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Co-branding can build strong partnerships, with careful brand stewardship

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

Extending your global reach is a good thing but it also creates many moving pieces. Audrey Trevino, Global Branding Manager at MD Anderson Cancer Center, talks about how branding has positively affected their partnerships worldwide.

Robin: Hello and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, VP of Strategy at Savage Brands and my guest again is Audrey Trevino, Global Branding Manager at MD Anderson Cancer Center. So Audrey, welcome back to Brandonomics.

Audrey: Thank you for having me.

Robin: I’m glad that you’re here I mean in addition to being on this show I saw you speak at a recent American Marketing Association event and the topic was great; you talked about how you’re extending the global reach for MD Anderson through these partnerships.

Audrey: Yes.

Robin: But the way these were kind of manifesting was through this idea of kind of co-branding, so as a marketer I’m like, well, how did you really balance that idea of co-branding while keeping the two individual brands strong?

Audrey: So many parallel work streams including brand architecture work in house, lots of strategy work and positioning to make sure that we knew what the universe looked like ourselves. While these relationships then were being formed we were fortunate enough in most cases to be at that table to have those discussions early. And so building things like the mini architecture, right, which is not so mini but essentially it’s the external architecture – what do you do when you strike relationships with an outside party, what are the implications beyond just what are the colors and lines and messaging references look like, what does the business impact look like, what level of integration do we have across these different types of relationships?

For that then it was easy to build sort of what that blueprint would look like from the architecture standpoint and, you know, I won’t lie, it’s challenging; you can’t just build it and expect everyone to follow. Obviously – I often site – I use the phrase that people are bubbling over with enthusiasm; when you co-brand it’s something new, you’re bringing each other’s names to the table together in some way and most often people are just guilty of having an abundance of enthusiasm. And so our job is not only to be stewards of the brand, but really I see it much more as educators of the brand; what is the why before you tell them what the what is. And I won’t say it’s a cakewalk or anything, I think that it does take work, it does take a lot of program management that I think usually isn’t seen that much; it’s all behind the scenes work.

Robin: Right and actually the second part of this is after that excitement and the framework is set and the blue print is set, program management is – that’s the discipline to keep things on track.

Audrey: It is.

Robin: So what did that look like day to day?

Audrey: So from a day to day standpoint the rule of thumb is any time our relationship affiliates uses our name or mention, anything – nay materials, internal or external – they run that through us. And so we want to make sure that we understand dhow our name is going to be used, what the context surrounding it is and when it will be used and make sure that we have a system in place to be able to handle that volume because it’s only increasing.

Robin: Okay, so setting the foundation is important, but then having that discipline and the processes to follow is important as well.

Audrey: That’s right.

Robin: Well good, well thank you. Hopefully other marketers will follow that lead.

Audrey: I hope so, appreciate it.

Robin: Well this has been another edition of Brandonomics, and inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


MD Anderson Cancer Center has a mission to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world through outstanding programs that integrate patient care, research and prevention, and through education for undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, professionals, employees and the public.

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