As demanding, experienced consumers hunt for the best of the best, it’s no wonder that brands are combining their respective core competencies into new and desirable products and services. A few recent examples from the world of branded brands: NIKE + IPOD Nike and Apple created the Nike+iPod Sport Kit (retailing at USD 29), which consists of a small sensor/transmitter that is placed in a running shoe and wirelessly connects to a receiver attached to an iPod Nano. With every step, the transmitter sends data to the iPod, which saves and displays time, distance, calories burned and a runner’s pace, as well as providing real-time audio feedback. Once a runner gets back to his or her computer and hooks up the iPod, collected data can be uploaded to nikeplus.com, where users can set goals, track their progress, and virtually compete with other runners. Nike is also selling special sports gear to further enhance the Nike+iPod running experience, including shoes with a built-in pocket for the sensor, and shirts that keep the iPod secure and headphone cords out of the way. W HOTELS + PUMA Appealing to consumers on the road, athletics brand Puma has teamed up with W Hotels to offer hotel guests a multi-layered fitness program. The partnership includes Puma’s Train Away sports apparel, which includes collapsible sneakers that have a storage compartment designed to hold guests’ key cards while they work out. Train Away products will be sold through the hotel’s W Stores. Other offerings include pre-loaded iPods featuring running guides. Outdoor running guides focus on history and landmarks, while an indoor guide, designed for treadmill use, gives training advice and information on city sights, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. W and Puma have also co-created custom-designed jogging maps. GORENJE + SWAROVSKI Gorenje, a Slovenian domestic appliances manufacturer, is taking the pimp-my-kitchen route by beautifying their products with Swarovski crystals. Gorenje’s Swarovski range of appliances includes refrigerators and freezers adorned with over 3,500 crystals, while the limited-limited version is covered in over 7,000 crystals. Charmingly described as “Tall and dark. A woman’s dream. Only that it has more jewellery than they do,” Gorenje’s fridge-freezers with Swarovski crystals are on sale in Slovenia, Russia, Romania, Serbia, and the UK (a Harrods exclusive). MORE Want more inspiration? Check out trendwatching.com’s briefing on branded brands. If you’ve recently spotted other interesting examples of this enduring trend, please leave a comment!