3 proven ways brands and creators align [+ how to stay on track]

Discover how brands and creators can align effectively to forge lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships. And gain proven strategies for successful collaboration, from communication to compensation models, that keep both parties motivated and engaged. 

stay on track
Chad McKenzie
Chad McKenzie
Content Marketing Manager
Read time: 5 mins

The creator economy is the marketer’s version of a scavenger hunt, filled with compelling rewards if you know where to look. Consider Daniel Wellington, a brand consistently striking gold by partnering with creators for user-generated content (UGC). This jewelry and watch brand has mastered the art of alignment, ensuring mutually beneficial collaborations. 

With 84 percent of creators overwhelmed by brand requests, keeping them motivated and engaged is crucial. Discover how to align your partnerships effectively—from recruitment strategies to compensation models—and learn how to keep these relationships thriving.

Luxury brand Daniel Wellington partners with global creators, such as South African creator Tumi Links, to create engaging UGC.

Key takeaways from this blog
  1. Creators and brands are looking to grow together through partnerships, highlighting the potential for mutual benefits and smooth connections.
  2. There’s a strong preference for hybrid compensation. Both parties prefer combining flat fees with commissions.
  3. High-quality products and good working relationships come first for brands and creators seeking long-term partnerships. 
  4. Communication and equality matter. Viewing creators as equal partners and focusing on clear communication build strong relationships essential to influencer marketing success.
  5. Offering performance bonuses and discussing future projects motivates creators, strengthening the brand-creator bond for lasting growth.

3 ways brands and creators align in their partnership preferences

Understanding the preferred working styles of your partners and leveraging them will pave the way for fruitful partnerships. Here are three key ways (backed by research) that brands and creators like to collaborate: 

  1. Brands and creators want to grow together and prefer outreach via DMs and email
  2. Both parties favor hybrid compensation models
  3. Good working relationships and quality contribute to long-term partnerships

#1 Brands and creators want to grow together and prefer outreach via DMs and email

According to our research, 86 percent of creators and 76 percent of brands want to expand their business through more partnerships this year. This means a sea of opportunities for brands. For both parties, the preferred outreach method is DM and email—this is how creators most often contact brands and how brands want to be contacted.

Interestingly, 96 percent of brands want creators to contact them first, while nearly two-thirds of creators prefer contacting brands. 

#2 Both parties favor hybrid compensation models

When working with new and established partners, creators and brands prefer hybrid compensation models (this is a flat fee plus commission—more on that here). But there is a nuance to this: established creator partners are more open to commissions or bonuses (33 percent) than new partners (18 percent). 

With hybrid payments, creators earn guaranteed payouts upfront for their work. Plus, they’re incentivized to perform well and earn extra income through commissions. This pushes additional brand awareness and sales, making it a win-win for both parties.

#3 Good working relationships and quality contribute to long-term partnerships

In a partnership, brands and creators cite quality as the most important value. For brands, it’s quality content from creators, while creators value a high-quality product. Remember, creators need to maintain audience trust by promoting products they genuinely love. Consumers easily spot unauthentic recommendations, which harms the brand and creator. 

Next, both partners value a good working relationship. Brands seek creators who are easy to work with, show professionalism, and communicate promptly. On the other hand, creators want creative freedom and clear project guidelines.

Content performance (likes, comments, sales, etc.) falls to the second most crucial brand value, while creators value compensation and the overall partnership experience more.

Irish foodie influencer Garron Noone, known for his phrase “follow me, I’m delicious” partners with McDonnel’s curry sauce in this entertaining Instagram Reel. This collaboration emphasizes a great partner match and a quality product. 

How to build authentic creator partnerships

Building strong creator relationships requires consistent effort. Follow these three easy steps to foster mutual satisfaction and better connections: 

Treat creators as equal partners 

Creators prioritize their needs and goals over brand conversions and sales. To get them on board, create shared goals and treat them as genuine brand partners, not one-off content creators. 

Clearly communicate your brand’s definition of success and key performance metrics (KPIs). Strong communication will help creators understand your objectives, make them feel involved, and align their goals with yours. Think of it as forming a team with your partners.

Emphasize open communication and trust your partners’ expertise in content creation

Many brands experience ghosting from their creator partners. The disappearing act typically occurs when creators are overwhelmed by unrealistic deadlines and the partnerships take strain. To combat ghosting, clearly define your campaign expectations and collaborate with your partners on realistic timelines. 

Like being in a team, rely on creators as the expert content curators. Open a consistent line of communication where creators can check in and manage your expectations. This lets you calm any stress, ensuring they deliver quality work and stick around. 

Motivate creators with rewards and future projects  

In any business relationship, both parties want a good deal. Make your creator partnerships worthwhile by offering your top performers incentives such as performance bonuses. Pair this with a flat fee so creators can cover their overheads. 

If you’ve developed a consistent, productive relationship, discuss future projects and include them in brainstorming sessions. This motivates creators to excel and plants the seed for long-term partnerships. Most brands see better results over time when working with the same creators. 


Why is brand and creator alignment important?

Brand and creator alignment can lead to numerous benefits for both parties. For brands, aligning with the right creators can help increase brand awareness, reach new audiences, and leverage the influencer’s credibility and expertise. For creators, aligning with well-known brands can provide them exciting opportunities, increased exposure, and additional revenue streams.

How do brands and creators find alignment?

The alignment process typically begins with brands identifying creators that align with their target audience, brand values, and business objectives. This involves conducting thorough research and analyzing potential creators’ content, engagement metrics, and audience demographics.

How can brands and creators establish a successful alignment?

Transparent communication: Both parties must openly discuss their goals, expectations, and guidelines to ensure a shared understanding and effective collaboration. Maintain creative freedom: Allow creators to showcase their unique style and creativity while incorporating the brand’s key messaging. Foster long-term partnerships: Building long-term relationships can lead to more authentic content, as creators can deeply understand the brand and its audience over time. Track and measure results: Regularly review and assess the performance of collaborative campaigns to understand what works and make adjustments for future alignments.

Strengthen your creator partnerships by thinking long-term

Aligning with your creator partners is essential for successful and long-term collaborations. Creators want to grow their partnerships, so make it an easy win by creating shared goals and being easy to work with. 

Build authentic creator relationships by treating creators as equal partners, maintaining open communication, and offering incentives like performance bonuses. You’ll get better content out of it, and customers will gravitate to your brand.

Learn more in our research reports:

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