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Alliance Development Process

It is critical to the continued strength and integrity of 3M's brands and trademarks that business alliances be managed in a strategic and consistent way. Effective communications management helps clarify relationships so that customers are not confused, and helps ensure the legal protection of investments and assets.


The term "business alliances" refers to a partnership between 3M and one or more other companies to market goods, services or an event. When we present 3M as part of a business alliance, it is important to follow the guidelines for appropriate presentation of 3M brands and its partners' brands. This section covers the identity standards for business alliances.

Determining the Type of Alliance

There are several kinds of alliances that 3M can enter into with another company. These include ingredient branding, licensed merchandise, sponsorships and third party relationships. Based on the objectives of the alliance and who is providing what, it is possible to determine which type of alliance is required. This chart below can help determine which particular business alliance is required.

Download Business Alliance Type (PDF, 40.6 KB)

When developing a business alliance, consider the following topics:

Evaluate the Opportunity

Now is the time to take a good hard look at the potential alliance. How does it fit with the long-term goals of each partner business? What might the impact be to their brand(s) and 3M’s brands?

Develop the Strategy

The alliance must be a long-term interest of 3M and the business unit involved. Be sure to consult your legal representative.

Negotiate and Secure the Agreement

Know ahead of time what you can negotiate as a part of 3M (e.g., which brands and what types of arrangements you're allowed to enter into). Contact your legal representative and the Corporate Department with any questions. Always remember that business alliances should be designed with periods for review at appropriate intervals, and must also contain a termination clause.

Manage Delivery

Make certain the delivery of goods and services is done in a manner consistent with 3M identity standards. Consider implementing quality checks throughout the process. Be sure that your alliance partner is complying with all relevant 3M identity guidelines. It is also a great idea to develop guidelines and standards specific to your situation. Contact Corporate Identity, Design and Communications with questions.

Measure and Evaluate

Take advantage of the periods for review to determine the impact of the alliance in terms of building 3M’s brands and meeting business objectives.