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Why Collaboration Trumps the Lone Wolf


It’s easy to get stuck into a work routine and forget that there may be a better way.

In a world where new collaborations are born daily, how can your brand stand out in an increasingly crowded field?

In 2003 the arty New York designer Isaac Mizrahi shocked the world by releasing a small garment collection for — gasp! — the big-box retailer Target.

Today such collaborations are commonplace. Every day we watch as mega corporates ride the coattails of smaller niche companies. The establishment — no longer perceived as selling out — has readily accepted collaborations as a crucial part of corporate brand strategy. For smaller brands, the financial benefit is clear.

I love collaborating; it’s in my DNA. Bringing together two distinct groups in the service of a unique product or service makes sense. It helps to build a safety net of security and trust.

There is safety in numbers.

Working together as a pack can be more practical and effective than forging ahead as a lone wolf. Even if the group is unrelated, it’s often easier to build broad networks and establish long-term relationships when we pull together as a team. Collaboration is powerful.

Years ago, I was Director of Marketing at the iconic Sydney hotel, stunningly perched atop Sydney Harbour. Beautiful hotel, scenic location, with just the right amount of Aussie employee charm to boot. Why wouldn’t you stay there?!

Many did. Business professionals and travelers loved the Sydney Hotel. But our most profitable department — Meetings and Events — was struggling to perform. We tried everything to boost our bookings, but nothing worked. 

Our marketing budget was slim, so we needed to solve the problem without dipping into non-existent funds. 

Our team began brainstorming — it was an exciting time of creative enthusiasm. What we discovered is that we had been slogging and stumbling as lone wolves. But we were surrounded by an exciting network of businesses and brands that might just be willing to help.

We approached several potential partners. Initially suspicious of our intentions, they were at least willing to listen, and what we discovered was amazing!

They were facing the same issues we were — sizeable departments failing to thrive. If none of us were succeeding on our own, perhaps collaboration was the missing link.

The result was to create a shared neighborhood brand around the glorious Sydney Harbour. 

We all shared prime real-estate conveniently located within walking distance of each other. We all had megabrand personalities and had all been in business in the local community for many years.

Our Partners


The Sydney Opera House — is home to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. A 20th-century architectural masterpiece celebrated globally.

The Museum of Contemporary Art — the MCA. Home of one of the largest contemporary and Aboriginal art collections in Australia.

The Overseas Passenger Terminal — has been servicing the Sydney harbour since 1960. Notable moorings include Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Mary. 

Luna Park — opened in 1935 and is one of the few heritage-listed Art Deco amusement parks.

What an eclectic group of friends we were!

And so, our collaboration began with plans for several quayside events.

We booked larger events with our partners now able to handle the booking overflow. They happily shared their spaces, as they benefitted from new leads and clients. The solutions arrived as shared opportunities. We maintained our individual brand identities while our collective brand grew exponentially.

Associating the Sydney Hotel with these iconic Sydney brands made us relevant and trendy. People wanted to hang out and get invited to our parties. It was an extraordinary time to be a part of the Sydney Hotel. 

A surprising outcome of this collaboration is that the initial team is now scattered internationally, working for various hotel brands and organizations. I enjoy following their careers and marvel as they establish new collaborative partnerships. 

Unity is strength. Collaboration comes in many shapes and colours, and may cost you little more than passion, creativity, and elbow grease.

If you’d like to know more about collaboration or chat about ways to grow your business, please drop me a note. I’d love to chat.


Paul Rushton, Managing Director, Ion Consultancy

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