Let’s face it. Your brand partnerships probably suck. I’d like to blame this on infamous YouTuber Logan Paul even though it’s not his fault. However, based on recent behavior, he is the catalyst for this post. In the last few months, almost every brand that has worked with him is not only distancing themselves but rethinking their strategy for partnering with influencers. It’s all about the views and visibility and prayers that this will somehow turn into sales and/or brand affection – until it goes horribly awry.

Not too long after, CNN announced that its $25 million purchase of YouTuber Casey Neistat’s video production company would be shut down as the deal failed to bring the younger viewers it expected.

The truth is that sometimes brand partnerships don’t work out. Typically, it is because they aren’t managed, selected or executed properly. And even when they are, they can still go south because they aren’t thought through. The consequences can range from downright expensive to fatal.


  1. You don’t have a marketing partnership strategy/plan. Brands often partner with businesses because of the name cachet, a historical relationship, or just plain admiration. However, the partnership isn’t properly vetted, dissected or explored in depth. Brands need to qualify partnerships, set clear expectations for ROI and only dip into their pocket when absolutely necessary. A deep dive plan can look into these issues and create a template for how partnerships should be internally evaluated and assessed.
  2. It’s just a media buy disguised as a ‘brand partnership.’ The word partner implies a two-way relationship but often it isn’t. It’s a media buy. And if you aren’t a big fish with pockets that go deeper than the ocean, forget about it. Paid partnerships are not typically reciprocal nor are they customized for your brand. They are one-size fits all offerings, often spun to make it seem like value is being added. But at the end of the day, you are the one paying big dollars for something that could have probably been executed for WAY less.
  3. You aren’t using your media and marketing assets as leverage. If you are a retailer, the obvious asset is your floor or window space, but your email newsletter or your customer database is just as valuable. One way or another, most brands have something that other brands want, so use it to your benefit. You don’t need physical space to barter either. Your online assets can be worth just as much as those with offline assets. Think of both digital and physical executions – co-branded limited edition mini-shops, promotions, publications, guides, etc. can all offer something new and fresh to your customers without much of a headache and can be executed in a variety of ways.

How do you avoid these missteps? First, do a Brand Partner Assessment. Are you really getting what you paid for? Is there a way to save money? Secondly, get some insight from a brand partnership agent (here is our shameless plug) that can help you plan for the future and look at your existing assets and their worth. They can also offer a third party unbiased POV and, if needed, the heavy lifting required to reach and build connections with your A-List partners.

Bottom line: Partnerships can suck but they don’t have to if you follow a few simple steps. In the end, it may help you choose the right influencer instead of the wrong one.