Hi I’m Alison from Influential Design in Worcester. The point of my blog is for me to share hints and tips on all things graphic design with you!
My blog today is focusing on a specialist type of graphic designer that creates designs for Licensed product and packaging, which is a niche kind of graphic design.
What is a brand license designer I hear you say?
These are the graphic designers beavering and creating designs using a popular brand that has been licensed to a company or business. You probably have some of these products at home especially if you have children, this can be apparel, toys, books and so much more.
A brand license is usually created for successful tv shows, films, children’s licensing, popular brands and sport brands. You will have heard of Disney, Nickelodeon, Fox, BBC, Nike, Harry Potter and so on, well these are all licenses that are purchased and applied to product.
How do I go about designing product & packaging with a brand license?
Many businesses use their in-house graphics team to create designs for these licensed brands, but if you have not done this before it can be a minefield. I believe it’s best to use an expert…good licensed graphic designers are few and far between and learning the process can be difficult, but I can help you here as I have over 20 yeas in this area, see my specific web page here
Once you have bought your brand license and agreed terms you will usually be handed a style guide for the license. These guides can vary depending on the license. You may need to download files from a portal or be handed files via a system such as drop box. In some cases the guidelines will be very strict, and in other cases you will be able to create as much content as needed, this will very much depend on the license, however all your designs will need to go through an approval process. If you do not get your designs right first time you may need to submit your designs several times before launch.
Can any Graphic Designer work on licensed designs?
Yes, however employing a specialist brand license designer can speed up the process. These designers are used to working with you the customer and with the licensing house and can therefore complete the process quickly. There are usually many stages and hoops that have to jumped through to get your designs approved and to market, so the right graphic designer can take the stress out of the process.
Do not just badge slap!
You can tell the graphic designs where a product or a range has been badge slapped. Do not do this if you want your product to be really successful and sell to your consumer. Your graphic designer needs to think of the range as a whole, composition, colour and patterns, plus consistency whilst also creating interest with a design. Will the product jump off shelf, how does your product sit within a range of other companies designs in store.
What is the approval process?
Once you have created your fantastic designs you will usually need to follow the below steps…It may be necessary to discuss direction with the licensor prior to starting the work to understand which styles are popular in the current market.
1. Submit concept designs and approval form to licensor via a portal or email. This approval stage usually takes around 2 weeks, if you have a range of products or packaging it is best to submit altogether.
2. The licensor will send back comments on your designs and advise if it is approved and you can move to next stage or if you need to make changes.
3. The next stage depends on the Licensors process as this may differ, you may need to submit flat artwork or printed pre production samples for approval.
4. Once you have the green light on your pre production sample you can proceed to production and get selling in store!
What can a Licensed Product and Packaging Designer produce?
An experienced Graphic Designer for licensed products can design, develop and help you through this process. You may be luck and find a Graphic Designer that may have helped the licensor create the brand development or style guide creation. You should be-able to expect your chosen designer to be-able to design product plus be-able to visualise your product for presentation purposes. As well as designing the product your designer can produce concepts and artwork for packaging, in-store merchandise (such as point of sale or free standing display units). The more EXPERT Graphic Designer will be-able to create cutting forms, help with project management through to approval and help you with international printing and can help you with licensing design process from start to finish.
Who is the Licensor or the Licensee?
We all get way too caught up in our titles when it comes to art. So, in addition to all your other possible titles—designer, illustrator, cartoonist, painter, photographer etc you can now add “Licensor.”
I swear it took me years to get straight which one was which. Who is the Licensor or the Licensee? So here’s the breakdown of “Licensor” vs “Licensee.”
Licensors are “them”—the originator and owner of the brand. They are the original creative image makers, the holders of The Intellectual Property (IP). These businesses maybe Fox, Nickelodeon, BBC, Nike, Coca Cola, Disney and so on.
Licensees are “us”— the company, the product manufacturer, the entertainment provider, and the middle man between us and the retailer who provides the consumer with our product or entertainment content.
Tradeshows for Licensing
As a tip if this is a new area for you. I would highly recommend going to trade shows. There are specialist Licensing shows around the UK and World. You will be-able to see many licensors in one room and choose the best license for your product. Get talking to Licensors and find out what is trending. Remember not all brand licenses work for every product so be selective on your chosen brand!
Have a look here: www.brandlicensing.eu, www.licensingexpo.com
My Final Tip
Using the right Graphic Designer for this specialist design work is key, if you have a pitch it is important to get it right as this may be your only opportunity. I have over 20 years experience and I would love to work with you on your licensed products and packaging
I have created over the years licensed style guides and produced designs for:
sticker and colouring books, board books, novelty books, gift sets, toys and games, toiletries, apparel, wheeled products and bikes, food and drink, stationery, craft, tablewear, mobile tech, homewear and more.
More reads and magazines to help: www.licensingmagazine.com, wwwlicenseglobal.com, www.totallicensing.com