How Do You Brand Joint Venture Proposals?

thinkstock_485018025-smThe question about branding a joint venture (JV) proposal arose from our recent blog post about the dilemma whether to brand your proposal with either your brand or the prospective client’s brand.

That is a tough question to answer.

First, decide if this effort is really a 50/50 joint venture because most JV pursuits are not split evenly. Usually joint ventures are with an architecture firm and a construction company doing a design/build project together, a large company serving as the mentor for a smaller DBE company, or possibly a mega company with a niche in that market sector pairing with a local GC (General Contractor) that has relationships with local subs (and hopefully the selection committee). Since this is usually not an even 50/50 split, then one of the companies is the prime and the proposal utilizes their brand look-and -feel. Which company is considered prime is a case-by-case decision and usually decided in the JV agreement, not by the marketing team developing the game plan and proposal.

If this is truly an even split, then, the unified team’s proposal needs to look like each of the brands. For large pursuits, you will regularly see two or three companies combine their names and submit as a single combined entity. Companies do this for liability reasons or to fit the selection committee’s criteria; it forces a new challenge – developing a unified brand for the newly named company.

Besides already being on the clock for a mega proposal and gathering information from multiple people at many different companies, most likely from people you’ve never met in other states, the marketer must also develop a new proposal template that encompasses parts of each companies’ individual brand look and feel. This cohesion is vital because you want the selection committee to feel that this unified effort is genuine and that the companies have worked together before. Submitting a proposal with two or three distinct looks, messages, and cultures will likely confuse the selection committee members and will concern them that this team is not as unified as stated. Clients are looking for a single source to complete their project with as few problems and conflicts as possible. A potential internal conflict with a joint venture team can cause selection committees to be leery and cautious because it can cost time and money with miscommunication and finger pointing.

Unfortunately, there is no magic or silver bullet to unifying multiple companies’ brands into one. We look for common elements of each companies’ culture, messaging, and visual identity such as the colors used. If the companies are genuine in doing a joint venture, then usually the companies involved have similar cultures, methodologies, and processes. Showcase those similarities and position them was the reason the joint venture was initiated to put the selection committee members’ minds at ease.

Contact us if you want to discuss branding joint venture proposals further or if you have a question about proposals you’d like is to address.