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Strategic thinking

Brandwave’s collaboration workshop at the OIA conference.

By 16/04/2015July 7th, 2023No Comments

The Facilitation of Collaboration

Brandwave’s MD, Dan, takes a few moments to reflect on the success of our recent brand collaboration workshop at the Outdoor Industries Association conference at Lake Windermere…

A few weeks ago, we were asked to run an industry leaders’ workshop at the 2015 Outdoor Industries Association conference at Lake Windermere. In our humble opinion, the OIA conference stands head and shoulders above most other industry association conferences, both in terms of the quality of its attendees and speakers, and the level of organisation and diversity of activities present, so it was a great honour to be asked to present.

The OIA initially told us to expect up to twenty workshop attendees, so we were a little surprised when they got in touch to let us know that over one hundred participants had pre-booked onto our event.

The title of our workshop was ‘Collaboration – the secret to successful brand partnerships’. Brand collaboration is a subject that is very close to our hearts, we have firmly nailed our colours to the mast on this one with regards to encouraging more of it within the wider sports industry.

The subject matter was something that we have helped to facilitate between friends and clients over the years, and was in no small part inspired by our NetworkB event in London last year.

NetworkB 2014

There is no question that brand collaboration is one of the hottest topics in marketing at the moment, so I have little doubt that this had a lot to do with the popularity of our workshop.

With just an hour and a half slot and the pressure firmly on, we were intent on putting together a really interactive session that not only helped to define collaboration in all of its forms, but also helped the brands present to establish their own collaborations both inside and outside the outdoors industry.

To achieve this, we decided to divide our workshop into four key sections:

  1. Understanding collaboration
  2. Finding the right partner
  3. Making it work
  4. Measuring return on investment

1. Understanding Collaboration

One of the things that we often notice at Brandwave is that different clients often have very different interpretations of what collaboration actually means. It is often confused with sponsorship or a more traditional linear supplier / customer relationship. Real collaboration is all about two parties coming together to create something new. During this session we looked at collaboration in all of its guises, from product through to service, event, content and research. We also looked at cross-sector collaborations involving partnerships between; musicians, governments, governing bodies, athletes, services, and retailers.

2. Finding the Right Partner

Finding the right partner is a lot like dating; it won’t happen if you don’t put yourself out there. If you don’t set some parameters at the outset, you might not like whom you find yourself in bed with. During this session, we looked at the many ways that successful brands go about finding new partners for collaboration.

We also focused on how important it is to understand your own brand ethos, or, ‘why’, and why it’s important to target brands that match your own brand ethos. One of the standout moments of this session was when the participants divided into groups and had to pitch their collaboration idea to an imaginary brand based on a specific brief. This really highlighted the diverse thinking within the room and the genuine possibilities available to the outdoors industry in terms of collaborating in the future.

3. Making it Work

Successful collaboration projects are highly beneficial to all parties involved, but many fail for a broad variety of reasons. During this session, we looked at the collaboration lifecycle from identifying a partner, building rapport and setting direction to progression, winding up and moving on.

We also looked at how day-to-day communication should be managed in order to prevent small problems from becoming big ones, and the use of an agile approach to cross-brand project management.

4. Measuring Return on Investment

2015 has been labelled by many as ‘the year of data’ for marketing. However, industry figures looking at return on investment for collaborations are worryingly scarce. In this session, we investigated the many quantitative and qualitative strategies for measuring return on investment. We also looked at other internal and external factors that can influence return on investment in collaborative projects.

To sum up

The OIA conference was a unique opportunity for us to help facilitate collaborative projects within the outdoors industry. With much government focus on collaborative projects within the sports and tourism industries, it has never made more sense to start looking for potential partners for new projects. If 2015 is the year of data; maybe 2016 will be ‘the year of collaboration’.

“Loved the collaboration workshop today”

Rachel Brine
Marketing Manager | Lowe Alpine


“Just wanted to say a special thank you for making the collaboration workshop so interactive and fun. Today’s workshop reinforced my belief in the ‘why’!!”

Nathalie Snowden | Marketing Manager UK & Ireland | Columbia


“Really enjoyed the collaboration workshop. Very thought provoking!”

Tim Oliver | Head Of Recreation & Public Affairs | The Forestry Commission


“The collaboration workshop was fantastic! Lots of positive feedback”

Andrew Denton | Chief Executive | Outdoor Industries Association

If you would like to speak to Brandwave about strategic marketing consultancy, or helping your brand with collaboration, please email: [email protected]


To learn more about the Outdoor Industries Association, click here.

Daniel Macaulay