Andrew Davis, while speaking at Content Marketing World, used the phrase “harnessing the power of participation creation” to describe leveraging someone else’s audience to bolster your own brand (thank you Arjun Basu of Sparksheet for your coverage of the event). Davis then used Tony Bennett, whose career was going down the drain, and his duet with the Muppets as an example. The Muppets, a very positive brand, lent some branding juice to Bennett by performing with him. That juice helped revive Bennett’s career.

This is the exact reason that advertisers seek well-known faces, such as athletes and movie stars, to star in commercials. When we see an entity that we trust/like/admire/emulate endorsing someone else, we have a tendency to extend that credibility.

Barnes & Noble secured a crucial brand partner

Books and coffee just seem to go together. And when I say coffee, you say Starbucks. By aligning the B&N brand with Starbucks’ brand, B&N was able to not only drive extra foot-traffic to its stores, but it could piggyback on all those warm, good feelings that many coffee drinkers associate with Starbucks. Borders knew as much. Mark Evans, former executive at Borders, wrote on February 17, 2011:

“…Barnes & Noble secured the exclusive U.S. Starbucks partnership, a major branding and traffic-driving win for them.”

This reminds me in part of Jim Collins talking about “facing the brutal facts” in Good to Great. Companies need to identify and admit their weaknesses. With your weaknesses out in the open, you can better plan how to capitalize on your strengths. And that plan will at times involve partnering with another company or brand.

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On the flip side, it’s great to be the brand that everyone else wants to partner with or leverage. Maybe I could sing a duet with Barry Manilow.