Brand Licensing: How To Enhance, Promote And Protect Brand Equity
Friday, December 15, 2017
Moderator Kimberly Kociencki, CEO, SPLiCE, leads the brand licensing panel. From left: Kenneth Beaupre, Caterpillar, Inc.; Vera Tsekeris, HP Inc.; Joel Satin, Eastman Kodak Company; Manny Grace, The Walt Disney Company; and Toni Sdao, Whirlpool Corporation.
By Annie Yang
In the world of licensing, brand licensing is often underappreciated and undervalued. After attending the, "Brand Licensing: How to Enhance, Promote and Protect Brand Equity" panel at the 2017 LES Annual Meeting, it's apparent that brand licensing is critical for all businesses and more relevant than ever.
Brand licensing experts from various industries emphasized the importance of brand equity to their respective businesses.
Vera Tsekeris, Director of Brand Partnerships and Licensing for HP Inc., commented that the single most important factor in brand licensing is to align incentives of the licensor and licensee at the beginning of the relationship. HP's brand partnerships are most successful when the parties agree on metrics upfront, allowing HP to be #1 or #2 in all of their core categories. Manny Grace who is Associate General Counsel for the Walt Disney Company, the world's largest product licensor with over $56 Billion in retail sales and more than 7,000 licensees globally, said that licensing may be used to complement a business's core products or to compete. In either case, licensing facilitates further innovation and adds value whether or not it ends up in the market as a branded product.
Kenny Beaupre, Brand Advocacy & Licensing Manager for Caterpillar, Inc., added that their company has added in certain audit provisions to detect counterfeit products and protect their brand. Toni Sdao, Director of Licensing for Whirlpool, echoed the need for research and stability studies. Internally, the company would need to assess the technology, market size and growth, strategic fit, and timing. Manny added that Disney had product safety testing sites with very strict quality control standards. After all, brand owners may not be held liable from a strict products liability standpoint, but they could be liable as the apparent manufacturer and it's their brand's reputation on the line.
As the oldest and once dominant brand, Eastman Kodak was represented by Joel Satin, VP, Global Brand Licensing & Consumer Product Goods. They have an uphill battle as they got left behind in the digital revolution. Joel mentioned they still have active R&D in the film, print, and coating space and a new Super 8 camera in the works. For brand licensing, Kodak will be launching licensed apparel and they have plans to expand their global reach program beyond the current ten countries.
No matter the industry, all businesses need to rely on innovation and brand licensing to grow and maintain their brands. Successful licensors will do the pre-work and find alignment with their licensees, set up auditing and compliance systems, and plan ahead for future partnership and collaboration opportunities. But before a company is even able to out-license its brand, it needs to first establish itself as a valuable brand.