Co-branding is a very important and extensive aspect of brand management with many different facets. The contents of this new Identity Net chapter are listed below. The "Preliminary remarks on co-branding" and the "Introduction to co-branding" are definitely worth reading.

Any subtopics of relevance to your work can, of course, be accessed directly:


Preliminary remarks on co-branding
Introduction to co-branding – forms and definitions
Protecting our trademarked corporate and product logos in co-branding
Reference advertising
Strategic alliances or marketing collaborations
Innovation-based co-branding
Joint distribution activities
Collaboration with distributors, retailers and pharmacies
In- and out-licensing of technologies
Branding during sponsorships, including event sponsoring
Sponsored content
Branding within joint ventures
Transitioning of trademarks during acquisitions


Important preliminary remarks on co-branding

Our brands are important components of our corporate values. It is of highest interest for our company to steadily preserve, protect and enhance these values. In co-branding we allow the use of our brands by external partners. In such cases, improper trademark usage may weaken our brand value or ultimately lead to a loss of our trademark rights.


Co-branding is a significant expression of confidence in the respective partners, which must be justified by the careful and trustworthy handling of our brands. It is therefore essential that Bayer has the final say when it comes to the use of our word and design marks. That may sound obvious, but unfortunately it is not always the case. Our top priority is to ensure correct use and compliance with corporate design guidelines in order to ensure brand recognition and trademark protection. Only correctly used trademarks can be effectively protected and defended.


Our corporate brand, represented by the Bayer Cross, is often part of co-branding activities. As the Bayer Cross has a good signaling effect, extraordinary radiance, and is known worldwide, it is hardly surprising that many companies want to adorn themselves with it. The same is true of many of our product brands. They are on a par with our corporate logo, leaders in many market segments, and impressive because of their innovative character. This is why external partners often want to use them in their communication and advertising material – and why the same strict co-branding rules apply to the use of our product brands as to our corporate brand.


In this chapter we deal with both our corporate brand and our product brands in equal measure. With regard to trademark protection, the statements made apply equally to the product and the Bayer brand.


Whenever a Bayer trademark is to be released for use by an external company, written consent is required from the Corporate Trademarks of Bayer’s Legal Department and the Brand Management Department of Corporate Communications. Please contact:


Introduction to co-branding – forms and definitions

Co-branding is the most common application area where our trademarked corporate and product logos must be protected. A definition of co-branding, some examples, and all the relevant rules can be found below.



Co-branding is generally characterized by a combination of two or more brands that are collaborating in a way that is recognizable in the marketplace, sometimes creates a joint offering of goods or services, but does not affect their corporate independence.


Forms of co-branding

Co-branding involves the collaborative use of brands from two or more companies. At Bayer, the term co-branding is used for:


  • Reference advertising

  • Strategic alliances or marketing collaborations

  • Joint distribution activities

  • Innovation-based co-branding

  • Scientific sponsorship partnerships with research or academic institutions

  • Partnerships with and support for non-profits

  • Dealership collaboration / franchises

  • In- and out-licensing of technologies

  • Branding during sponsorships, including event sponsoring

  • Sponsored content

  • Joint ventures

  • Transitioning during acquisitions


Examples of co-branding

Co-branding can be fruitful in numerous ways

  • Access to new sources of finance

  • Greater risk-sharing capacity

  • Increased income through a larger customer base

  • Enhanced customer trust through their previous experience with one of the brands

  • Unveiling of technological benefits

  • Improved brand image through association with some other renowned brand


Co-branding drivers

Generally speaking, two or more companies come together to capitalize on the co-brand’s image and jointly offer a product with the intention of boosting sales by attracting both brands’ customers. At Bayer, co-branding may be implemented for economic or legal reasons, and the partners may well be very different. That is why we cannot provide any specific, one-size-fits-all CD guidelines or templates, but can support you with advice, approaches to co-branding, and examples of the different forms it may take. But first of all, a warning


Co-branding may well fail if …

  • Differing missions and visions lead to conflicts between the companies involved or between the company and an NGO, for example.

