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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

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Battle of the Brands: Can Partnership Prevail?

By - Feb 26 2015


What’s in a brand? Is it a classic logo? A new and refreshing one? Is it a competitive value proposition? Or quality brand associations? Is it a catchy jingle? Or a trusted, consistent product? None of the above, according to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who believes that “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” More than the identifying qualities of what you’re selling, a brand is essentially a company’s reputation, and loyalty to this reputation is more important than ever in today’s battle of the brands, and how this battle directly translates into sales. Though competition is no novelty in the private sector, the hyper-connectivity and ultra-competition that define the market today mean that there is no down time, no calm period, and ultimately—every single act counts toward the bottom line. In this climate where stakes for competitors have never been higher, can cross-industry partnership possibly prevail, or at least wave the white flag, in the 24/7 battle of the brands?

We think so. As a multilateral finance institution, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) would seemingly have little drive to discuss private sector branding. With a clear developmental mandate, why get involved in corporate branding matters? Because today’s societal and environmental problems are just too vast for the public sector and civil society to tackle alone. Confronting them instead requires increasing private sector involvement, as the scale and complexity of development issues puts their resolution beyond the power of any single institution. These issues require collaboration not just across sectors, but also across competitive industries, where the strengths of top, even rival, brands can be applied to identify innovative, effective development solutions.

And herein lies the problem. Collaboration among traditionally competing brands means these rivals must sign up for shared image and branding, something that doesn’t come quite naturally to ultracompetitive entities. Large corporations almost universally recognize the need to work in public-private partnerships. But to collaborate within their very industry? That’s asking a lot.

The good news, however, is that change has been slowly coming. A new era of industry collaboration is emerging, and at the IDB, we feel very proud for helping to facilitate it. Take for example the Inclusive Regional Recycling Initiative (IRR), a regional platform that integrates recyclers, previously referred to as informal waste pickers, into formal supply chains within adequate regulatory frameworks. Launched by the IDB Group through its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and Water and Sanitation Division, the Avina Foundation, the Regional Recyclers Association and The Coca-Cola Company, the initiative has achieved great impact in its first four years of life. The challenge now facing founding members, however, is how to make it sustainable and scalable for years to come.

To overcome this challenge, the IRR must look to the private sector to engage more players, even if that means looping in the competition of its very founders. Though this may sound like another challenge, or even an impossible feat in and of itself, just last week the IRR proved it is possible for partnership to prevail. Alongside The Coca-Cola Company and other founding members, PepsiCo officially joined the IRR team, integrating its valuable knowledge, unique experience, and diverse on-the-ground recycling projects into this collaborative framework. Though the competition between these brands is historic, the companies willingly set aside the battle of the brands to achieve a larger socioeconomic and environmental impact. The process was not easy or fast, and the IDB’s neutrality and convening power played a key role, but The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have effectively proved that where there is goodwill, there is always a way.

The results of last week’s announcement came in quickly, loud, and clear, with media pleasantly surprised at this new partnership jumping to cover it. As a result, both brands were reinforced, both strengthened, and neither weakened. Whether you call it a golden triangle or ruthless collaboration, it seems that in working together, all players can win in the battle of the brands.

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One Response to “Battle of the Brands: Can Partnership Prevail?”

  • Vanel :

    As an MBA professional with expertise in Latin American and Caribbean Affairs as well as in-depth knowledge of Financial Intelligence, Results-oriented Leadership, Organizational Effectiveness and Global Strategy, I believe that successful organizations, best-admired companies, well-managed multinational institutions have in common the same traits and characteristics : – They hire, train and develop the Right talent with the Right skillset for the Right position to solve highly complex organizational problems and resolve challenging issues by re-engineering organizational structures, leveraging resources, strengthening internal controls, eliminating waste and enhancing effectiveness to sustain results through the application of advanced technologies and integrated systems. From my background, international experience and expertise in global operations and data analytics, I strongly recognize the major impact of talented MBA professionals on innovation, job creation and economic growth.

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