This was the envelope of the invitation we sent out. Funny story, we managed to spell Schuman wrong on it.

Increasing Brand Value Through Symbiotic Partnerships. — BTS#3.1

Toon Carpentier
6 min readFeb 9, 2016


This post is part of my Behind The Scenes series. <<Start with BTS#1

Aloft, a hotel that is a part of the Starwood group, approached us to host an Instameet, a meet-up for Instagrammers, to meet the people behind the pictures at their hotel in Brussels.

Instameet was one of our many random projects and the last event was a big failure and rather traumatizing. Initially we agreed with Aloft to host one at their hotel, but as we kept having nightmares, we made them a better proposal.

Until that point Musketon was best known as an illustrator working in the music industry. He worked his way up from designing for local DJs and parties to making artwork for Steve Aoki and Nike.

There is a huge difference in perception between an illustrator making illustrations, and an artist who makes art.

For Musketon to be taken serious we needed to reposition him as artist. Turns out that the easiest way to do this is to put your art on a wall and say it is an expo. Musketon at the time was just a team of two, with very limited resources, not enough to create an expo that would have real impact.

A true partnership is figuring out what the goals are of the person on the other side of the table, and finding a way to help them achieve those goals.

We realized that Aloft was looking for a good (PR) story, that could put the spotlight on their hotel. So we suggested instead of organizing Instameet #3, to host the first ever Musketon expo. A first of something is always a better story than a third if you want to convince journalists.

Aloft targets a young and hip audience, sharing a lot of the brand values of Musketon, so to be linked with a cool upcoming artist would reinforce their brand values.

This was the invitation we send out to all our guests. I estimate the cost those fancy invitations to + €1000. So this is something we wouldn’t be able to pull off with out the support of Aloft.

Speak up. Without telling them what you need they won’t be able to give it.

Never hold back or be afraid to tell others what you need or are trying to accomplish. Without us telling the people at Aloft that we would love to do an expo, it wouldn’t happened.

Not because they wouldn’t want to help us, but just because they wouldn’t have known. Don’t be shy even if the other party is more experienced or so much bigger than you.

Find those assets which are easy and cheap for your partner, but really valuable to you.

A collaboration between a brand and talent should be about creating something together which you wouldn’t be able to do separately.

Teaming up with Aloft for this expo had a lot of advantages. A lot of things that we would never be able to afford, came easy in this collaboration.

  • The space.

To do an expo you need to have a big space that is easy accessible. We used their lobby which is open to the public 24/7, and anyone could visit the expo for over 3 months.

Personal some of my favourite work by Musketon.
  • Press.

Press can be really helpful to increase your brand value when you need to change your perception. As an upcoming artist you probably don’t have a lot of press contacts. It turns out a hotel has a dedicated PR agency on retainer.

We combined their professional reach with our authentic story. Just make sure you are in control of the narrative, everybody wins when it is a real and authentic story.

It’s important to realize that press is a form of B2B promotion and not B2C. Musketon had quite some press and doesn’t lead to more followers or shirts sales. What it does though is putting you on the radar of marketing managers of other potential partners.
  • The opening.

To host a party for a few hundred people without a budget is close to impossible. Luckily, with Aloft we had a partner with a lot of experience and all the infrastructure in place. There was even a built in DJ booth.

This is what you are looking for in partnerships. Somebody who takes away all the headache so you can focus on making it extra awesome.

Create something as equal partners, this way both parties will keep on giving.

A lot of the campaigns you see between talent and brands are out of balance.

  • Skewed to the side of the brand, where it is all about promoting a product. Imagine a soccer player on a billboard holding a soda pop.
  • Skewed to the side of the talent, where the talent trades being associated with his coolness for money. Imagine a “automotive brandname — rockband” world tour.

In either case, it is just not possible to transcend the initial campaign goals, because from the moment you make it bigger it will be unfair for one the parties.

Take the example of the soccer player, if the brand wants to put it on additional billboards he creates more value for the brand.

This is the big difference with the campaigns we try to set up at talentLAB, and this one between Aloft and Musketon. Each party wins when the expo gets bigger. This way you create a great atmosphere to collaborate in.

Modek rocking a Musketon crewneck with in the background the art work of his EP’s designed by Musketon.

How did this impact the brand value of Musketon.

Of everything we did so far, this campaign had relatively the biggest impact on the brand value of Musketon. A rough estimation would be that it increased tenfold.

  • We positioned Musketon as an artist and started selling his work as art.
  • We managed to leverage all the press we had ( radio, TV, magazines, newspapers,… ) in our B2B relationships, which lead to a campaign with MTV.
  • We invited all our contacts/partners to the opening, rekindling all those relationships.
  • Managed to significantly increase our pricing, because we were able to ask for 4 digit prices for his art work, this immediately also increased the value of the rest of his work.

My takeaways :

  • Learn what the goals are of your partner. Find a way how can you help them to achieve these goals.
  • Speak up. Without telling the other party what you need they won’t be able to help.
  • Find the assets that are cheap for them but really valuable for you.
  • Create something as equal partners, this way both parties will keep on giving.

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed it, would mean the world to me if you shared it with someone. :)



Toon Carpentier

Talent Developer currently at a one year sabbatical - Pushing people to make the most of their talent. Contact :