Collaborations Journal

A collaborations insight article about the future of collaborations within the creative industry

Collaborations - Insight

‘A purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to achieve shared or overlapping objectives.’ That is the dictionary definition of a collaboration, although it can bring about concomitant effects.

Some people perceive collaborations as merely a fad, something that customers and brands will grow out of, in a similar fashion to how people perceived the pop-up culture. However, both of these ‘new ways’ of conducting business show no sign of disappearing, with pop-ups and collaborations becoming more apparent and embedded in our daily lives.

To collaborate offers many, and previously unachievable angles and advantages to that of undertaking a venture independently; including spreading risk, appealing to a larger audience and providing authenticity for a brand.

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Sharing the risk

Undertaking any project, whether it is physical space, a new product or even an event incurs a degree of risk, most prominently a financial risk with fixed and variable costs needing to be considered and met. With a collaboration these pressures can be shared amongst the other parties helping to minimise that exposure and often achieve unattainable results. The risk is not just financial either, it also takes the form of the brand’s reputation if things were to go wrong as the consequences can be managed between all of the parties with a multifaceted approach.

A larger sphere of influence  

A collaboration helps to draw upon a number of different customer bases which would otherwise be costly, both financially and in time, to market towards. This new market may have not previously been considered with the brand having an original target market devised from their own strategy. This increased network and database can then be later targeted through established communication channels if the collaboration was a success.

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Customers are now more acute to brands, wanting to know about who they are and why they exist and more sceptical of stories that many companies may have previously spun to gain instant credibility.

Collaborating with brands with aligned values and objectives helps to provide authenticity to the not just the customer but also to the industry and their competitors. The larger party demonstrates that they understand and are akin to the emerging brands in their industry, and the smaller brand gains notability and acceptance in an often over saturated market.


When a brand is doing-what-they-do the focus tends to be on the areas that concern the company, and the wider picture of the industry or trends can become overlooked. This silo working can lead to the company becoming blinkered; however, with a collaboration the other parties can add insight and a new perspective that may have been unconsidered previously.

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Collaborations show no sign of diminishing with streetwear brands announcing new collaborations on an almost daily basis; however, brands now need to have meaningful collaborations that not only benefit each other, but also benefit the customer, especially in a time when the customer is becoming increasingly savvy.  

The idea itself is also being amplified with 3 or 4 brands now forming a collaboration with a similar aesthetic, coming together to create a lifestyle for the customer. This trend is not just limited to fashion and retail, chefs are working with bars to create a collaborative menu, and the music industry continues to release songs featuring and having been worked on by multiple artists.

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Selecting the right brands for a collaboration will also become a skillset. Brands want to be aligned to similar brands, although not be in direct competition, they also want to take advantage of the unique aspects that the other parties bring to the table but not seen by the customer to be collaborating solely for that reason. To create this each of the senses needs to be addressed to not only help to drive sales but create a lifestyle; perhaps the ‘perfect collaboration’ will create a multi-sensory experience with each of the senses have been addressed.  For example, there will be a tangible product on display, a perfumery company to evoke smell emotions, an artist will provide a soundtrack to compliment the brands and customers will be treated to food and drink, with all of this being incorporated into a considered designed space.

The future of collaborations, like everything, will adapt to customer demands and industry trends, but customers will also be taken in to the subliminal partnering of brands to create a lifestyle and ‘hyper brand’ – which we are starting to see in the technology industry.

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