Licensed property over exposure

How To Avoid Licensed Property Overexposure

We’ve all seen this: a successful licensed property ends up on consumer products in every category. Sometimes the categories make sense, given the nature and attributes of the property; sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, this approach can do more harm than good. Extending a brand into as many categories as possible is never a good idea, as it dilutes its value and stature in the minds of consumers. When licensee partners aren’t carefully and selectively chosen, it becomes clear to consumers that the licensor is more concerned with financial growth than with building the integrity, strength and longevity of the licensed property.

This ‘overexposure’ tact is taken because too many of today’s licensed properties lack an expertly developed creative strategy. Typically, their licensing programs consist of the property logo and a handful of other design assets that the licensor ‘thinks’ the property embodies, making it obvious that research has not been conducted to uncover the key visual assets that differentiate it from all others. As a result, the property is reduced to becoming part of the visual noise at retail, lost in the shuffle of an over-merchandised marketplace.

Consider how over-stimulated consumers are at retail visually speaking; how can they be “trained” to focus on the licensed property when the property itself isn’t focused?

Just as with every other brand in the marketplace, it is the responsibility of the licensor and their design partners to mine the property’s equitable visual assets in an effort to develop an ‘ownable’ creative strategy – an aesthetic that distinguishes it from every other property in the marketplace. The goal should be to determine which of the property’s assets have the ability to function as common ‘visual threads’ that can tie the entire licensing program together by being infused into all key art, badges, patterns, border treatments, iconography and any other design elements associated with the property. Think: Littlest Pet Shop’s paw print icon, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles new animated series’ angular, gritty, paint-spattered graphic approach.

A well-executed licensing program style guide must then be developed to standardize the implementation of the creative strategy, making it clear to licensee partners how to create consumer products that represent the property in a more dedicated manner. The creative strategy and its standardization will then serve as a gauge for the licensor to determine which consumer product categories are most appropriate to pursue and which licensee partners will best align with the property. These better category and partner ‘fits’ will lead to stronger sales and alleviate the urge to head down a path to marketplace overexposure.


  • Which other licensed properties are effectively leveraging an ownable creative strategy?
  • What are some other benefits that result from establishing an ownable creative strategy for a licensed property?

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