Sep 3, 2019

8 Steps to Take Before You Secure Your Next Brand License

As a licensee, you know there is no better feeling than identifying the perfect license and successfully fostering a relationship with the brand’s owners from ideation to distribution. After all, every licensee wants to create unique, appealing and commercially successful licensed products. But, in order to find the perfect match, you need to understand the modern marketplace, assess your business, scrap your assumptions and invest in data solutions to secure ideal outcomes. Here, we provide tips for identify and securing the perfect brand license for your portfolio.

Understand the modern marketplace

Acquisition managers have spent years working to find new ways to identify the best properties for their portfolios. In the past, they choose properties with the highest commercial appeal, such as blockbuster movies and popular characters. But, the industry is beginning to buck tradition, in part, because there is an oversaturation of brands available for licensing.

Oversaturation has placed new pressures on licensees to find, and court brands that will resonate with audiences in new and more meaningful ways. But, as Andrew Lawrence, Licensing Director, Pyramid America advises, "Hesitate, and you lose.” You won’t be the only one racing against the clock. Everyone wants to secure the best and the "hottest" licensed properties.

Business operations have also changed. Many brand owners have begun to consolidate their operations by working with one or a few trusted partners across all categories. Meanwhile, modern are confronted with new retail models such as direct-to-retail (DTR).

To come out ahead, you’ll have to move both smartly and quickly.

Get to know yourself

Whether you’re a seasoned manufacturer with a large operation or an upstart working with new technologies, it’s important that you understand who you are and what you offer the public. Start with a quick audit: Do you cater to a specific demographic? Do you specialize in one product? Who is your competition?

Knowing where you stand will help you tailor your prospects and prepare yourself for the tough questions brand owners might ask before granting you permission to use their IP.

Research your prospects

As soon as you identify a brand that fits, you should conduct research on it. Understanding the brand’s origin, its message, the personalities, and corporate history, will help you during the negotiation process. Thorough research can also help you weed out brands that, while popular, may not be worth the risk.

Always think of the consumer

To truly understand the audience you're working with, you have to become a part of them. Get to know your consumers’ hobbies, their lifestyle choices, their social habits (including the social media channels they use the most), and their daily schedules. The more information you have, the more natural your licensed products will feel to them.

Don’t assume consumer tastes stay the same

Sometimes, when you've worked closely with specific groups, you begin to ascribe behavioral patterns to them, to the point of becoming biased. Your brand license choices and product development process can benefit from taking the time to ditch the outdated stereotypes and discovering new factors influencing your target audience’s purchasing decisions.

Don’t marry yourself to the style guide

Many acquisition managers believe that creativity is the brand owner's job. That isn’t always true. If you want to impress consumers and stand out, try combining your signature techniques with the style guide to produce a unique product that still mimics the brand’s voice and aesthetic.

Refine your image

In the digital age, brand owners interested in working with selective licensees will have to do a bit of peacocking, or presenting their best selves. Social media is one tool that can help. Difficult to fix, social media will show you how many people are interested in your brand, where they are from, what their interests are and if there is a good chance that your product will perform well at market. Social media drove above-average revenue growth this year in the music, sports, and celebrity categories each coming in with increases of 8.2%, 4.9%, and 3.4% respectively.

Consider a data solution

Technology is driving most of the changes at retail, so why not use technology to help you court and manage your relationship with new licensed brands? Consider investing in a solution that helps you collect data on your earnings and new prospects, review contracts, see style guide updates in real-time and manage the production pipeline with the click of a mouse.

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