COLLABORATION IS THE NEW COMPETITION

Partnerships. Co-Labs. Two names with a little ‘x’ between them. Whatever you choose to call them, you’re seeing collaboration everywhere.

Co-branded products and campaigns are being created by everyone from the smallest indie brands to the largest retailers. Brands, non-profits, artists, and big corporations are finding new ways to work together. Why?  Because it works.

Collaboration has become more than just another tactic to compete. It’s becoming the way we compete. We spoke with some of the outdoor industry’s leading collaborators to understand why they’re teaming up and what you can learn from them.

Linked Ring Photography photo courtesy Tentsile

Linked Ring Photography photo courtesy Tentsile

ALL PARTIES CONTRIBUTE, ALL PARTIES BENEFIT

Real partnerships create value for all parties involved and perhaps most importantly, for the consumer. A great example is Tree Tent manufacturer Tentsile’s collaboration with Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The partnership was developed in order to educate consumers on how to use Tree Tents and enjoy the Outdoors responsibly.  

“We created Tree Tents so that people could spend more time enjoying nature," says Kirstie Grego, Tentsile's Communications Coordinator. "After all, if we are all hanging out in the trees, they can’t be chopped down! We plant three trees for each tent we sell, because healthy sustainable forests are vital to combating climate change and conserving ecosystems, and we want to ensure that future generations can enjoy the great outdoors as much as we do. The World’s forests are decreasing at an alarming rate, and if we can do something about that, whilst educating consumers (…and having fun in the trees!) all at the same time, then we ought to do so.” 

@AndShesDopeToo photo courtesy Tentsile

@AndShesDopeToo photo courtesy Tentsile

To celebrate this new partnership, Tentsile are soon to launch their new ‘No Trace Kit’ – an accessory to use alongside Tree Tents which minimizes their impact. In doing so they hope to help spread Leave No Trace’s message to the public, and encourage the preservation of trees – a resource which all parties value. All stakeholders were invested, they all contributed using their strengths, and they all benefitted.

Now, how effective would it have been if Tentsile had instead just sponsored a tree?

BUILD ALLIANCES WITH COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERS

Forsake, creators of the all-weather Sneakerboot, sees working with other noncompetitive brands as a key marketing and customer acquisition tool. A recent collaboration with venerable outdoor brand Woolrich is a prime example of two partners benefitting from one another’s complementary strengths. One might not see the two brands as a natural fit; Forsake has all the trappings of a hip, modern startup: crowdfunding origin, progressive philosophy, avid social media presence. Meanwhile Woolrich is an American heritage brand that has been around since the civil war. Yet the collaboration leveraged each of their strengths to mutual benefit.

Photo courtesy Forsake

Photo courtesy Forsake

“Obviously, the biggest benefit for a small company like Forsake is exposure to a wide audience that likely hasn’t even heard of the brand before,” says Jack Knoll, Forsake’s Marketing Director. “For an established company like Woolrich, they get to tap into fresh trends that would be a tough departure from its central brand otherwise.”

BETTER CONTENT, BROADER REACH

Products’ co-labs aren’t the only place where collaboration wins. Many photographers, content creators, and social media influencers have mastered the art of collaboration. For example, if you’ve ever read a ski, mountain bike, or travel magazine, you’re seeing the result of well-executed collaborations.  A single video, photo essay, or article is likely the result of partnerships between publishers, tourism organizations, pro athletes, and content creators—an outcome no single party could have reached alone.

Photographer Liam Doran has become one of the outdoor industry’s premier photographers, with a vast body of work involving top brands, publications, and athletes. Building partnerships and working as a team is a big part of what has earned him this level of success.

Liam Doran hiking for photos. Photo: Casey Day

Liam Doran hiking for photos. Photo: Casey Day

“Without a doubt a strong team is critical to creating a great editorial piece,” Doran remarks. “For any given assignment you need the right people to play their roles whether it be writer, photographer, athlete or social media guru.  We also lean on tourism boards as well as brands and sponsors for material support.”

DON’T JUST COMPETE, COLLABORATE.

These examples demonstrate  how thoughtful partnerships and collaborations achieve a variety of business objectives. They can support a cause, build a new product, or create great content. Whatever your business, the fastest way to out-perform your competition may be to out-collaborate them.

- Animas Media

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