In a conversation I had recently with a prospective client, I was asked what the potential revenue generation would be if they were to invest a particular dollar amount on a licensing program style guide for their brand. Initially, I found this inquiry to be peculiar. But, given the fact that this potential client’s brand is a highly recognized global icon, and fairly new to the world of consumer product licensing, I understood why they were asking.
I then began to wonder if this issue is often pondered by other brand licensors before they embark on the adventure that is style guide development. Surely ROI is a consideration with every business initiative. Those new to the licensing game are even more likely to need further assurance before making the spend. But, is it possible to tie a specific amount of revenue generation to a style guide?
The true purpose of a licensed brand’s style guide
In my opinion, a style guide doesn’t generate revenue for a brand, it provides value. Its purpose is to ensure brand consistency through standardization of all visual assets and design elements, allowing the licensor to take control of how the brand is represented in the marketplace. A well-conceived licensing program style guide will be viewed as a valuable tool by licensees. By having a style guide in place, potential partners will see that the licensor has taken the time to establish a visual aesthetic for the brand, to which all licensees will need to adhere. It will also suggest that their products will benefit from the overarching brand standardization that will result. They’ll know that consumers will be able to immediately recognize their licensed products at retail, regardless of the product category, because they will all share the same visual aesthetic established by the style guide.
Additionally, a style guide is a vehicle through which a brand can leverage trends, ensuring that the brand is always fresh and relevant to its target audience. Without a style guide in place, your brand can only be presented to licensees as a series of existing visual assets (i.e. an identity system, a series of images, a few icons, etc.). When a style guide is instituted, trend themes can be continuously uncovered and leveraged to keep existing imagery fresh through new interpretation. Let’s imagine, for example, that a particular brand’s asset library consists of only a small handful of images. Without establishing trend themes as part of the style guide, those images will become stale over time. The concept of periodically uncovering new visual trends to leverage in the creation of new design elements allows for reinterpretation of those same few images with a fresh, new visual appeal.
Lastly, a style guide can become a powerful sales tool if it includes product renderings showing the licensed brand’s visual assets applied to products within potential licensees’ categories. During the sales process, product applications will help licensees envision the brand coming to life on their products, which may very well inspire them to enter into an agreement.
Although a style guide can assist brand licensing sales and marketing teams in establishing new licensee partnerships, it is truly the onus of these teams to generate revenue for the licensed brand.
- What are your thoughts on the value of a licensing program style guide? Can its value be quantified?
- What other value does a style guide provide for a brand that I haven’t identified?