If you were to ask luxury brands what their thoughts are about mash-ups, chances are they will dismiss the entire idea completely. To these mega brands, the thought of sharing the spotlight with another brand means potential dilution of the brand’s prestige as well as taking the focus away from its products. Hence, in the past, collaborations were often frowned upon.
Times have changed and mash-ups are all the rage right now. Take a look at the highly successful collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme, the collection flew off the shelves and has since spawned other types of mash-ups: Dior x Air Jordan, Gucci x The North Face, Prada x Adidas, and many more. “By mashing up two brands, especially in diverse industries, the impact can be exponential,” an article by Forbes states. The publication even declared that 2020 was the year of the brand mash-up. Essentially, it is uniting two superb brands together to create something unexpected and able to have a great reach. Till now, the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection is still a talking point for many in the fashion industry.
While fashion brought the attention of mash-up to the general public, music is perhaps the progenitor of this form of collaboration. Looking at the top five songs this week, about three of them will have a “feature”, in addition to the main artists or have the song remixed so that it is now even more appealing to listeners. This phenomenon is neither something new nor a novelty, it has become the norm. The reason for this is because the audience wants and expects more, and the fastest way to shake up expectations is through blending the rules of genre.
The product of mash-ups does not only reside in the products it creates such as music and fashion. Companies can stand to gain if a culture of collaboration is cultivated that allows for the cross-pollination of ideas across different departments. The fathers of modern-day management, Fredrick Winslow Taylor and Henri Fayol, have mentioned that an individual should specialise in a field and this can bring about higher productivity. This concept is unchallenged as it has proven to work but unfortunately, the founders have unknowingly created the modern-day corporate silo. As individuals focus on their field of work, chances for any innovative breakthrough are greatly reduced. While the aim for productivity creates greater output, the breakthrough of innovation enables the creation of new products that generate more productivity, which can help a brand to stay ahead of the curve with its new products.
Another reason why we gravitate towards mash-ups is the same as why brands are so fixated on branding: we like what is familiar to us. But, we also enjoy an element of surprise, hence we listen or watch with anticipation to see how the new product would unfold despite knowing how it has been like. In psychology, this anticipation gives us a hit of dopamine. However, not every brand loves a mash-up, as mentioned above, this dilutes a brand’s prestige or it could infringe upon the copyright of the brand. When done well, it will definitely generate buzz and profit for the company.
While mash-ups can be a way for brands to leverage the authenticity of both brands in partnership, it should not be done haphazardly. In the wake of influencer marketing, the trust between consumers and brands has dwindled and studies have shown an “atmosphere of disbelief” permeating the advertising industry. Hence, it is imperative that brands do not look too gimmicky as authenticity is top of mind. Much of the time, this happens to celebrity endorsements as the message put across gets too commercialised and “scripted”. Consumers are smart and should not be underestimated.
An example of a tone deaf mash-up:
In a world where it is getting more difficult to really invent new things, doing mash-ups is probably the way to create novel products in order to remain relevant. The only way forward now is to think out of the box, conceive the unconventional, eliminate any limitations to unleashing creativity. Be in-tuned with what’s happening and ultimately, be original.