  • End users’ bad experiences with any one of the corporate or product brands negatively impact the other company, institution or co-brand.

  • For product brands difficulties might rise if the two or more product brands differ and cater for different market segments with entirely different product ranges.

  • Liabilities impacting one product brand put pressure on the co-brand.

  • One brand files bankruptcy with a resultant negative impact on the co-brand’s image. The same is true if one corporate brand has a more negative image or perception among the public than the other.


Protecting our trademarked corporate and product logos in co-branding

It is extremely important to ensure and enforce the correct use of our trademarked corporate and product brands and logos in all co-branding activities. Otherwise, Bayer’s outstanding image may suffer, and our market position could be undermined. Please consult the “Use of our trademarks by third parties” section.


General rules for co-branding at Bayer:

The image and reputation of the partner in question should be of such high quality that compatibility with Bayer’s image and reputation is ensured. After all, co-branding is intended to enhance Bayer’s brand image. However, if the wrong partners are chosen and/or co-branding is not done properly, the outcome may be irritation or, even worse, serious harm to Bayer’s image.


Hence, clear rules apply:


  • Brand fit: The brands involved must be a good fit.

  • Brand complementarity: The brands involved must complement each other in expertise terms so that perceptions of the co-brand are of relevance.

  • Product fit: The products of the companies involved must be a good fit.

  • Transfer fit: The brands involved must fit the product category or industry area of the co-brand.

  • Brand integrity: The brands involved should be of similar integrity.

  • Brand awareness: The more aware end users are of the brands involved, the more positive their perception and evaluation of the co-brand will be.

  • Brand relationship within the co-brand alliance: End users should be able to understand the relationship between Bayer and its co-brand partner(s).

  • Compliance with our Corporate Design rules mandatory. For more detailed information please refer to the Bayer Cross chapter and apply the rules in each case.

  • The legal regulations governing the use of our trademarks and the specific rules for their use by third parties must be observed. In each and every case a trademark license agreement has to be signed by Bayer’s Corporate Trademarks office.


If you have any further questions about this or any other section of Bayer Identity Net, please contact:

For more detailed information please refer to the Bayer Cross chapter and apply the rules in each case.


As a general rule, any potential co-branding activities must be reviewed in advance from a strategic, legal, and marketing perspective. That means that you must always consult Corporate Communications and Legal in advance of such activities. A specific consent declaration or a trademark license agreement drawn up by Corporate Trademarks is required in each case. Moreover, for the entire term of the co-branding agreement regular checks must be conducted on the validity and quality of the co-branding alliance.


How to approach any type of co-branding/co-marketing:




Reference advertising

Our business partners are very interested in using the name Bayer and the Bayer Cross to publicize the fact they are working with us. This is only allowed if explicit written consent has been obtained from Corporate Trademarks or Brand Management.


Basically speaking, third parties are not permitted to use the Bayer and Bayer Cross trademarks, and exceptions are only made after a thorough review. This is because the name Bayer and the Bayer Cross as well as our product logos are our company’s most important and valuable trademarks and therefore have to be handled with great care and respect.

In general, only third parties and suppliers who co-operate closely with Bayer (preferred partners) or where Bayer is a key client and it is Bayer’s intention to cultivate a substantive, long-term collaboration will be allowed to display the name Bayer and/or the Bayer Cross on their website. This right is mainly granted to Bayer’s key suppliers (e.g. main suppliers of software, raw materials, etc.), entities that are somehow sponsored by Bayer, or Bayer’s long-term co-operation partners. Just because some person or some company once worked for or with Bayer does not entitle them to use the Bayer trademarks.

Furthermore, as Bayer needs to strictly control the use of its trademarks by third parties, it would be a practically impossible task if numerous third parties were to use those trademarks. Moreover, product liability and image issues have to be taken into account as well. Incidentally, use of Bayer trademarks on a third-party website will more frequently be permitted than in brochures or promotion materials.

