Toast Ale and the new wave of brand co-operators | B&B Studio

Stronger together. The new wave of brand co-operators.


Brand collaborations are nothing new. Nike & Sharpie, Uber & Spotify, Lego & Ikea – there are countless celebrated and mutually beneficial partnerships to be found as you scroll through Instagram. But rarely are these collabs between competing brands. No surprise – raising awareness of a competitor product has rarely been seen as advantageous.

At the end of 2021, Toast Ale launched its Companion Series, a coalition of 25 breweries coming together to call on world leaders at COP26 to respond to the global climate and nature crisis. The breweries’ mission was to drive awareness of the need to tackle food waste and raise £65,000 from a small limited-edition collection of beers to put towards conservation and regenerative agriculture.

Toast Ale is a circular economy brand and tackling food waste is at its core, but ultimately the breweries involved are competing businesses. But they understood the need to unite for a crisis that is bigger than all of them. This coalition was not a traditional brand partnership, it was a brand co-operation – something still quite rarely seen, and certainly not covered in the brand marketing handbook.

Actions speak louder than words

These days, every brand on the supermarket shelf claims to be driven by a purpose beyond profit, however some truly walk the walk on a day-to-day basis. Toast's planet saving purpose is built in at its core. Signature Brew, one of the 25 Companions, was created with the mission to revolutionise the quality of beer at live music events and supports the live music industry.

For others, showing willing through action - like these 25 Breweries - offers a more compelling proof of purpose than cleverly-worded mission statements. When competing brands co-operate it takes the focus off product and onto message. It suggests a genuine desire for positive change and undercuts the cynicism so easily attached to brand purpose.

As 'brand purpose' becomes inflated, there’s meaning in a little less conversation and a little more action from the brands that matter today.

Lisa Desforges is Head of Strategy at B&B studio

Companions Toast Companions Signature Brew Toast