The best licensed brands aren’t looking for just any opportunity. They’re looking for the right ones. Some licensed brand owners rush into relationships with consumer product brands without making sure that they’re truly great fits, which is why some partnerships are highly successful and others fail miserably. To ensure a great fit, we need to first consider the reason why licensed and consumer product brands decide to partner with each other in the first place.
Some licensing scenarios marry a highly recognizable licensed brand with a little known consumer product brand. In this case, the consumer product brand benefits from the equity of the licensed brand, and the licensed brand benefits from the licensing agreement as well as deeper category proliferation.
The ingredients for a great licensing partnership
But, what if an already well-established and highly successful consumer product brand enters into a co-branded partnership with a well-recognized and complementary licensed brand? This kind of partnership can create a new product offering with the benefit of an established pedigree on both sides of the table. Here, the true fit happens when each share common brand values and, even more importantly, appeal to the same target audience. These perfect co-branded partnerships often provide more value for the consumer and result in a competitive advantage in the marketplace and greater equity for both brands.
Once the perfect fit between licensed brand and consumer product brand is established, its success at retail will hinge upon great package design. Licensed products must be packaged in a compelling manner to ensure that consumers will understand the partnership at a glance. For lesser-known consumer product brands, the package design system for the licensed brand should drive the look of the packaging, which should adhere to the licensed property’s packaging program guidelines.
For co-branded licensed products, the proper balance should be achieved between the branding and package design assets for both brands so that the partnership will resonate with consumers in a way that makes sense. The appropriate brand hierarchy should always be determined by consumer shopping behavior within the category. For example, if a highly recognizable cereal brand is co-branded with an entertainment property, the cereal brand assets and design architecture should dominate the packaging so that consumers can locate the product easily within the cereal aisle.
Avoid bad licensing partnerships by asking these questions
It makes no difference how strong the appeal may be for licensed products. They can still fail in the marketplace. Consumer expectation is so heightened when licensed products are launched that, if the experience falls short in any way, it can torpedo expected sales and even do damage to both the licensed brand and the consumer product brand.
Is it a good marriage? Many licensed consumer products never take off because they mystify consumers. They simply don’t make sense. Even if they aren’t a perfect fit, there should be alignment among brand values.
Does the partnership add value? Even powerful brands can’t make magic if the consumer can’t justify the additional spend.
Can there be too much of a good thing? Some of the most dominant brands have lost their cache and customer base due to overexposure. Over-licensing can lead to serious brand dilution, which should definitely be avoided.