One important rule to remember is that only the Bayer Cross logo or the corporate logo featuring the Bayer Cross with Bayer may be used.

In each and every case, any request by a third party has to be thoroughly reviewed from a legal and branding perspective. If the outcome of the review is positive, Corporate Trademarks will issue to the third party a Consent Declaration regulating all the details.

Please contact Brand Management or Corporate Trademarks and have the following information ready:


  • The complete name and address of the partner.

  • Is it a well-known partner with a long-standing business relationship?

  • Is there a benefit for Bayer? The benefit for our partner is, of course, more evident and Bayer only benefits from the partner’s use of our logo if this is a really important business relationship. By accepting the partner’s request, we will be doing the partner a favor, which will strengthen that mutual relationship.

  • Where does the partner want to use our logo? On the website, in brochures, presentations, at sponsored events, at trade fairs, or in advertising? Generally speaking, the only use permitted will be on the partner’s website. Any other uses will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances. Moreover, we will need to see how the logo will be used on the website, i.e. we will need the URL and the exact place on the website where our logo is to be used.

  • Please check if the company in question works with our competitors as well, and whether and how the company uses competitors’ logos.


A Consent Declaration will only be issued for a period of three years and can be easily terminated.


References – how our company trademarks are used by third parties:

Strategic alliances or marketing collaborations

In the context of partnerships and collaborations with other companies, e.g. for purposes of joint development and marketing of products or joint promotional activities, co-branding can be useful (brochures, websites, etc.). In such cases our brands are used in addition to the names or brands of our partner. Here too, approval from Brand Management and Corporate Trademarks is required in advance.




All rules detailed in this section also apply to pharmaceutical collaborations. The basic details of the forms of collaboration in the pharmaceuticals’ field are described on this Bayer website:


Innovation-based co-branding

Innovation is often based on cooperation and on two or more separate companies teaming up to develop or launch a new product, service or application. This is the case, for example, when Bayer collaborates with the producer of a technical device that uses the reputation and high profile of Bayer products. To promote innovation both partners’ brands are usually featured. Teaming up for R&D, development or co-branding often enables innovation to be marketed faster and more effectively than could be achieved by one company alone. However, it is very important that any website, means of communication or other material clearly identifies whose product does what and who is the promising what. Clear branding rules are the basis for this clarity.




Joint distribution activities

To market Bayer products more efficiently and widely, Bayer often teams up with other innovative companies, for example to develop common technical solutions and finally ensure efficient and professional distribution. The partners bundle their marketing activities for one or more products or services in order to reduce costs, access new markets, or jointly promote a new technology or system.

One typical example would be where two products – a seed variety and a crop protection product – from two different companies, Bayer being one of them, are marketed by a third company or a dealer who has a license to do so.

Other examples of joint distribution activities can be found here:


Collaboration with distributors, retailers and pharmacies

Bayer successfully markets many of its products through Bayer-approved distributors. A separate trademark license is not required for selling and marketing original Bayer products through these Bayer-approved distributors. However, if the products are repackaged or relabeled before sale, and our trademarks are used on the packaging/label, a separate trademark license is required. Please consult Corporate Trademarks

To avoid any misunderstandings, distributors are not permitted to use our trademarks except on material produced by Bayer. This is also true of the design or installation of Bayer trademarks at a point of sale – inside and outside of buildings. It is especially important that our brands are used correctly at the points of sale. The Corporate Design rules always form the basis for such applications and have to be applied correctly, as described in Bayer Identity Net.

The use of our trademarks by a distributor on its own material is considered to be “reference advertising” and has to be legally reviewed and explicitly authorized by Corporate Trademarks or Brand Management.

Moreover, any co-promotion with distributors or other partners where both the distributor’s and our trademarks are to be used will only be permitted if a detailed trademark license agreement is signed. As handling such a collaboration or co-promotion is a complex business, please ensure start-to-end planning, management, and implementation through the entire process. Trademark and brand protection are one important element of this process. In that context, it is not only a question of the correct usage of our logos but also of how the collaboration in question supports our brand values and reputation.


