I recently returned from Licensing Expo, the largest trade show for owners and buyers of character properties and brands. As the licensing industry evolves to keep up with a flood of content and the fragmentation of media, what is the evaluation process for new ideas and new properties?
While content remains paramount when evaluating a property, the industry is now relying more on “engagement.” That is, how engaged your followers are with the property. It wasn’t too long ago when the litmus test for property viability was about reach and frequency. Now that social media business models have figured out how to sell page views and boost posts, that metric has stepped aside in favor of engagement – likes, re-tweets, shares and so on.
When you strip away the veneer of big studios, and the giant budgets of entertainment brands, what are the common denominators for properties trying to break through? Here are four main themes that run true to both character and art properties:
- Engagement is key in a way that has meaning. Does your story or art connect with the end user?
- Authenticity is essential. Is the property is relatable and identifiable?
- Content should be applicable across multiple platforms. Traditional properties should not overlook new media and vice versa.
- Above all, tell a good story.
While there is no surefire formula to success in licensing, look around and you’ll see these benchmarks apply equally to properties that have stood the test of time and to new properties that are just being discovered.