Brand Tie-Up: An Under-Utilised Innovation Strategy

While I was doing a bit of DIY over the weekend I spotted a great new service innovation from B&Q. Conveniently, you can now hire a van straight from B&Q’s car park to lug all of your over-sized purchases home or to site.

What’s the customer need?

To excel at customer satisfaction, brands have to support their customers once they’ve made their purchase and leave the shop. B&Q appear to have picked up on a great customer irritation… struggling to get all their purchases into their cars and safely home. This kind of annoyance is the perfect basis for a good innovation idea.

Why it’s a logical brand stretch?

B&Q hire tools and machinery, so it’s not a massive leap for them to start hiring vans. It’s also not totally at odds with the D.I.Y proposition as these are ‘self-drive’ vans to hire.

Yet B&Q have very smartly partnered with Hertz to provide the service rather than provide a fleet of self drive vans for hire…

Why wouldn’t they just solus brand their vans as B&Q?

1. No core competency in transport

B&Q source, manufacture and sell D.I.Y. products and services – not transport. The complexity (time, cost, logistics) of managing a vehicle fleet was perhaps deemed by B&Q to be too much of a distraction from their core business of D.I.Y. Poorly executed, this could be a disaster for B&Q’s reputation if customers were constantly breaking down on the side of the road, for example.

2. Lack of brand credibility in transport

Would customers trust B&Q to provide safe and reliable vans? Do they have expertise and credibility in vehicle hire? Customers perhaps need some reassurance that there is a trusted brand behind the service.

Is there a winning partnership just around the corner for your brand?

Brand tie-ups are a very efficient way to stretch a brand into new areas where the core competency or brand credibility doesn’t currently exist. Yet there tends to be a general avoidance of brand tie-ups to innovate. Usually this is due to a flawed argument around higher margin. Instead a better viewpoint to take is a lower margin attached to high volume is much preferable to high margin with no sales due to lack of credibility!

win-win jigsaw pieces

This got the team thinking, which other brands could benefit from a partnership to stretch their brands into new areas? What about Vanish using its stain removal credentials in conjunction with a toothpaste brand to deliver superior whitening? Or Alpro partnering with Kenco and borrowing its coffee credentials to make a ready to drink soya coffee?

Just think where your brand could possibly stretch if you employed the brand tie-up innovation strategy…