Remember high school, when you became friends with one person and suddenly had another friend or two because of them? It was our early exposure to “related loyalty,” where you loved one thing, and gained another.

Loyalty has entered a new realm, with brands joining forces to get your attention. We called it out in 2014 as “brand amalgamation,” and later began calling it “borrowed equity.” Back then, our evidence talked about:

• Evian, Collette, and Spider-Man teaming up for a cross-branding effort around Evian
• Disney pulling Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm/Star Wars under its banner to appeal to a broader audience
• Marriot launching a dual branded hotel in Midtown Manhattan

Now we’re watching Shake Shack & Allbirds collaborate on a limited edition sneaker that you could only buy for one day, for a mere $100, and only at Shake Shack’s Madison Square Park location. The Tree Runner model features the Shake Shack burger logo and comes in white and Shake Shack green.

We’re watching as Dunkin’ Donuts goes way beyond its core product in a limited partnership with Lyft, the rideshare company. Again in a one-day promotion, for National Donut Day, they offered free Lyft rides to people who wanted to come get their free donut (and, presumably, a dozen or so more!).

These types of promotions bring visibility to two different companies, presumably growing the audience for both. It’s growing so much, in fact, that we’ve included it in our CultureWaves Quarterly Report for the close of Q1-2018. In that report, we say:

“As brands begin to explore and innovate outside of their category, they are
leveraging their brand equity (and, potentially, a partner’s brand equity) as
something familiar and recognizable. This creates an audience outside of their
usual category and leverages consumer use of their product in a new category.”

Additional evidence includes:

• Google adds “Where’s Waldo” to Google Maps for a week, prompting users to play the classic puzzle online through their browser
Taco Bell launches chips inspired by the flavors of its sauce packets in grocery stores
• Amazon’s Prime Rewards Signature credit card reportedly will give users 5 percent back on Whole Foods purchases as well as on Amazon purchases.
• Budweiser and Jim Beam pair up to create Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager, a bourbon and beer combination.

So, call it borrowed equity or call it inherent loyalty or just call it a smart business move—it’s something that, now that we’ve pointed it out, you’ll start to see everywhere. And, if it makes sense for your business, just remember you heard it here first.

In 2014.

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