advice on character licensing

As I have mentioned previously on this blog I would love to license some of my character designs, and while I keep on trying have not quite managed it yet. I put a tweet out asking for advice on licensing character designs out and via my other twitter handle @ideasuploaded I got a very helpful response from @FWD_LB (forward licensing). Abdel Boazzati from Forward Licensing told me to email him with my questions and he would be happy to give me some advice. I asked him if I could share his response on my blog to help others and he agreed.

I sent Abdel some of my character designs and asked him the best way to present them:

Defining the Characters and Brand

1. Demographics: define for each character target ages, gender (eg. Boys 4-8yrs old), have a 1sheet of each character

2. Lifestyle: define activities of the characters in terms of activities, interest and opinions (can see that you have done that with your main characters)

3. Define each character with a human personality to make identification and or aspiration easier.

4. Define the overall brand through some of the main brand differentiators: sincerity, excitement, competence and sophistication.

Once you have done the above it will be easier to define which categories and licenses you want to get into.

Categories for Licensing Characters

There are roughly 6 main categories available for licensing:

  • Toys
  • Softlines (eg Apparel)
  • Hardlines (eg personal care)
  • Retail
  • Publishing
  • FMCG (fast moving consumer goods)/Promotional deals.

The main drivers for a licensed program are toys and softlines (typically 60% of revenues of licensing is done in these 2 categories) so it will be easier to approach companies in these categories once you want to start marketing your brand.

In terms of presenting your character designs, you can chose to go down 2 routes:

Either you:

1. Put together what is called a styleguide

Which means you put a document with high res images together which has the following: different designs of character, background, packaging, fonts to be used etc. This means you will be able to keep a closer control on how the brand is treated.
All the big licensors work like this except see below.


2. Just put some basic characters together

Just put some basic characters together and leave the licensee to be creative with your brand, of course keeping to the brand dynamics and staying faithful to its core qualities. The biggest licensed brand works like this: Hello Kitty. You will get more creativity you can use for your other licensees but you need to keep a closer look and give more detailed briefs to your licensees.

Create Mock-ups of your Character Designs on Products

In all the cases, if you are going to present to a licensee the best thing to do is do a mock up, eg if you are presenting to an underwear licensee make some mock ups on how the brand can be visualised on the garments.

Animation shorts are not necessary, eg there is no TV series of Hello Kitty but it can help to get more deeper in what the brands wants to transmit.

FWD Licensing and Branding’s Mission is: first and foremost to nurture your brand and understand its strengths in order to unleash its full potential. We do this by extending or licensing your brand, while keeping its core values intact – introducing it into new categories, new lines and new targets to ultimately conquer new retail space. We have the capacity and experience to create a vast array of new opportunities for business that would otherwise remain untapped. EXTEND your brand ACCELERATE your growth