Would Starbucks coffee ice cream add to your food truck’s dessert list? Would Billy Bob’s local barbecue sauce boost the sales of your BBQ menu items? Or would an Oreo crust make your cheesecake sound more appealing to individuals reading your menu? Brand partnerships are a great way food truck owners can modify their menu items that can lead to increased sales and stronger and more beneficial relationships with your suppliers.

Not only that but they will give customers an increased awareness of your product and may be more likely to try new items on your food truck menu. Brand partnerships are not new, and not something that many take for granted. Next time you visit a grocery store and you’ll see dozens of examples, from the ice cream aisle (Breyer’s and Hershey ) to snacks (Lay’s and KC Masterpiece) to the cereal aisle (Kellogg’s and Healthy Choice) to desserts (Cinnabon and Mrs. Smith’s).

Why Brand Partnerships?

There are a number of reasons to set up a brand partnership program. To begin with, they’re a powerful way of introducing your truck’s menu items to the loyalists of another brand.

Brand partnerships also enables one brand to benefit from the “halo of affection” that belongs to another. An alliance between a food truck and another local business can do wonders for both.

Another benefit of brand partnerships is cost savings. This is something that can’t be overlooked during these tough economic times. That’s one reason you increasingly see fast-food restaurants like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell sharing the same counter, menu boards, and staff. In some cases, companies create brand partnerships in order to charge a premium. This is the case of Ford’s partnership with Eddie Bauer.

It’s Not Just for Big Brands

Brand partnerships are not just for giant national or international brands. While a mobile food business may have difficulty linking up with the likes of Dole or General Mills, there are an increasing number of off the shelf partnership opportunities of which many businesses can use.

There are bound to be dozens of possible partners in your local geographical area. The key is to think creatively about products or services that complement yours in some way and that will enhance the appeal or credibility of your offering.

For example, a food truck could create a brand partnership with a local baker to create a new menu item. A good place to start generating ideas is by thinking about other types of companies that do a good job serving your target market. You might even ask your customers to identify other companies with which they do business and see if you come across any patterns.

Develop Your Own Guidelines

Be careful, brand partnerships are not without their own risks. First, it tends to have a dilutive effect. They spread the credit for a positive experience across two brands where normally there’s only one. And if the experience isn’t positive; even if it’s the other brand’s fault, it may reflect negatively on you and your food truck.

Because of this, it’s important to carefully consider your own co-branding principles before you enter an agreement. Develop guidelines that are right for your mobile food business that will enable you to objectively assess opportunities that arise. As an example, you may only partner with companies that share complementary values. Or will you partner only with products that hold a best-in-class status. Finally you might only create brand partnerships in situations where you can retain full review and approval rights on all elements of communications. This will narrow your partnership possibilities, but it also reduces its risk.

Create a Proposal

Your criteria may differ based on what’s most appropriate for your situation. While many brands share similar characteristics, no two are exactly alike.

As a starting point, examine existing brand partnership examples and ask yourself how good of a fit they appear to be and why. Seek out other companies and ask them to share their brand partnership guidelines. Then put together the partnership principles that are right for your food truck empire. Once they’re in place, you can brainstorm potential partners who may be a good match and consider the benefits of linking up from their perspective as well as yours. Then put together a proposal and reach out to them.

RELATED: Low Cost Marketing Solutions For Food Truck Vendors

The Bottom Line

Brand partnerships is an often-overlooked marketing strategy by which the whole can truly be greater than the sum of the parts. While it should be used sparingly it could generate a new level of interest and excitement around your food truck.

What do you think brand partnerships? Share your thoughts in the comment section or social media. Facebook | Twitter