When Co-Branding Really Works. Bloomberg Businessweek is a powerful combination.

The acquisition of Businessweek by Bloomberg created a natural reason to put both brands together… and it is a good example of when a co-brand strategy can really work. It may seem obvious where it all ended up, but I am sure there was some serious consideration before the dual brand name was engraved in the masthead. Kudos to Bloomberg.

As the costs escalate for companies in the business of timely information gathering, there will be a crying need for an authority and credible source of business information for the general public. Gone are they days of crowing by one information service implying it is better than another. Today, you have to prove it more than ever. By combining the information gathering and intelligence of these two organizations, the resulting Bloomberg Businessweek becomes a significant and powerful source of knowledge and intelligence. So far, their printed magazine has begun to show the benefits by deepening coverage and insights. The website is better yet. However, the real carrot for Bloomberg is to become a major, if not the best, authority on business information across the board. This will allow them to extend their influence, and capture revenues in many different ways.

From a brand practitioner’s standpoint, co-branding can be sliced in several ways. Ingredient branding often tacks on an ingredient to a primary brand to communicate that it is now better. For example, Betty Crocker’s brownie mix includes Hershey’s chocolate syrup. General Mills believes that having a better ingredient will help sell more of their product than competitors. Because Hershey’s has a long-standing reputation of making very good chocolate syrup, the co-brand strategy works for them. But imagine if the ingredient was found to be inconsistent, or worse, or inferior quality. It could tarnish the primary brand. So co-brand partner selection is very important.

Joint venture co-branding brings together two different companies, usually in a business-to-business situation, to strengthen an offering. Think about seeing the Oneworld alliance promoted with the participating airlines (American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, etc). Being a member through my carrier tells me that my airline is better because of the access and benefits the joint venture brand brings, potentially making my life easier.

The credit card industry is famous for bringing together multiple co-brands in hopes of providing a stronger offer. I carry a Citi CitiBusiness AAdvantage MasterCard cleared through the Cirrus interbank network. There is often debate about whether the mouthful of brands confuses the cardholder, and makes card decision-making even harder. It might help if they looked at their offer from the standpoint of their members, and not their business configuration. It makes my head hurt.

The Bloomberg and Businessweek co-brand offering is technically a corporate endorsement co-brand strategy where (in this case) the parent company has exactly equal value as the sub-brand. This brand strategy really signals is a new platform of knowledge and intelligence. It is a terrific marriage of two strong source brands to result in possibly the most powerful business information offering in a world where costs have reduced the depth and quality of information.

From a business standpoint, it will be up to Bloomberg to maximize the continuing richness of their content in order to fulfill the true potential of this new co-brand. Every indication is that they will.