Real Value in Real-World Partnerships

How brands are building authentic connections that yield tangible outcomes

Real Value in Real-World Partnerships

In our last article on sponsorships How Partnerships Strengthen Your Brand, we addressed how well-aligned partnerships help brands develop and deepen relationships with consumers and communities.

When done right, partnerships empower brands, generating more brand awareness. The best sponsorships go further by connecting business objectives and brand positioning in a measurable way to move the needle for brands. In this installment, we’re taking a closer look at several thriving partnerships and the value they deliver for their brands. 

For many brands, sponsorships exist almost exclusively for the value of publicity. It’s easy to understand the allure of media and the impressions partnerships can generate. But media coverage evaporates into the ether after big events. Brands that dig deeper for an authentic link – not only to the brand but the business at large – uncover more enduring power. Successful partnerships incorporate three essential values: a balance of authenticity between brands, value to the consumer and connection to business strategy. Beyond publicity, these partnerships are creating meaningful and memorable moments.  

Hiway Credit Union & The Minnesota Wild

The partnership between Hiway Credit Union and the Minnesota Wild takes a multi-pronged approach. While the credit union’s high-profile sponsorship is visible at every Minnesota Wild event, they wanted to amp up the excitement with automated prize machines. Back at the credit union the rewards for fans continue with super fan checking accounts and monthly prize package drawings. These promotional programs provide a real-world benefit for consumers, holistically connecting their fandom and their money with supporting media and tangible, customized assets like debit and credit cards.

Real Value in Real-World Partnerships

The partnership benefits include:

Free checking accounts with branded debit and credit cards that include discounts at Hockey Lodge locations
Game day Automatic Prize Machine (APM) resembling a giant ATM delivering instant take-home prizes, like autographed jerseys and branded promotional items
Checking account holders receive automatic entry into monthly drawings for fan gear and prize packages, including, game tickets, gift cards, and more


For years, 3M has partnered with SXSW to demonstrate their brand’s application of science to very human challenges. In 2014, 3M hosted the Idea Exchange Lounge with $500 #3MIdeaExchange winners and a $10,000 prize for innovators who connect and inspire change to better the world. This year’s sponsorship was an extension of the brand’s commitment to human-centered science and innovation, something SXSW is known for. 3M’s experience at Vox Media’s The Deep End an immersive experience for SXSW attendees to discover for themselves just how sound affects our everyday lives. 

Real Value in Real-World Partnerships

The sponsorship included:

Immersive experience allowing festival goers to dive into “The Deep End,” a tangible method for experiencing the brand’s acoustic solutions
Bringing the science of sound to life through a series of touchpoints, including the “Experience Sound” quiet booth
Panel discussion with health and wellness influencers addressing how silence, music and noise impact human health

TED & Rolex

Since 2007, Rolex has connected their high-end smart brand with TED’s higher-level smart audience. Going further than product placement alone, the Rolex partnership has integrated with TED so efficiently they not only garner attention for themselves, but give additive value to the TED brand. In 2012, Rolex created the Surprise Me! app to empower people to find targeted Ted talks curated specifically for them. The two brands are sympatico in their market approach. Innovation and design are at the heart of each brand, making their relationship a natural extension of their brand values.

Real Value in Real-World Partnerships

The sponsorship includes:

Consistently providing high-quality original branded content for TED conferences through short videos and engagement opportunities
Moving from a classic event sponsor to a more embedded partner, Rolex works collaboratively with TED to develop more ways to engage audiences
 Resources to develop and deploy the Surprise Me! app to deliver TED content based on the time the viewer has to watch

Now that you’re inspired by these winning partnerships, find how to identify opportunities that are a good fit for your brand. For more information on our partnership consulting services, contact us at

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