Affiliate Marketing: The Game of Association

January 27, 2021 BY Katie Liddle - Get free updates of new posts HERE

After a Christmas in lockdown, I was happy to be back at work rather than face one more game of charades or Monopoly. But one thing that did seem to stick into the New Year was word association. Maybe not words specifically, but the idea that we associate, whether it’s consciously done or not. Naturally ‘affiliate marketing‘, one might say.

Every brand, body and organisation are entirely unique in what they do. What they say, and what they stand for are all contributing factors that make up the basis of their identity and as a result, their corporate reputation. When considering the nature of affiliate marketing is creating and sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships, what are the implications of connecting another brand, and all that comes with them, with your own?

Before the days of Corona, let’s think back to when climate change and environmentalism were the hot topics. This shift in awareness and demand to see businesses claim responsibility meant a huge focus for organisations to reflect ethically sustainable practices within their brand in order to build positive public relations for the future. It became, and still is, probably the bandwagon of all bandwagons to jump on. So, with this as an example, could partnering with a “greener” company, one that’s recognised for its sustainable efforts, positively reflect on your own brand, even if these exact efforts are dissimilar to you own? We know that it’s a huge influence on decision making within the B2C environment with reports suggesting up to 88% of consumers want brands to help them make a difference (Forbes, 2018). There’s got to be potential there to positively influence how well the brands you promote resonate with the people behind the data, and ultimately persuade conversions.

This is not to say that marketing brands that suit such specific requirements of your traffic guarantee any positive impact. Of course, in every scenario, there are the potential repercussions of this not working in favour. Especially when given the above context, it could come across as trying to generate an impression that may not be entirely true and reflective of your business. A little seedy sounding at least. On this side of the scale, it will just have the opposite intended effect. The end consumer won’t resonate with the affiliate brand and could therefore negatively impact on their perception of both the partnered brands. This however is not something to dismiss on that alone – everything has its downfalls! There are a million and one examples of how this idea of partnering can be honest and mutually beneficial for both the two partnering brands and the end consumer and that’s the ideal I want to bring to light.

A really great way to do this on a broader business scale is by creating partnerships with charities or non-profit organisations. Some classic examples of this in the UK would include Marks and Spencers’ collaboration with Oxfam, for which they earned recognition amongst ‘Britain’s Most Admired Companies’ (Management Today, 2014). Another supermarket giant Sainsbury’s have also reaped the benefits of a 21 yearlong partnership with Comic Relief. Referring back to the green side of things, Velvet with Amata and their ‘Three Tree’s promise’ is another memorable venture which despite since rebranding, means they are still often associated with the cuddly Koala Bear mascot their pledge aimed to protect. A perfect example of the positive impact created by the collaboration that remains ingrained in their public image, even after it’s ended. When this is brought down to the affiliate marketing scale then, it reinforces how the reflections created within each brand throughout and after a partnership can be greater and much more enduring than perhaps expected.

If one does begin to thoroughly evaluate what it is that could positively influence their traffic, in more ways than just to singularly convert, it would require individual analysis in order for any real resonance to be developed. The green company example has an increasingly broader appeal but to ensure the best chance at this having a positive influence, looking specifically into your traffics demographics and psychographics will be crucial when contemplating what sort of partnerships could bring additional value.

So, the point is this; the aligning of two separate entities holds the potential for advanced benefits that occur simultaneously, and even sub-consciously, alongside the paying lead everyone is in it for. It’s worth a least a small ponder as to the impact these alliances have on perception and opinion and the rolling consequences of this. Its’ the idea that in what seems a simple game of ad to publisher, there’s more than likely a whole host of wider implications that combining brands in this way must have, beyond the surface benefit of exchanging and motivating sales and leads.


References: 2021. Britain’s Most Admired Companies 2014. [online] Available at:

Townsend, S., 2021. 88% Of Consumers Want You To Help Them Make A Difference. [online] Forbes. Available at:


Written by Katie Liddle