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Become a Master of Co-Branding with Tips from Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars

I adore Chuck Taylor All Stars like rappers adore saying their own name. I love the look, the versatility, and the fact that they collaborate with tons of other brands to create awesome, limited edition sneakers.

In fact, with the variety of co-branded Chucks that Converse releases. I’m going to make the claim that they are the masters of co-branding.

Co-branding can be tricky, but following these tips gleaned from the popular footwear will help you on the right path to co-branding success!

Pick Up on Current Trends

old time fish net skirt

"Fish net skirts are so in right now...right?"

When something becomes popular, the general population can’t seem to get enough. (How else can you explain 7,000+ results for “Call Me Maybe” parodies on YouTube?)

One of the hottest designers right now is Missoni. Known for their use of zigzag stripes and color, they’ve taken the fashion world by storm. Missoni recently paired up with Target in a move so popular that it crashed Target’s website for hours and sold out in stores within minutes.

Converse jumped on that gravy train early by coming out with a line of Missoni Chucks in 2009. They did so well that the brands continue to collaborate and offer new options twice per year.

Follow these footsteps by…

…thinking locally. Is there a bakery in town that’s getting a lot of buzz recently? Approach the owner and see if you can team up on dog treats, special-scented soap, or whatever your business sells.

Make sure that both brands advertise for each other for added foot traffic to both businesses. The bakery could use the scented soap in their bathroom or the pet store could offer bite-sized “people treats.”

Figure Out What Else Your Audience Likes

Brand loves come in groups, even if the services are unrelated. Think of a typical hipster: they love their mainstream iPhones, but also independent coffee houses. College students love cheap pizza, but will splurge on caramel macchiatos from Starbucks.

Chuck Taylor All Stars have become a standard clothing item in both music and geek culture; just go to a non-country concert or comic book convention and take a look around.

green lantern chuck taylor all star

"In brightest day, in blackest night, these Chucks shall not escape my sight..."

This is one of the reasons why Converse has teamed up with musicians for their ongoing “Three Artists. One Song.” promotion. They enlist three musicians to pen and record a song that the shoe brand distributes for free. Recently, when the band Gorillaz was one of the three artists, Converse also came out with a line of Gorillaz-branded shoes.

And why have legions of fans wear solid color Chucks to conventions when they can wear their favorite superhero? In a stroke of co-branding genius, they partnered with DC Comics to sell All Stars with Superman, Batman, and their assorted friends and villains.

Follow these footsteps by…

…doing a little research with your clients to see what other kinds of stores they frequent. Offer a coupon if they take the time to fill out a survey in-store or online via Survey Monkey.

With this information, you’ll know which local businesses to reach out to for co-branding; and at the very least, you can have a better idea of your customers’ preferences.

Seek Out Complementary Brands

But sometimes, your customers won’t even know what kinds of co-branding they’d like to see.

happy couple

"You're the jam to my bread -- literally!"

If someone had asked me if I wanted to buy Chuck Taylors featuring the bright prints of Finnish textile company Marimekko, I would have politely offered them a cough drop. But when the co-branding was announced, nobody could deny that the bold colors and unique prints looked right at home on Converse shoes.

They must be selling well, because there have been multiple releases of Marimekko Converse.

Follow these footsteps by…

…collaborating with a brand that seems surprising to your audience but share the same values or attraction of your own company. Your customers will wonder where this magical team-up has been all their lives. For example, a dance studio could partner up with a local clothing or accessories boutique, or a real estate agent could host an art showing as part of her open house.

But really, what’s in it for me?

  • Opens up your product offering
  • Nabs more exposure and sales
  • Starts great working relationships with other businesses and brands

Co-branding isn’t for everyone. But brands that team up to create and sell niche products can both benefit immensely from their combined fan bases.

Have you seen or purchased any of the co-branded Converse? Are you a fan of other co-branding initiatives? What brands would you like to see collaborate on a product?

IMAGE CREDIT TO LIMITE~INCREIBLE, MANDY KILINSKIS, AND CLIPART.COM.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Eric

    Honestly, one of my favorite collaborations Converse has done was with John Varvatos, allowing a fashion designer of name to come in, give his own spin on the iconic shoe, and create a really interesting hybrid. To that degree, the shoe’s practically a chameleon, changing color and style with whomever designs it.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I just checked that line out, and I can’t say that I’m surprised those are your favorite. They’re definitely a reinvention of the classic sneaker, but they also look like they’ve been around forever — a timeless style, if you will.

      Definitely an excellent co-branding design to appeal to extra-fashionable guys!

  2. Kelsey

    I love this collaboration. I clicked on the link that you provided, and every single pair of shoes that flashed by in the slideshow made me super excited. I want every pair! I feel like this shoe can pretty much pull off any design, it’s no wonder you have over 40 pairs. hahaha

    These are great tips Mandy! Great post. :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Right? They really need to stop making such great designs so I can stop dropping my money on them. But I guess that’s how they get you. “How do we get the girl who owns 45 pairs to spring for pair 46? Offer more cool designs that she didn’t know she needed.”

      Sigh.

      Thanks for the comment, Kelsey. :)

  3. Jenna Markowski

    Excellent post, Mandy! I’m a fan of converse, but I’ve always been more of a Vans girl, myself. However, Converse has been reeling me in with their 3 Artists 1 Song campaigns, and I am a huge fan of those Marimekko chucks! Gimme!

    I totally agree that Converse has co-branding down pat. The point you make about offering your customers co-branding they didn’t even know they wanted rings especially true. Ie, Six Flags is awesome. Slurpees are awesome. I never knew I wanted the two to co-brand, but thankfully they put two and two together themselves! Best ever! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Vans are pretty read, and they’ve also had some great collaborations. In fact, it seems like the majority of sneaker brands know how to co-brand well.

      And the collaboration between Slurpees and Six Flags is definitely cool. But you’re right, I would’ve never thought that I wanted that!

  4. amy

    As a recent buyer of Chuck’s, I love them! I bought navy blue ones that will match about 85% of my wardrobe (pretty sure brown ones would’ve matched 95%, but it’s only a matter of time before I buy those, haha). Random insight into my purchase habits there, sorry.

    I feel like a lot of brands should team up a lot more often than they do. Of course, I can’t think of any off the top of my head at this moment, but I’ll be sure to share them with you when I do ;)

    Awesome post here, I totally agree with all your points 100%!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Yay, recent buyer of Chucks! Welcome to the club!

      I feel like Cinnabon and Stacy’s Pita Chips should team up. Or Cinnabon and Dairy Queen. Basically Cinnabon and anyone. Cinnabon is delicious.

      • amy

        “Cinnabon is delicious”. Agreed.

  5. Bret Bonnet

    With all this Chuck Taylor All Stars love, Converse should be sponsoring this blog! :)

  6. Rachel

    I didn’t know most of these Converse styles existed! They all look pretty sweet. It seems that Converse and other similar-looking sneakers are becoming as customizable as graphic T-shirts — put anything geeky, niche, etc. on them and people will buy. With so many styles to choose from, I may just branch out and get a fancy pair to go with my plain black ones. :)

    I also love your practical tips for emulating Converse’s co-branding. Awesome post, Mandy!

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