If businesses can use co-branding to their benefit, so can communities.

Recently the Overton Park Conservancy unveiled a new public dog park (aptly named Overton Bark) in Midtown Memphis’s largest green space. Funding for the 1.3-acre dog run was provided in part by regional pet care retailer Hollywood Feed. In exchange for in-park signage, Hollywood Feed paid for construction. The company also continues to provide doggy cleanup bags in a kiosk onsite.

For both partners, the strategy worked because:

  1. They knew their customers
  2. They chose partners wisely
  3. They executed it gracefully

For the Overton Park Conservancy, the strategy produced needed funding. Additionally, it aligned the uniquely Memphis amenity with a company whose brand is thought of as local when compared to other pet supply companies and potential co-branding partners.

It’s a great fit for Hollywood Feed as well. This public-private sponsorship agreement not only helps align Hollywood Feed with the needs of its core customers (pet owners in the area), it also helps create goodwill for the company among its target audience and the wider community. Plus, as a company that values community engagement, this was a natural reflection of that value coming to life

When a corporation gives back, it creates a natural goodwill to the communities it serves, which can mean more loyalty from customers. For a local or regional enterprise, the company also aligns itself to the city or region it calls home. For some customers, that matters.

If we can create this type of strategic partnership for the parks our pets play in, why can’t we extend it further? We’ll look at other examples and opportunities for Memphis in coming blogs.

There’s a recent New York Daily News article about the Citi Bike program in NYC. Brooklyn and Manhattanites alike will be able to rent a bike at one of multiple locations around the city. Citi Bank is paying a whopping $41 million for “sponsorship” rights to the bikes – meaning their logo will be on both the bikes and the rental kiosks. MasterCard is chipping in another $6.5 million for logo and signage rights.

We predict that over the next decade, cities will aggressively begin to look at this type of co-branding or co-sponsoring opportunities to help offset costs of public amenities. Why?

  1. The need is there, as budgetary constraints force government organizations to cut back or make hard choices.
  2. The demand is there and may be growing: To some extent (how much is up for debate, and we’ll examine that in later posts), consumers may factor in the following when choosing a product or service:

– whether a business has some sort of goodwill as a part of its mission

– whether a business is local or at least “of the community”

The more these factors impact business, the more corporations will find ways to visibly associate their brands with these traits.

While there’s a “slippery slope” argument to be made against plastering corporate logos on every public space, the model has had success in some public entities. There will be potential for controversy and it can be complicated to execute, but if we can find ways to do this gracefully and strategically at the local level, as Hollywood Feed and Overton Bark did, we can build savvier, more successful businesses while also improving the community in which we live.

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