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How to Find the Right Partnerships

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We just did something that some would say is crazy. We -- the company best known for making "worm poop" gardening products bottled in what were previously plastic soda bottles, and for turning billboards into messenger bags -- are creating products based on Huggies and Scott paper products from Kimberly-Clark.

Excuse me?

No, not used diapers and handy wipes, but the packaging that they came in. Oh. Yes. But you see where there might be a bit of a mental leap for people to buy products that are made from brands they associate with very unrecyclable things?

That is, until you look at what we're doing. In fact, what we're doing is tightly interlocked with the Kimberly-Clark brand. If we tried to use their stuff and make what we've made in the past (i.e. the gardening products we're known for), that just wouldn't have worked. Instead, we've directed all our energy into creating products that, as they say, don't fall far from the tree.

Case in point: We'll be making Huggies packaging into diaper bags and other baby/parenting-related products. A short step, not even a leap, for those who regularly use the brand. An organic extension of it, even.

As you can see, it's possible to do this with just about any brand. We're going to do it again with toothbrushes in the coming year.

Just think, how would what we create best make sense to the market that our partner has already established for themselves? But wait a minute here. Does it ever become dangerous to associate yourself with brands that don't target your core consumer? Or may outright alienate those who are your supporters and brand champions?

Turning the question on myself, I can say yes. Take NASCAR. Recently, they've been trying to put a green sheen on things, and wanted us to be a part of that. I'm sorry, can't go there. My aim for TerraCycle is to reach, deeply, into the mainstream of society, making sustainable choices an obvious, not an either/or proposition, or only for the most committed green individuals.

However, NASCAR going green is like driving a car with both feet all the way to the floor. They contradict one another, and cancel each other's progress out. I'm not one to tell people and businesses how they should conduct themselves, but any industry that is based on an activity that by its very nature amplifies waste, I can't play with.

What about you? Do you have a no-go zone when it comes to partnering and associating your brand? Is there a way you can reshape it that will work and for your customers to see it differently?

Last updated: Nov 19, 2009




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