Mickey, Luke, McQueen and Charlie are billion dollar brands. They’re characters who generate billions of dollars in retail sales. Pick the right one and it can be a winning formula for increasing your sales.
What makes a character property a licensing success? There is no specific formula, but there are a number of characteristics that can make it a successful property.
The first is characters and a story line that resonates well with the viewer. In the case of kids, it lets them extend the characters into their own play activities, such as as dressing up like the characters, or recreating the story line in some form, such as dressing up or collecting the characters.
Exposure is one of the most important things that makes a character licenseable. Movies and TV shows are concentrated marketing that exposes the characters to millions of viewers. It drives the potential for big merchandise hit because these forms of media generate significant consumer exposure. The internet and digital technologies such as virtual worlds, online games, apps and social media sites offer options to traditional media for creating market recognition.
The viewer needs to have an emotional connection with the character. They are able to create a bond between themselves and the character. A good example of this is Snoopy. People relate to his alter egos and hidden talents, or Homer Simpson and how he struggles with mid-male-life.
Does the character share an interest with the viewer? This could range from planes and trains to fashion and make-up. The character itself can even become the object of association – for example, people who like cute/whimsical may be drawn to licensed characters such as Miffy, or kids who like trains are attracted to Thomas.
It really helps if the character is loveable, nice and witty – all the same reasons why you may choose to be friends with a person. Successful characters such as Winnie the Pooh is crying out to be loved, which is its main appeal.
While nothing is a sure thing, keeping these characteristics in mind when licensing a character property offers the best possibility for success at retail.
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Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.