The Difference Between Brand Patronage and Brand Sponsorship

fernando aguileta de la garza ELLE Education brand Sponsorship Patronage
Brand Equity is related to brand image and communication activities surrounding the company’s purpose among many other business strategies. ¿Sponsor or patron? Today we share some ideas about how sponsorship and patronage work in a communication strategy.
ELLE Education Business
TopicPatronage / Fashion System / Sponsorship

Event sponsorship has been a recurrent strategy for brands who want to establish and increase their positioning. There is a thin line that separates a patronage activity from a sponsorship activity. Continue reading this article to understand the differences, some examples in both activities, and how to choose the best route in implementing this type of strategy for your brand or your lifestyle project.

Author Cornwell defines sponsorship-linked marketing as “the orchestration and implementation of marketing activities to build and communicate an association to a sponsorship”. To meet the communication goals of sponsorships, you must have careful management and considerable leverage of the sponsorship investment.

Brand sponsorship integrates both short-term and long-term strategies, as a brand may sponsor a particular event due to relevance, cultural momentum, or business opportunity, and drop it the next season. On the contrary, sponsorship can be included in the long-term business roadmap, increasing brand involvement within the sponsorship activity, and making it a key brand image sponsorship.

The goal of a sponsorship deal is to maintain brand relevance through third parties. This is why sponsorships of sports, causes, and events are the most common strategies for brands to profit from. In addition, this type of sponsorship has become an established communication tool seen as useful in building brand awareness, brand image, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Marketing expert David Aaker argues that “brand awareness and image, […] are integral to the idea of brand equity, the set of value-adding assets linked to a brand”. When choosing a sponsorship, the brand must be under active management, as it contributes to setting a strategy against competitors and increasing financial value.

Giorgio Armani is a regular sponsor of the Italian Olympic Team uniforms. The Swiss brand Rolex now sponsors all four Grand Slam events as well as other elite tournaments such as the Davis Cup and the Laver Cup. The Rolex clock has kept official time at The Championships, Wimbledon, since 1978. This proves the brand’s consistency in choosing the right partnerships.

Since 2009, Bvlgari jewelers have been in partnership with Save The Children empowering more than two million children to build a better future through education. Recently, they have sponsored the Research Department of the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome to fight against Coronavirus. They have donated a 3D high-definition microscope, the first to be installed in the city of Rome, and will allow researchers to carry out innovative experimental research protocols.

Brand Patronage: At the intersection of Arts, History, and Legacies for Mankind

Do patronage and sponsorship mean the same? Words can be very ambiguous, especially in English, as there is no exact word for cultural patronage, unlike mécénant in French, mecenatismo in Italian, mäzenatentum in German, or mecenazgo in Spanish. Those words denote a superior’s protection and support of an inferior, whether from the citizen, political, economic, or artistic perspective, which is ultimately the one that comes closest to brand patronage.

For example, back in the renaissance period, the use of cultural patronage for self-advertisement and political propaganda was widely recognized. The patron, as a social figure, served a fundamental function in the development and flourishment of art in modern Europe.

Artists and writers often defended their patrons to win their favor. This relationship was not symmetrical since the patrons demand certain cultural issues, themes, or styles of work from their protégés since in the end, they were the ones who provide the artists with the material to produce the works, as well as financial support over time.

If we compare court patronage with the current business scene, we can find similarities, since in the past an artist had to market his artistic projects in an understandable and attractive way, since his success would be linked to the prestige of a patron. Nowadays, brands foster cultural projects and choose relevant artists to encourage brand values and elevate their relevance -and contribution- within the fashion business.

The main difference between a sponsorship and patronage perhaps is that in the first one, brands look for safe exposure, and in the second one, the main motivation is to secure a cult status and social validation.

Culture works as a catalyst for the communication of a fashion brand. They need culture to transcend the “trade-only” perspective. For example, Fendi contributed €2.2 million to the restoration of the Fontana di Trevi, one of the most important symbols of the Roman city. Protecting a universal cultural heritage created by Nicola Salvi between 1732 and 1762 is more than an advertisement campaign, it is a commitment.

Prada has built an artistic brand identity through associations with prestigious architects and conceptual artists. Miuccia Prada carefully selects her patronage radar. Miu Miu Women’s Tales is the perfect example of her patronage of female cinema directors, commissioning two films a year since 2011. In addition, the brand actively participated in the restoration of Giorgio Vasari’s Last Supper, following a twelve-year almost impossible process.

“We are therefore proud to have helped to return this extremely significant work to its original location and to make it accessible to the public, who can once again admire it in all its beauty”, stated Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada Group.

Patronage and philanthropy dance together in the same room. For example, back in 1988, American designer Ralph Lauren donated $10 million to help restore the original “Star-Spangled Banner” flag that inspired the national anthem at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Whether through sponsorship or patronage, brands must choose carefully which relationships and projects will benefit the brand. Be faithful to the brand goals and be aware that the communication action will also mean a collateral investment in promotion and publicity.


Originally published at: ELLE Education Business >