In recent months, a leading domain retailer of Gurgaon launched brands of whisky and wine in direct collaboration with manufacturers in Scotland and Chile. What customers eventually bought was the convergence of two sets of equities, a trusted local seller in cahoots with a reputed source of origin, in tandem creating a compelling value proposition. This is a fine example of Duet Brands, when two specialists converge to present a unique desired experience that unifies the strengths of the creators.
When Nike + was first created it was clearly the outcome of a collaboration with Apple, the customer experiencing a true orchestration of competencies, currently stretched to the Apple Watch as well. Over time, customers consider this union as a standalone event in its own right, drawing from parent values but occupying a unique slot in life. Quite like the collaboration between Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin, or the many East-West combinations, where the outcome is clearly derived from identifiable sources but unmatched on its own accord. This is different from the role played by a percussionist to a Sitar Maestro, comparable to the silent function of an OEM or a supplier, like Venky’s Chicken for KFC, where the collaborator is destined for a white label identity.
If imagined at length, the possibilities can be truly endless as quite suddenly a whole new set of convergent experiences open up unfazed by category restrictions. Saregama and Social opening a Duet Brand called SASO, whereby proprietary music tracks are played all day, live and recorded in an environment of easy familiarity. Spicejet and Oyorooms setting up an online brand called SpiceOyo to sell combination packages of hotels and rooms. Amazon to build bridges with Jiva Spa to create Homespa, the home fulfilment of premium ayurvedic treatment. PartyMakers, a unification of United Breweries, and Specialty Restaurants to provide unified entertainment experiences, drawing from food and beverage learnings for perfect pairings.
Such combinations can work equally well for more serious categories as well operating on the same principle of a unique identity based on potent sources. Taj Hotels and Fortis Hospitals combining hands to launch the Ce la Vie range of premium healthcare, designed for surgeries of a life-enhancing and not critical nature, where hospitality and hospitals converge. An inter-city bus service construed by Volvo and Go Air to combine soft and hard skills, for the latter connecting air stations with the smaller towns. Anokhi joining hands with Wizcraft for an 11-wedding management service called Jannat which effectively integrates design flair with management expertise. A range of health beverages conjured by the joint skills of Max Healthcare and Dabur, a Duet Brand that will combine taste buds with health spirits. Domino’s Pizza and Patanjali coming together for the HerbaSlice range of RTE pizzas, an inspired mix of opposite worlds.
What makes the world of Duet Brands so attractive is the possibility of credible and unique experiences that go way beyond the repertoire of individual entities. In an environment where customers are hungry for novelties, this will become a tangible area of growth through horizontal expansion, stretching the potential of existing strengths through collaboration. In terms of promotion and communication, the strategy clearly will be to directly extract the uniqueness of both to build a new value proposition. Like my earlier classical music jugalbandi example, the outcome must be viewed as a unique experience where the performance of the original creators is plainly visible for all to see.
Like every other innovation, Duet Brands will come to life only when board rooms are secure about direct collaboration, as a necessary strategy for the experience age. Currently, individual products are often unable to complete the desired experience which opens up the opportunity for this new genre of branding, the gestalt of two renowned individuals. For every success, due credit will certainly rest with both sources, making each much richer as a result. It is time for businesses to discover that duets can often make better music than solos.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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