How to choose a Licensing Agent

Working with brands large and small, licensing agents are a key revenue partner for many companies, keeping their fingers on the pulse of trends, pop culture, and current events. They have market-specific expertise to help brands break into new territories with effective retail placement and pricing. Their expert knowledge in these areas can help you stay ahead of the curve with new trends and navigate unforeseen challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

A licensing agent is a typical solution for brands that are just getting started with licensing, experienced brands juggling multiple licensing programs, and companies looking to expand into new territories without an existing network. Agents take commission for their work, but the added opportunities are often worth the price. The key to a profitable relationship between your brand and a licensing agent is choosing the right person for the job. 

What does a licensing agent do?

A licensing agent helps your brand find appropriate licensees for your IP and negotiates contracts that lay out the guidelines for a brand partnership. Within that definition, there are many ways an agent can support your brand. When evaluating potential candidates, ask questions about the agent’s strengths, the brands they are currently working with and the different ways they can help you reach your brand licensing goals. 

Here are some common ways a licensing agent can help:

  • Identify licensees that are perfect for your IP and licensing strategy
  • Set your brand up for success in new markets
  • Negotiate lucrative contracts on your brand’s behalf
  • Help localize your brand’s story to the market
  • Connect you with appropriate manufacturers and retailers for your industry
  • Represent your company at trade shows
  • Manage licensing program details such as contract timelines, approvals, and marketing campaigns.
  • Aid in product approvals and quality assurance
  • Monitor the success of product launches 
  • Tracking and collecting royalty payments

Spotting trends and overcoming adversity

The pandemic forced trade shows to cancel, created supply chain issues, and catalyzed major shifts in consumer behavior, from the way they make purchases to the values they want to see brands reflect. Licensing agencies are well aware of these issues and have found ways to turn challenges into profitable deals for their clients.

For example, digital consumption has increased dramatically since the pandemic began. Savvy agencies have used this trend to work with streaming services to establish new licensing opportunities that didn’t exist before. Also location-based licensing deals often require on-site support and it can be challenging to manage these without having a local team on the ground.

How to work with the best licensing agent for your brand

Now that you know all the ways a licensing agent or agency can help your brand, the next step is to find one that’s a great fit for your product and team. 

Look for an agent or agency with experience with similar brands 

Licensing opportunities are available across a huge range of industries, so it’s important to look for an agency with experience in your particular area. Industry-specific expertise ensures that the agency understands your target audience and that their network of manufacturers is appropriate for the type of IP you want to license. 

When your agent’s experience aligns with your business, there’s less of an onboarding process needed. They can hit the ground running, reaching out to their contacts to find potential licensees without any wasted time learning the ins and outs of your industry or making new connections first.

Ensure they have a history of lucrative licensing deals

Experience alone doesn’t make a top-quality licensing agent. That experience has to be supported by a history of successful licensing programs. Check references from current and former clients to learn about what it was like to work with the agent and what results they achieved. 

Any reputable agent or agency will be happy to provide a list of references for you. If you encounter one who doesn’t want to share this information, take it as a red flag and move to the next candidate on your list.

Work with a licensing agent that “gets” your brand

A licensing agent presents your brand to potential licensees with the hope of landing profitable new contracts. They also collaborate with your team to keep your licensing workflows operating seamlessly and on schedule. To do these two things successfully, the agent needs to understand your brand’s core licensing needs as well as your company’s values.  

To determine whether a licensing agent really connects with your brand, imagine you are hiring them to work in your office as a traditional employee. You wouldn’t hire an employee who doesn’t have an understanding of your company’s product and culture, because they won’t be able to integrate with your team successfully. To ensure a smooth collaboration process and lucrative new brand partnerships, use the same standards that you apply to new hires to evaluate your licensing agent candidates.

Where to find a licensing agency

Check out the 2022 “Top Global Licensing Agents” report by License Global to find potential licensing agencies, and use the tips above to help you decide on the perfect agency to represent your brand licensing. Once you have a quality agency on your side, your brand will be poised for profitable new licensing opportunities and exceptional growth. 

Successful agencies including Lisle, Ferly, and Striker Entertainment manage their relationships with clients and licensees with industry-leading brand licensing software. Flowhaven software helps teams and agencies compose & share agreements, manage design approvals, and validate royalties within a single platform, for every licensing deal. 

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