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Brand Collaboration – Is It Good For Your Brand?


On July 29th Brooks Brothers and Levi’s announced a collaboration of  the “clothes that built America.” They go on to say that, “No two brands have done more to outfit the men that built America than Brooks Brothers and Levi’s. Uniquely and authentically American Brooks Brothers suits have been staples of American menswear through world wars and civil wars, booms and busts, and the ongoing transformation and redefinition of the American frontier.” All that’s missing from this statement are references to God, Mom and apple pie!

These are two venerable brands – no doubt. However I certainly don’t see them as a logical collaboration.

The railroads were icons of building America and taming the west. The nattily attired guys shaking hands in the center of this photo probably never considered wearing jeans while the guys climbing all over the steam engines, celebrating a job well done, could never afford a Brooks Brothers suit.

My dad was a Brooks Brothers guy. He sported a two or three button suit with a natural grace. He was decidedly not a jeans guy. Would he buy jeans if they could be purchased at Brooks Brothers? No!

I’m left wondering which brand benefits most from this collaboration. Brooks Brothers benefits from the “relevance” of jeans. Levi’s? Well…Brooks Brothers is highly recognized brand – at least among a small group of consumers. It did not place in “The Best Retail Brands of 2009” where Interbrand, an brand consultancy, identified the 50 top brands in the USA.

I’m thinking that neither Brooks Brothers nor Levi’s will find this relationship desirable within the year.

If you’re looking for a brand to collaborate with your brand – think like your customer. What do they want to see? What makes sense to them? What brings more value to your customers via your brand? If you can’t answer those questions but still want to sell jeans – sell them under your own brand. Don’t confuse your brand message (and your customer) by your own lack of brand conviction.

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