Today, it seems like every recognizable brand has expanded its licensing program in new and diverse ways. That’s why your favorite candy brand is featured on pajamas and your favorite sports brand is taking up space in the bedding aisle. You may be tempted to expand your brand and reap the benefits of a marketplace obsessed with the idea of seeing their favorite IP in new places, but you’ll need to do a thorough assessment of your brand first.
To start, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are consumers purchasing my brand’s core products?
- Has my target audience expressed an interest in licensed products?
- What type of licensed products would complement my portfolio?
- Would my brand’s expansion satisfy a need in the marketplace?
If your answers to the questions above were positive, you’re ready to take the next step. Remember that brand expansion is a time consuming and costly process that should enhance your core brand and help consumers establish deeper connections with your IP.
Below, we discuss the three qualities a brand must have before expanding through licensed products.
There is a reason why comic book universes perform well: world-building and storytelling are critical to the engagement and retention of fans. A great story (or interconnected storylines) give customers reasons to buy products or services, expand their interests beyond the core product, and manage their expectations for future launches.
A great story is unforgettable, in fact, recent research has shown that stories are 22 times more memorable than information delivered as facts. Well crafted, catchy narratives won’t just stick in consumer’s minds, they’ll help them establish emotional connections with your brand.
Strong Brand Identity
Pete Canalachio, President, Licensing Brands and author of Expand, Grow, Thrive: 5 Proven Steps to Turn Good Brands Into Global Brands Through the LASSO Method, teaches us that brands need to establish a clear identity if they want to succeed. Brand identity describes the visual elements of a brand including the logo, colors and designs that help distinguish the brand in customers minds.
Today’s consumers are deeply invested in strong visual branding. Just look at the apparel sector, where clothing, shoes and accessories that feature prominent branding are in high demand. If you can develop strong visual assets that appeal to fans, a market will appear.
In today’s marketplace, consumers want to feel like they are having unique experiences at all times. To court new customers and to get them excited about your brand’s expansion efforts, you must make them feel like they are being offered something no other company can give them. This will help you build long-lasting, trustworthy relationships. Try personalizing your core-product, speaking to issues only people in your target demographic understand or other tactics and the brand will resonate with them more deeply.
Consumers will be excited at the idea of purchasing goods that allow them to take the feeling of being home with them. You can also use those feelings to launch additional product lines later on or to launch large-scale experiences like pop-ups, live events, and activations that reinforce your company’s unique value proposition.
The good news is that we are living in a time where brand expansion is highly valued and celebrated. However, brands interested in expansion should ask themselves why they are expanding and who they see their expansion serving. Companies that do not thoroughly examine their core brands and desires to expand, run the risk of investing in new product lines that fail and ultimately undermine their core business.
Be careful, if your brand has attracted a strong following quickly, it can be easy to assume that consumers want to see the brand in all categories. While that may be true for select properties, it’s better to focus on expanding within one category that will enhance the brand’s popularity and then expanding in new ways later on.