Whether it's a leading consumer brand employing a celebrity as creative director or a major B2B tech firm collaborating with a psychologist on a best practice guide, co-creation is a bandwagon that the world's leading brands are rapidly jumping onto.

Co-creation is the process by which a brand partners with an 'influencer' and they then work together to create (and often distribute) content.

Why is this trend increasing?

  1. The power of celebrities and 'influencers' remains high.
  2. But our trust in them (and in brands) is diminishing.
  3. Increasingly influencers want more than just 'payment', they want content and/or kudos.
  4. The need for brands to remain 'current' and embrace the zeitgeist.
  5. To target new communities that are otherwise out of reach.

Four steps for effective co-creation

To make the most co-creation, brands need to bear the following in mind:

  • Be authentic. After years and years of push marketing, we've all grown pretty savvy to inauthentic attempts by brands to get in front of our eyes. We spot it a mile off, it leaves a bad taste in our mouths and makes us less likely to trust a brand, let alone buy from them. Transparency isn't just necessary to retain eyeballs or from a moral standpoint, it's increasingly a legal requirement too.
  • Their world, not your world. It might sound obvious, but if you are co-creating specifically to try and tap into the community an influencer has established, then it makes sense to focus your efforts in the place where that influencer has influence. So forget about your owned channels and/or the existing channel strategy you have in place. Go where the people are and to the place where your influencer is able to express their creativity effortlessly. For example, if you are working with a video blogger, then the medium and networks you use should be selected specifically for this.
  • Embrace unpredictability. As seemingly with everything online these days, you have to work harder and harder to get cut through. Your content doesn't just have to compete with all your competitors out there, it has to compete with the updates from friends and family on your Facebook newsfeed that you actually care about. Being different and unpredictable is a great way to achieve this.
  • Realise that everyone is an influencer now. The ultimate end point for co-creation is user generated content. In a world where everyone has a Facebook account, the potential for digital influence is far greater than it ever has been. Encouraging people to co-create with a brand is perhaps the most powerful form of viral marketing imaginable.

Co-creation isn't without its perils and pitfalls. It requires a brand to adopt a mindset where it relinquishes an element of control.

It has to put its faith (and its brand equity) in the hands of someone else.

But get it right and it can be a powerful way to build credibility and reputation.

picture credit


Published 3 July, 2013 by Danny Whatmough

Danny Whatmough is Head of Digital, EMEA Consumer at Weber Shandwick. He can be found on TwitterGoogle+  and blogs at dannywhatmough.com.

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Comments (2)

Steve Davies

Steve Davies, CEO at Fitch Media

We began seriously pushing co-creation six years ago, but we were too early, burned a lot of cash and found brands where still addicted to the sound of their own voice.

The philosophy applies not only to content marketing but also news media, the role of the marketer (or publisher) is to 'harness' the contributions of an audience, but there are several key approaches that make this easier to accomplish.

One of these is to 'steer' or provide inspiration at key moments in the content life-cycle, the other is to discover 'genuinely good' user-generated content and add value using the age-old skills of a journalist or editor.

The one point I'd challenge is where you say a brand "..has to put its faith (and its brand equity) in the hands of someone else", the reality is that's been the case for many years.

about 5 years ago


John Pemberton

This was really interesting as we help all of our clients do this co-creations through our feedback / referral service.

It kinda works like a dream and it is our clients getting content from their clients.

Please view our video on our home page to see, but we have been doing this for over seven years now.....

about 5 years ago

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