There is a lot of overlap and confusion in the classification of licenses.
Is Muhammad Ali a celebrity or would his licensees fall under sports licenses? Is Louisville Slugger® a corporate trademark licensor or a sporting goods brand? What about Snuggle®, the fabric softener icon? Is it a corporate trademark or a character license?
Brand licensing is all about quality, while character licensing is all about graphics.Â
If the consumer sees a Rolls Royce car or an air conditioner with the Westinghouse name on it, they have an assurance of quality for the item bearing the brand. Conversely if the consumer were to see the Puffalump™ name on a car or an air conditioner, there would be no expectation of quality. The name doesn’t support it. A Puffalump™ is a character (even though it was well executed).
Too many character properties represent themselves as brands when the consumer has no association of the property with quality.
This merely leaves consumers, along with retailers, confused. Does the Muhammed Ali name automatically represent quality merchandise to the consumer? Or does it represent the greatest fighter of all time? Does he know how to knit a quality t-shirt? Probably not. So the name has a celebrity base and not a brand.
Occasionally quality and graphics can meet when a strong brand like Snuggle® has an iconic graphic like the Snuggle® bear.
Once consumers see the Snuggle® bear, the quality association is made right away. While the bear icon is cute, the overriding message is quality. That quality is reinforced through feature and benefit packaging and marketing. With this, consumer’s pre-conceived notions of Snuggle®’s quality can be extended to a wide range of products from bedding to towels to air fresheners.
Just bear in mind quality. Without it, you don’t have a brand.