By Natasha Carter, global marketing manager, Vistex –
I recently watched a webinar put on by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) on “Reframing the Ways Brands Grow,” and it got me thinking.
What is a brand? It’s not just a product or a service any more. It can be a TV series, a political party, even a celebrity. Basically, anything that is an entity in its own right. It’s something that is valued. But how do you add value to something that is already valued?
By finding new ways to build engagement with consumers. The need for a brand to infiltrate a person’s life has never been greater. Smart brands realize they are more than a brand, that their brand is a story, and that stories are a proven way to integrate into people’s lives. Smarter brands are reinventing how and where they reach, not just who they reach. I’m not just talking about brand extension, but brand expansion and brand extrapolation.
Take the “Harry Potter” franchise for example. They don’t just make movies; they make characters. J.K. Rowling and the folks over at Warner Bros. have built an all-encompassing experience around that story. They’ve realized people touch and consume the brand in so many more ways, versus the historic one dimension.
Harry Potter, now isn’t just a mainstay in film, but in TV, theme parks, and consumer products. You want a Harry Potter make-up brush? You got it. You want a Harry Potter toilet seat? There’s that too. People are having Harry Potter themed weddings and newborn baby photoshoots. It’s no longer a brand, but an integral part of people’s lives.
This is a golden time for brand expansion. According to the Licensing University, “With an exploding international market, millennial shoppers opening their wallets at ever-increasing rates, and a digital landscape that allows for on-demand product fulfillment at lightning speed, there have never been more opportunities to achieve success in licensing.”
It’s a new era in licensing, and the future of the industry will inevitably be determined by the speed at which brand owners, retailers, and licensees fulfill rapidly changing consumer demands.
Perhaps it’s time to ask … is your licensing strategy getting as much attention as it should? In low growth environments, can you rely solely on organic growth? Probably not. Are you able to hit your targets within your current structure or do you need to reorganize and reevaluate your growth strategy? However, an updated approach alone won’t guarantee you financial success. If you are going to take market value to a new and exciting place, make sure you have the necessary backend applications and tools to get you there.
Oliver Herzfeld, the chief legal officer at Beanstalk, had some great advice in his article, How to Establish a World-Class Corporate Brand Licensing Program, on what you’ll need. Have resources “dedicated to licensing sales, licensee and retailer management, legal, finance, contract administration, royalty collections, product approvals and audits …develop and implement the necessary systems and tools which are critical to licensing program success, such as a brand asset library, style guide, licensee proposal form, deal term sheet, standard form license agreement, contract administration system and online product approval tracking portal … .”
It is indeed a new era. Consumers aren’t just expecting for a brand to infiltrate their world; they are actively seeking it out. If you want to be successful, you have to reframe how you grow. If you are ready to take your brand somewhere new, start by thinking more of growth through value. Make sure your brand licensing strategy is an indispensable story woven into the lives of consumers, and that you have the systems in place to support those goals.
Natasha Carter is the Global Marketing Manager at Vistex. Vistex’s robust licensing solution will manage licensing workflow, including sales, acquisitions, contract management, product approvals/guidelines, rights and royalties. License Maestro, the flagship enterprise application allows clients to make strategic portfolio decisions by tracking their agreements, exploiting/monetizing rights efficiently, and minimizing risks to their brands, while the automated processes reduce risk, time, and effort to ensure all monies owed from licensees or agencies are accurately reported. Click here to learn more.