Interview by Samantha Loveday – LicensingSource.net
Since it was founded in 1985, the industry trade body LIMA has been at the heart of the business, supporting, nurturing and educating not just those within the licensing sector, but the wider business community, too.
But as the industry changes pace, so to must a trade body and in May, we were introduced to its new identity – Licensing International. Its core mission remains the same, however it has changed visual identity and how it articulates its mission to members and the broader business community.
Maura Regan, president, explains: “While our identity as LIMA has been an industry staple for those already in the licensing business, it’s also been somewhat confusing to anyone who didn’t already know us. The capital of Peru? That green bean?
“As we initially looked at merely refreshing the association’s identity, it became apparent that a total rebranding was in order. Our new identity as Licensing International is symbolic both of the changes that have occurred in the licensing business over the past three decades – for example, the rise of experiential and location-based licensing means that we’ve gone well beyond the word ‘merchandising’ – and of the future path the association will forge on behalf of our members.”
The organisation has undergone a complete visual and functional overhaul of its website, unifying its family sub-brands to support the mission such as Licensing University, MindMix and its webinars, as well as its various country-specific identities.
A bumper PR programme helped to communicate the refresh to members and the industry at large including a letter from Maura to current members, as well as press releases, trade ads and signage and branding at its Licensing Expo and Brand Licensing Europe stands.
Maura continues: “We decided on Licensing International after feedback on what our members believed we stood for and expected from us. We reviewed various options with our board of directors and the direction was fully supported.”
Maura explains that the brand marketplace is nothing if not dynamic, and it has to be at least as dynamic to be a valuable resource to its membership.
“There are so many on-going changes in the business – the rise of and brand protection issues related to ecommerce; big increases in such areas as experiential licensing, location-based entertainment and the licensing of services; the increasingly global nature of the business; the rise of influencers; corporate social responsibility, the increased importance of real time data analytics, to name a few – that we must constantly work to identify these and other trends, and give our members the tools and knowledge to deal with them.”
Ultimately, says Maura, brand licensing continues to be a “vibrant, effective tool for brand owners to develop, extend enhance and leverage their IP, and for manufacturers and service providers to use the equity of those brands in creative ways to boost their own businesses.
“And that’s not just us saying it – but is based on all the data out there,” she concludes.
Licensing International: At a glance
The licensing industry trade body has more than 1,250 member companies globally – this includes 120 in the UK.
There are 12 offices and representatives: Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, UK (offices), Canada, France, India, Italy and Russia.
“At our core, we strive to help our members succeed, and to promote the licensing business model to the community at large,” explains Maura.
“Whether in the US, UK or anywhere else among the 12 countries/regions in which we have offices and representatives, we’re committed to convening, designing and developing best in class events and programs to achieve those goals, whether for Young Professionals or the industry at large.
“We’re constantly looking for the most effective platforms – seminars, webinars, networking events or anything else – to get the job done.”
A guiding hand
The brand refresh for Licensing International was guided by Brand Studio CAA-GBG, with chief creative officer, Alice Ann Wilson, telling us that the team was honoured to work on the rebrand and strategy.
“It was important to the client that they put their members in the centre of future needs and communications solutions,” says Alice Ann. “We also heard from key stakeholders that licensing is ever evolving to a brand-first approach – in today’s world, product becomes marketing and experiences become content. It’s exciting that brands are leveraging the power of licensing for equity building in addition to revenue driving objectives. So the power of an international resource is as important as ever, as well as a forward-looking approach.
“The critical moment in the process was when the (LIMA) leadership and board considered all strategic paths forward and were pretty unanimous in supporting the idea of revolution over evolution – hence the decision to embrace a new name as well as branding.”
Alice Ann continues: “The name Licensing International is both strength and simplicity, setting the tone for an organisation that can deliver an unparalleled network of information and resources globally, while putting the importance of each individual member and each territory at the core of its purpose.”
Ultimately, the new brand identity is a “clean and modern visual system” says Alice Ann, which communicates Licensing International’s “commitment to innovation and thought-leadership within the industry”.