It has been said that consumers vote with their wallets. Their votes are now being cast for brands that engage and entertain; that create rich environments in which they can share experiences with like-minded fans. Entertainment properties are already in the forefront of engagement. The question is: How to maximize their potential via licensing?
We’re all consumers of entertainment. As such, we become emotionally attached to our favorite properties and immerse ourselves in all things related to our favorite characters. We absorb all that we can about their backstories and we’re enthralled by their latest adventures, hanging on their every move. Through the multitude of media available to us, we are able to intimately interact with these properties to our hearts’ content. Transmedia storytelling – the telling of a single story across multiple traditional and digital platforms and outlets – helps advance narratives in small extracts to build a complete, branded entertainment experience. As a result, a vast amount of content is generated, which we as fans can uncover and enjoy on demand. We no longer have to wait for the next episode, issue or feature film to advance the storyline.
This increased interaction leads to stronger relationships between brand and consumer. It also has the power to elevate an entertainment brand to lifestyle status. Although the entertainment industry is brimming with global behemoths, smaller, lesser-known entities have the ability to introduce properties with much success given the exposure that can be achieved through the reach of the Internet and social media. There aren’t nearly as many obstacles preventing properties from entering the marketplace as there had been in the past. However, every property must still be managed with strategy, planning and sound marketing principles.
Licensing creates an emotional connection with a brand’s consumers
Licensing is what makes entertainment properties come alive for consumers. The opportunities to reach an engaged audience through licensing are endless. Yet, the success of every entertainment property in the consumer product marketplace is contingent upon a well-conceived and expertly designed licensing program being in place. If developed properly, a property’s licensing program style guide will establish a unique and ownable visual aesthetic, then show how it can be infused into every brand asset and design element – regardless of season or trend. It’s what gives both product and packaging the power to emotionally connect with the property’s devoted fans at retail and online, motivating their decision to buy.
When developing an entertainment property’s licensing program design, research uncovers which visual cues are central to the property and which elicit the strongest emotions among its fans. These visual cues create desire and bring all of the pleasure associated with the property to consumers’ attention in a compelling manner. Consideration must be given to how these visual cues are leveraged regardless of product category. So the property’s licensing program style guide should include examples of how brand assets and design elements might be implemented in the form of consumer product design across key categories. The property’s packaging program design, with examples of various formats, should also be included.
Other considerations in entertainment property licensing
Entertainment property licensing program design should consider not only product and packaging, but the entire retail experience as well. Not every licensed entertainment property is afforded the luxury of a store-within-store ”boutique” environment. Therefore, it’s paramount to ensure that there’s instantaneous recognition among fans. Consideration should be given to point of sale materials and how they can complement the property’s product and package design to create the most engaging retail experience possible.
No matter how hot an entertainment property may be, bear in mind that it’s success and longevity in today’s licensing landscape is directly related to the quality of its licensing program design.