It’s more than fun and games in Disney’s co-branding adventure

As reported in The New York Times, the Walt Disney Company and YouTube have recently announced a new strategic partnership. Disney Interactive Media and YouTube will spend a combined $10-$15 million on original video series to be produced by Disney and distributed on YouTube as well as a co-branded channel on Disney.com. The channel will also include amateur video taken from the torrent uploaded to YouTube each day.

This rather innocuous partnership can be seen as a big shift away from Disney’s typical “lone wolf” marketing strategy. In the past, the Walt Disney Company needed only to rely on its powerful images and welcoming, family-oriented presence to sell the brand to consumers across the globe. Now, however, Disney is conceding that its own brand is not powerful enough to attract and retain children looking for video online, which is why they have partnered with today’s online video titan, YouTube.

Disney is co-branding, or placing two or more brand names on a product or package. This is done when a combination of brand names enhances prestige or perceived value of a product or when it benefits brand owners and users. Co-branding is used to increase market share, reduce risk of new product introduction/brand extension and achieve global branding. In Disney’s case, the company is trying to utilize YouTube’s popularity to reach more children seeking online video content, thus increasing market share and extending the reach of the brand.

If Disney, one of the most successful and revered companies of our lifetime, is willing to try co-branding, there must be some worth to the particular marketing tool. And if any doubts of co-branding’s efficacy remain, the fact that YouTube, another huge success in its own right, is also willing to do so should erase those doubts. Simply put, co-branding works. And it can work for you too.

A quick look at these examples will reinforce this claim:

Betty Crocker + Hershey’s Chocolate


In a classic example, Betty Crocker, the queen of brand partnerships, teamed up with Hershey’s Chocolate and other food companies to create delicious and easy-to-make products.

Nike + Apple


Apple and Nike brought music and exercise together when they created the Sports Kit, which wirelessly syncs your iPod to your workout.

Southwest Airlines + SeaWorld


As the official airline of SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines has three “Shamu” planes in its fleet. From time to time passengers are even visited by penguins before take-off!

These success stories shouldn’t gloss over the difficulty of co-branding, though. Finding another brand with which your brand can positively and effectively align can be a task of the utmost difficulty. However, once you’ve done this, you too can reap the rewards of co-branding. You don’t have to be Apple, Disney, or Betty Crocker to successfully co-brand — you just have to find your brand’s perfect, value-adding match.