffee shop experience with the help of music to create an ambience. They wanted to create a “music ecosystem” allowing artists to easily have access to Starbucks consumers, and vice versa, allowing Starbucks to have access to Spotify’s discography.

Important Elements of Successful Business Partnerships

Mutual Accountability

In a lot of partnerships, both teams are so excited about the upsides of doing business together that they miss the step of determining accountability, which they would take in their own organizations. There should be a discussion up front about where the accountability for results falls and what the consequences will be if goals aren’t met.

True Commitment

Partnerships fail because one party isn’t prepared to fully commit. From the beginning of the relationship, both sides need to be willing to commit — both financially and resource-wise. The success of one is tightly intertwined with the success of the other. This way, objectives will always stay aligned because both parties are equally committed to the partnership.

Focus on A Shared Goal

When companies or individuals partner to create new solutions, the only way things will stay on track is if both parties have a shared goal. If one party is only interested in serving a personal interest, then the joint effort will be one-sided. There must be a genuine mutual interest in seeing the creation thrive, and then the rest — communication, focus, and so on — will fall into place more naturally.

Clear, Measured Expectations

Setting expectations from the beginning is key. Being direct and outlining what the expected outcomes from the partnership for both parties will look like at the beginning of the project will help determine if the partnership will be successful. The key is defining what success looks like first and then working your way back from there.

Comparable Reputations

When you’re building a partnership, always aim to work with companies who offer the same level of service and quality reputation as yours. Having good communication and a trusting relationship is key for this to be successful.

Business partnerships have successfully helped build innovation in various fields when they have been done well and remain one of the surest ways to grow businesses into global brands.