Cooperation activities may take the form of:

Co-advertising: Two or more brands cooperate for joint advertising or a joint promotion during which both will be recognized as two separate brands.

Co-events: Two or more partners co-organize and co-finance an event for the same or joint target audience.

Co-marketing: Two or more partners bundle their marketing activities for a product or a service in order to reduce marketing costs.

Neither the Bayer Cross nor our product trademarks may be used on the business cards of distributors, dealers, or other external partners. We would ask you to always consult Corporate Trademarks and Brand Management if you receive a request concerning business cards from an external partner.


Cooperation at the point of sale (POS):




Cooperation on online market places (OMP):

The Bayer Cross and the company name Bayer must also be used correctly on online market places (e.g. TMALL in China or Orbia in Brazil). If there are flagship stores for Bayer products on such online marketplaces, care must be taken to ensure that the product trademarks and the Bayer Cross are used properly and in line with the guidelines detailed on Bayer Identity Net. Corporate Trademarks has to grant authorization in writing for such uses.


Views of three flagship stores (Tmall/ (“Tmall Global”) and to Orbia in Brazil) are given below:

In- and out-licensing of technologies

In the Bayer context, ingredient branding or better the in- and out-licensing of technologies is defined as any reference to Bayer products, traits, or the use of Bayer trademarks on customers' products that have been developed with the help of our products or traits. In- and out-licensing of technologies can be used as an active marketing tool, but such co-branding is subject to strict, clearly defined rules. It is essential to ensure that co-branded products do not create irritation or uncertainty for customers and promote rather than damage the brand image of Bayer and our high-quality products.

Since the high-performance product/trait in question is a part of our customer’s product, we have thus entitled them to use our trademark on their product and communications material. This is a sign of the high degree of confidence Bayer has in the respective business relationship, and we expect that the respective business partners will pay this back with the respectful treatment and use of our brands.

Whatever the usage, we must prevent any harm being done to our brand values and reputation. This can only be realized through clear rules that have to be taken into consideration during the preparation and closing of such a cooperation agreement.


Rules for using the Bayer, product, trait, seeds brand or branding logo in a co-branding partner's promotion material:


  • The promotion activities must be approved by Bayer and detailed in a Trademark License Agreement provided by Corporate Trademarks.

  • While the partner’s products may use a specific ingredient branding logo, which in each and every case will be provided by Brand Management and Corporate Trademarks, it is also possible to use one of our product wordmarks in promotion material. Details will be provided in the Trademark License Agreement after Corporate Trademarks has assessed the legal situation.

  • Furthermore, our trademarks are only to be used in their registered form, i.e. with no modifications, declinations, plural endings or hyphens, and should not be combined with other words. This is to prevent our brand from becoming a name for a whole product category since it could thus become invalid and would no longer be legally protected. Detailed information is available in the Brand Strategy/Trademark (link) section.

  • The cooperation partners must be informed about and comply with the Bayer Corporate Design guidelines since this is the only way of ensuring that the end users understand the relationship between Bayer and its partners.


Examples of in- and out-licensing technologies and the related branding:




Branding during sponsorships, including scientific sponsorship and event sponsoring

Corporate sponsorship is becoming increasingly important, particularly as many socially significant projects or organizations depend on additional sources of financing.

Bayer is involved in a wide range of projects around the globe, because that is an effective way of enhancing the emotional ties to Bayer or Bayer products among the general public and specific target groups. More information on scientific sponsorship and sponsorship of non-profit organization can be found below. Please also check out the design rules and examples in the section on sponsorship.


Scientific sponsorship

Partners often like to indicate that Bayer is sponsoring an event or supporting an institution financially. In such cases, the partner will request a logo so that Bayer can be presented on the website or on event material. This is a form of reference advertising. In cases such as these, only the Bayer Cross may be used. No product logo is permitted.

A formal trademark license agreement is not usually required. A written consent declaration from Corporate Trademarks or Brand Management will be sufficient.

