Companies are increasingly seeing the value in embedding their brands into cultural networks. But doing this successfully and not just relying on paid influencer posts or appearances is not easy. It is a process that might take time, and it’s not something you do on a campaign-to-campaign basis.
Maybe that’s why few are doing it well.

A good example is New Balance, whom we’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the past year.
With a focus on Excellent Makers they have created an outward looking vision that naturally lends itself to cultural partnerships. But still, finding the right partners takes time and it is an organic process.

In our first collaboration this year, we teamed up with three different influencers to illustrate the urban nature of the reintroduced MRT580. With a heritage in trail running, the sneaker had been updated for the active urbanite who demands a shoe that works all over the city – from back alleys to rooftops

In our #FindYourPlayground campaign, we feature a Hong Kong based Bike Polo team, a group of fearless rooftop raiders and urban artist Charles Munka. Different personalities but united in the way they use their city creatively.

While the campaign itself received some good exposure, the most valuable outcome for us was the relationships we built. Charles Munka joined us on our next trip to Tokyo where he opened doors to some interesting collaborations through his own network – some of which would have been very hard to access to otherwise. This can only happen if you build the right relationship from the beginning.

We feel that in order to grow organic networks for brands, there needs to be a mutual understanding – otherwise it simply turns into an endorsement that may feel out of place.

Relevance – does the partnership even make sense?
Value exchange – what’s in it for the collaborator?
Quality of content – does the output live up to the collaborator’s standards?

Our activity for New Balance has turned into an ongoing content program where we seek partnerships and opportunities based on new releases. But we try to find the right ones that can help build the brand, not just win a few quick clicks.

We think more brands should start thinking differently of cultural networks and move away from the “influencer as a medium” mentality.

The best partnerships are based on equal value exchange.

See some of our latest work with New Balance here.