Among all licensing properties some lead the pack heavily. Internationally, character licensing is the largest, followed by brand, fashion and sports licensing; though music and art licensing is still small but soon gaining substantial ground. Properties that are currently being licensed in India are the traditional character licensing from popular television programs and movies. Some examples of brand licensing are Spykar, Lee & Levis. Some examples of sports licensing in India is seen through cricket team licensing, thanks to IPL and the high fidelity team owners. But what we really need to do is think unconventional and look at opportunities offered through licensing sentiments, art/artists, music, mythology and even exclusive photography. Licensing 'Sentiments' Few brands have successfully attempted to leverage the irreverent attitude of humans in a witty manner. One such popular lifestyle brand is Born to Shop. Born to Shop is targeted at today's woman, who is juggling a hectic schedule between work, play, family and friends. Humorous sentiments and quirky imagery provide a fun take on those key areas of everyday life including beauty, friendship, men, children and of course... shopping! Example, a mother identifies instantly when she sees a mug that reads 'You don't scare me, I've got children!' Or a gardener sporting garden gloves that reads ' Gardeners know all the dirt' or a regular working woman using a laptop bag that reads' I don't suffer from stress, but I am a carrier' or the party woman sporting a diary ' The years have been kind.... its the weekends that have done the damage ' Or a woman who is trying hard to stick to a diet using ceramics with a witty one liner ' By the time I am thin, fat will be in'! For the shopaholic in every woman some sentiments relate instantaneously such as 'I've shopped all my life and still have nothing to wear'. We all relate to these sentiments and will buy more and more of such merchandise to express ourselves in a fun and a witty manner. Licensing Photography Unique photography can be licensed too. One such example is 'The Dog'. The Dog is a highly successful puppy photography franchise from Japan. The Dog puppies are photographed at unique angles using a fish-eye lens to create a 'strange ratio' adorably enhanced image. The collection for The Dog consists of over 70 breeds of puppies and over 100,000 images. This property is very popular in products like calendars, mugs, gift sets, stationery and even china ware. The Dog appeals not to only kids or adults, men or women, but it is for anyone who has ever loved a puppy! Licensing Mythology Indian folklore has many stories to tell. But a few can own this. One such example is 'The Legend of Karna' by Vimanika. Vimanika has undertaken extensive research on Indian Mythology and has published many graphic novels with this very Indian content. Here Vimanika, a publishing property, and Indian mythology come together in a unique manner so that today's youth can connect with our mythology in an entertaining way. This can happen only in India! Licensing of such a property will however have to take the utmost care in terms of choosing the right products, the right strategy so that no one's sentiments get hurt. We can already see that just because a property is on TV or a movie does not always make it a licensing success. Fortunately this realisation is dawning here and there will be more brands independent of TV or movies making a foray into the Indian Licensing turf. A word of caution However, it is also important to launch brand extension in a category that is smart on associations, interesting, fun and sometimes even a little tongue in cheek. It is important to ensure that the licensed merchandise launched should not look like merchandise, which consumers expect to get for free for just being a loyal customer. Consumers should be able to recognise that the brand is reaching out in an unusual way. Maintaining a strong brand means striking the right balance between continuity in marketing activities and adopting the kind of change needed to stay relevant. Branding can never be stagnant, and the game is even more difficult when a brand spans many product categories. The mix of points of parity and point of difference that works for a brand in one category may not be quite right for the same brand in another category. It is important to note that all products and services that use a particular brand have an impact on its brand equity. Ultimately the power of the brand lies in the minds of consumers or customers, in what they have experienced and learned about the brand over time. Consumer knowledge is at the heart of brand equity.
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