August 10, 2018

Stop, Collaborate & Listen…

Vanilla Ice may have been over-egging his particular pudding by letting us know in no uncertain terms he rocks the mic like a vandal and he cooks MCs like a pound of bacon. Are any of those things even possible?

Also, the Ford Mustang 5.0 he refers to actually had a 4.9-litre engine so he’s hardly a chap we can trust as the voice of the people, however in between chatting absolute pony he gave us some fine advice.

He told us to ‘stop, collaborate and listen…’

Sometimes, the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Is This A Cliché That’s Actually True?


Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple and although they didn’t work together for very long, their legacy is the first $1 trillion company. They were good friends, they shared an interest in the formative years of the personal computer and they both had something to different yet useful to contribute.

Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield took an ice-cream making course at school which cost them $5. They were friends and when they decided to set up an ice-cream business, they shared the financial risk equally because it was the fair thing to do. Their wonderfully-tasty, socially conscious ice-cream business was sold for something like £300 million.

Coco Chanel & Pierre Wertheimer were not equal partners, despite few knowing his name and most knowing hers. In fact, financier Wertheimer owned 90% of the business and by partnering with him is such a strategic way, fashion’s First Lady maintained creative control, she leveraged her partner’s business and financial acumen and she got exceptionally wealthy. Aside from the high-end car marques, there are very few businesses as successful now as they were just after the First World War.

There are plenty of other examples – Bill Hewlett and David Packard did OK, as did Karl Benz and Gottleib Daimler. Evan Williams and Biz Stone came together to create Twitter and who can forget Sergey Brin and Larry Page at Google.

What About When Businesses Do It?

With hindsight, it was obvious that these personal collaborations were eventually going to happen but what about the not-so-obvious collaborations between seemingly disparate businesses?

Call it what you want (or what the marketing gurus call it) – co-branding, strategic partnerships, business collaborations or even simply a sweet deal, it allows, according to Jeff Lotman, CEO of Global Icons, ‘established brands to reach new markets, gain greater distribution and dovetail on their partner’s previously established momentum.’ Otherwise known as ‘milking the cash cow’ or ‘making hay while the sun shines.’

It’s also a way to overcome a specific business challenge. The excellently-named Bob Mudge, President of Consumer & Mass Business at American phone company Verizon writing for agrees; ‘Today’s fast-paced marketplace requires mutually beneficial partnerships to leverage creativity, experience and resources, with right- and left-brain thinkers, that can help you arrive at a solution in less time.’

It’s a dilemma that has faced business leaders for decades – build or buy. Do you spend God-knows-how-much on product development, R&D, staff, kit and two years of stress or do you, according to Bob Mudge, ‘find a better and more efficient way to achieve your goal–because after all, speed is king in highly competitive markets.’

By plumping for option B, businesses can pool resources and innovate far quicker as well as pre-empt and develop solutions to issues that may not have even manifested themselves yet.

Innovative business collaborations have been around for years. Sometimes they’re mutually-beneficial marketing campaigns with a limited shelf-life, other times they’re long-term alliances…

Bonne Belle & Dr Pepper
This was one of the first brand collaborations and somehow, it worked. Bonne Belle made Lip Smacker, the lip balm of choice for America’s teenage girls and in 1975 the partnered with Dr Pepper and they loved it, even though the adverts were, by our standards, exceptionally twee!

From Dr Pepper: ‘It’s the super shiny lip gloss with lip-smacking flavor… just like the world’s most original soft drink.’ From Bonne Belle: ‘The cosmetics company that understands your taste.’

Uber & Spotify
The two tech disrupters came together for a campaign called ‘Soundtrack for Your Ride’ and the app enabled users to connect with Spotify to create a playlist for their journey. A great example of clarity of message – we both want more users and this is how we’re going to do it.

BMW & Louis Vuitton
On the surface, you can see how two companies of this nature would end up together. Louis Vuitton specialise in travel luggage, BMW make cars that, well, travel. LV designed a bespoke four-piece luggage set that sat perfectly into the parcel shelf of the brand new hybrid BMW i8 (and cost £15,000) but if you’re shelling out £115,000 for the car… Luxury car marque seeks luxury lifestyle brand for mutual benefits…

Mastercard & Apple
The old meets the new in a co-branding partnership that wasn’t just about the instant gratification of a short-term marketing campaign, it has revolutionised the way we pay for our stuff. The app allows you to store your card details on your phone but in order for the app to succeed, Apple needed credit card companies to integrate with the tech and Mastercard got first mover advantage.

Not only did they get into bed with the world’s biggest tech firm at the height of their powers, they evolved themselves and their customer base in how they choose to transact.

Those among us who may not be able to see the bigger picture could be forgiven for thinking that cooperation and collaboration with other companies in your own industry is seen as counter-intuitive to competitiveness but it isn’t, for the reasons we say it isn’t (and plenty more).

The fact is that in the ultra-competitive, lightning-fast world of business we’re in, collaboration is no longer a theoretical strategy to consider. It can be (and often is) the key driver to business success and competitiveness, especially where growth is concerned and, leaving the last word to Bob Mudge, ‘businesses that realize this sooner rather than later will be the ones who win the game and succeed in the new global economy.’

Catch you soon.

The Liquid Team