10 Best Brand Collabs of the Year
by Chloe Gordon on 12/19/2023 | 6 Minute Read
I love it when two brands team up for a wild collaboration and create something new and delightful—hell, it's great when they even get deeply weird. The seamless fusing of two completely polar opposite brands is a remarkable balancing act, and to genuinely pull it off feels like an act of wizardry.
This past year, we saw countless collabs. And in honor of the flawlessly executed ones, I've curated a list of the top ten brand collabs ranked in order because, aside from ranch ice creams and nacho cheese spirits, nothing gets me more excited than a ranked list.
Here's the thing. It's a tough time to be in the radio business. We're in the age of podcasts, TikTok, and seemingly endless streaming platforms.
Yes, NPR continues to lose listeners, but according to the Pew Research Center, in 2022, it had a weekly listenership of around 8 million, proving plenty of folks still value its broadcasting. And, so, the radio station is doing what it can to stay with the times.
Its collaboration with Delcezza, a gelato brand known for its "old-world methods," feels on-brand for both. Like NPR, gelato is a staple, a classic. I wish the packaging felt a little less Gen Z and a little more traditional, but the quirky illustrations keep both brands relevant, proving they both have their finger on the pulse of what modern-day consumers crave.
Velveeta was redesigned in 2021 by JKR, and with its redesign came a campaign from creative agency Johannes Leonardo and film director Harmony Korine (of Gummo and Spring Breakers). The entirety of the campaign was centered around the line "La Dolce Velveeta," inspired by the Italian phrase "la dolce vita," which translates to "the sweet life."
This collab feeds right into Johannes Leonardo and Harmony Korine's vision, and there's nothing more that I love than an ad campaign that has legs to be able to work two years later. While Compartes is a well-known brand on its own, this collab allows it to break into a space that feels less luxurious and more approachable; it's just the right amount of unexpected that creates intrigue. I mean, a Velveeta truffle? It's revolting, sure, but interesting!
The collaboration between Talea and Fishwife gets it right for so many reasons. First, both brands are female-founded, and I adore the idea of a beer and fish brand (two markets mainly dominated by men) working together. It's feminism at its finest. Further, seeing a beer can drenched in Fishwife's instantly recognizable and quickly loveable branding creates this instant need to learn more about both brands involved. Any brand willing to fully immerse themselves in Fishwife's beloved branding visuals is a brand I want more of.
I love the idea of non-obvious collaborations. At first, I wasn't impressed with the collaboration between Truff and Super Mario Brothers. It felt like Truff, a brand known for its eliteness, was selling out. On the surface, it didn't feel like either of the brand's fans would understand the other company's ethos.
But then it clicked. Truff, a brand infused with truffles, a member of the fungus family, collaborating with a game known for its mushrooms that cause the character to double in strength and size, makes perfect sense.
For those unfamiliar, the slang for beautiful, long nails is "claws." Once you know that, you'll understand why White Claw teamed up with the London-based nail brand Nails.INC. The two brands worked together to create the "Claw Saver Set," which helps those with long nails to open a can without ruining their nails. It's a simple play on words, but it solves a real problem; for that, this collaboration is genius. It's on the pulse for an issue both brands' consumers face, giving them a thoughtful solution and proving that both brands truly and genuinely understand their consumers.
Vacation and AriZona Iced Tea released their lip balm collab in November of this year, a thoughtful choice to bring a sense of warm leisure to a season that's anything but. Each of the three chapsticks, Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey, Iced Tea with Lemon, and Mucho Mango, mimics the canned packaging style of the iced tea flavors. The chapstick's formula embodies Vacation's sun care line products, infused with coconut oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and aloe vera. Both brands are known for their mighty retro aesthetics, so this collaboration feels true to both brands while offering something entirely new.
I'm no caviar expert, but I have tried it on both a potato chip and blinis, and there's something about the crunchy, salty chip paired with the more delicate caviar that feels right. So it only makes good common sense that Pringles fully leaned into the viral TikTok trend of pairing caviar and chips by partnering with The Caviar Co.
The Crisps and Caviar collection includes a pairing of Pringles BBQ, Sour Cream & Onion, and Original crisps with The Caviar Co.'s smoked trout roe and white sturgeon caviar. The kits include a tin-opening, gold collectible caviar keychain and two spoons that come packaged in an all-black co-branded box. It's just the right amount of approachable luxury that everyone loves.
If there's anything Hailey Bieber can do, it's start a movement. Bieber, the founder of Rhode Beauty, is known for creating two food-inspired trends which overwhelmed the TikTok: glazed donut nails and strawberry girl summer makeup. Inspired by the two viral beauty trends, Bieber partnered with Krispy Kreme to launch a strawberry version of her infamous Peptide Lip Treatment, appropriately dubbed "Strawberry Glazed Donut."
Along with the new lip gloss, Krispy Kreme brought back its strawberry-glazed donuts for a limited time. The collaboration is thoroughly on brand for Bieber, known for her fusing of food and makeup; she coined the term "latte makeup," which essentially is just a bronzed, warm brown-hued makeup look.
If Heinz and Absolut have anything in common, it's that they're category owners: Heinz for ketchup and Absolut for vodka. The two beloved brands coming together to make a tomato vodka sauce is—dare I say—innovation at its absolute finest. It's a collaboration that feels so seamless, perfect, and on the nose that I wonder why it didn't happen sooner.
I love that the brands chose something as simple as a vodka sauce. They didn't need to get weird or wacky with the collaboration to make a lasting impact. I also adore how the label effortlessly fuses both brand's packaging systems. This collaboration left me worshiping both legacy brands even more than I already did.
The Tiffany and Nike collaboration came with its fair share of controversy, with worked-up folks on Reddit saying things like, "They didn't even try," or "It's definitely a shoe."
But despite what the interwebs might think, this collaboration was, in fact, the best of the past year, at least in my opinion.
I don't use the word "iconic" lightly, but there's truly nothing more iconic than a Tiffany Blue Box, and merging that with Nike's Air Force 1 1837s creates a beautifully dual-branded piece of art. Yes, the shoes are simple, but beautifully so, and it's clean and understatedly elegant look I adore. The brands aren't trying to reinvent the wheel; they're doing the opposite; they're fusing two amazingly well-respected pieces of culture and design in a way that feels authentic to both. The Tiffany Blue Shoebox is a work of art, and having Nikes inside is pure magic.