Two brands are better than one – when there’s a fair exchange of assets: Collabosaurus CEO


Collabosaurus founder Jessica Ruhfus with Law Squared founder Demetrio Zema

Amazing things can happen when brands ‘tie the knot’ but only if they pass the compatibility test, says Jessica Ruhfus, the founder and CEO of brand matchmaker Collabosaurus.

The marketing and PR professional spoke to Dynamic Business about the competitive advantage businesses can gain through brand collaborations with compatible partners and why it made sense for her ‘dating site for brands’ to team up with another Sydney start-up – Law Squared, a law firm for entrepreneurs.

“Successful Collaborations such as Redbull X GoPro, Uber X Spotify and Samantha Wills X Yellowglen sparked the idea Collabosaurus,” Ruhfus said. “When complementary brands connect, there is an opportunity for each party to leverage the others’ assets and – with little to no financial expenditure – double their marketing capability through cross-promotion. Since launching in April 2015, we’ve connected over 550 brands for collaboration projects. Our membership rate has grown consistently at 3.5% per month and we have 3000 users from around the world with profiles and collaborative project listing on our site.”

Survival tool

Ruhfus said brand collaborations not only play a critical role in the innovation process, they’ve become increasingly necessary for the survival of businesses.

“An SME or start-up might have the most amazing product in the world, but if it isn’t marketed properly and no one knows about it, what’s the point?” She said. “Gaining exposure with the right audience and engaging them with highly relevant messages can be tricky for businesses with limited resources.

“Brand collaborations allow smaller businesses to grow their network and deliver extremely cost-effective marketing without a budget, which helps them compete with larger competitors. Due to their agility, SMEs and start-ups can also quickly execute multiple collaborative marketing campaigns in a short time. Therefore, smaller brands have the advantage of being able to engage with new audiences in an authentic, creative way more often.”

Compatibility test

But how can start-ups and small businesses gauge whether a potential brand collaboration will result in synergy between the parties? According to Ruhfus, businesses must answer the following three questions in the affirmative when considering a brand partnership:

1. Do we share a similar audience?

“For cross-promotional efforts to be mutually beneficial, it’s essential for potential brand partners to serve a similar demographic. Collaborating with a complementary brand allows you to ‘tap into’ – or get in front of – their community. If your communities are vastly different, then your marketing message will not have the desired effect of engaging a relevant audience of potential customers.”

2. Do we have a complementary brand aesthetic/tone?

“Brands need to seriously consider how they will position themselves their collaborator’s audience. However, they also need to weigh up the impact of any cross-promotional effort on their existing audience – if a business compromises on brand aesthetic too much, the risk is the brand will be become unrecognisable to the existing audience, particularly on social media. When there is a complementary brand aesthetic and tone, this helps both parties to immediately establish a recognisable brand presence with a new audience. It also means the collaborators hold true to – and can champion – their unique aesthetic and tone, which helps spark engagement in the brand collaboration.”

3. Will there be a fair exchange of assets?

“It’s not acceptable for a business to agree to feature a photographer’s logo in the footer of their website in exchange for a free four-hour event shot. This is not a fair exchange of assets between brand collaborators.  Both parties need to consider the value of their assets (e.g. their email list, social presence, event influence, publicity pull and skill set) and arrange a fair exchange that suits both party’s marketing goals. As each collaboration will be different, each exchange and its values are going to be also. We highlight the ‘give + get’ of a fair asset exchange before a connection is made on our platform. It’s important for both parties to be aware of the likely marketing outcomes of their brand collaboration, quantified in terms of time, exposure and skill set.”

A perfect match

Collabosaurus recently established a brand partnership with Law Squared. According to Ruhfus, it has been mutually beneficial – and will continue into the future – for reasons including the fair exchange of assets between and a common audience.

She explained, “Law Squared were seeking relevant marketing exposure with the start-up and small business sector. Meanwhile, Collabosaurus was seeking a law partner to co-brand and co-produce contract templates that would safeguard against a situation where one brand takes advantage of another – we’d received feedback from small businesses that a key pain point in brand collaborations is when the other party doesn’t follow through with a promise. We wanted to reduce the chances of a brand collaboration turning sour or becoming an unfair exchange.”

“We could offer Law Squared exposure to over 28,000 entrepreneurs – their desired demographic – through joint promotional events in Sydney and Melbourne as well as ongoing social media and EDM support. In return, Law squared could offer us the time and legal expertise necessary to co-create CollaboHub – a suite of legal agreement and contract templates to support smaller brands to negotiate with their dream collaborator and play a bigger game, particularly when dealing with large businesses that have a legal budget. The response has been amazing and we’ve continued our relationship with Law Squared too, which is a bonus.”