In individual cases the use of our company name and/or the Bayer Cross will already be comprehensively covered by the Sponsorship Contract. Corporate Trademarks has standard clauses that should be used. If the partner provides this Sponsorship Contract, please make sure that our standard clauses are used and contact Corporate Trademarks if in doubt.

Before undertaking any sponsorship, please contact Corporate Communications to discuss the benefit of the sponsorship for Bayer. Please also check out the Live & Experience Branding section of Identity Net.

If this sponsorship is considered beneficial and approved by Corporate Communications and the Sponsorship Contract does not contain the standard clause regarding logo use, as mentioned above, please contact Corporate Trademarks or Brand Management before sending the Bayer Cross to any external party. Corporate Trademarks will review the Sponsorship Contract or provide you with a Consent Declaration that clearly defines how the external partner may or may not use the Bayer logo. However, if the Sponsorship Contract already contains the standard clause regarding logo use, you do not need to contact Corporate Trademarks.


Please carefully think about the benefits of Bayer becoming


  • A lead partner / lead sponsor or

  • An equal partner or

  • A minor partner


And negotiate your branding presence accordingly (i.e. lead sponsor = prominent branding, large Bayer logo vs. minor partner = less prominent branding). The main objective in co-branding activities is for Bayer to be properly recognizable. Even in combination with other brands, Bayer must always have an appropriate and visually attractive image in line with our CD rules.

In the event of partnerships with many different and equally important partners, please aim to have the partners mentioned in alphabetical order. Also, please consider using the Bayer Cross with the Bayer name next to it for guaranteed visibility in case the logo area for each partner is supposed to be of equal size.


Bayer as an equal partner among various partners


Bayer as an equal partner of two


Bayer as the minor partner of two


Bayer as the lead partner of two




Partnerships with and support for non-profits

Through globally operating corporate foundations the Bayer Group provides funding for leading-edge research, talented individuals, and innovative educational and social projects. As we are proud of our partnerships and our support for non-profits, we like to ensure that our partners, our employees, and our community are aware of our engagement through adequate branding.

All the rules explained under “8. Scientific sponsorship” apply here as well.

For further information please see the respective internal and external websites:







Example of an external cultural sponsorship:




Sponsored content

Sponsored content is editorial content that is financed by content that aims to communicate advertising messages without using conventional advertising formats. If such content is useful, users will share, like, or retweet it. Two typical examples of this type of cooperation are advertorials and native ads.

An advertorial is a form of advertisement in a newspaper, magazine or a website which provides information about a product in the form of an article. The brand owner usually pays the publisher for such an article (= paid or sponsored content)

It is important to note that as a rule, most publications print the word "advertisement" in small letters at the top or bottom of an advertorial. Some newspapers or magazines may decide to push these advertorials in special sections.

Native advertising is the use of paid ads that match the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. Native ads are often found in social media feeds, or as recommended content on a web page. Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads do not really look like ads. One of the most common forms of native ads are Google ads. Please also consult our rules for branding in social media.




Branding within joint ventures

The names of both companies involved can be used in a joint venture. It is also possible to have a new, shared company name for the joint venture. The design chosen will always depend on the individual case. As the strength of the partner company, the country involved, and the legal and regulatory provisions may vary, there is no generally applicable rule for branding joint ventures. Brand Management and Corporate Trademarks must approve the co-branded name or logo of a joint venture (for internal use only) and a written Trademark License Agreement must be concluded.


Transitioning of trademarks during acquisitions

When an acquisition occurs, the brand image of the acquired company must be repositioned. Various issues arise during this process: How rigorously and quickly should the new brands – the company brand and the company’s product brands – be repositioned as part of the Bayer brand? How rigorously and fast should the existing product brands be transitioned into existing graphic systems for Bayer product brands? Are there transitional periods in which the old brands and their image are to be preserved?

There are no generally applicable rules in such cases. Brand Management and Corporate Trademarks share the responsibility for the respective process and decisions