Sparking design inspiration… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes picks up some strong examples of licensing while looking through home decorating magazines this week.

This week a lot of my Looking Out was deskbound. I have been going through some home decorating magazines for inspiration for some new projects around the home.

While flicking through the pages I picked up on some interesting examples of licensing. It was a good reminder that licensing features in a range of market sectors and products.

LL3I guess not unexpectedly, one of the prominent brands was the V&A. As noted before the V&A has developed a wide reaching and strong licensing programme which includes a number of partners in the home interiors and furnishing space.

One of the ranges that caught my eye was a range of made to measure blinds and curtains from Curtains 2 Go. The featured design was a William Morris one, Honeysuckle and Tulip. In this the V&A brings credibility and, of course, a strong design archive. The V&A is also working with Sofas & Stuff. It has created a sofa collection with ‘design inspiration from the V&A archives’. This reinforces the point about the value of the V&A’s archives and how interiors companies see this as a way of differentiating themselves in the market. It also helps them create strong advertising, PR and editorial all of which are key elements when selling lifestyle products like sofas.

House Beautiful magazine itself has developed a number of licensing partnerships. These are featured and supported in the magazine which I guess is a very attractive part of the partnership to the licensee. It is very targeted and efficient licensing. A featured partner was Carpetright. It has developed a broad collection under the House Beautiful brand. House Beautiful also has a partnership with DFS. It has worked with DFS to create a range of sofas. One feature of these partnerships is the coordination between them.

I am sure the House Beautiful team have had a lot of input on colour choices and finishes tapping into their market knowledge. The magazine is able to support the ranges with editorial that focuses on styling and provides style tips. The brand is also working with bed retailer Dreams and has created a House Beautiful bed collection.

House Beautiful has a partnership with Homebase for a kitchen collection.
House Beautiful has a partnership with Homebase for a kitchen collection.

Furthermore, House Beautiful also has a partnership with Homebase for a kitchen collection. Again, these are presented with editorial support and put into a design context. The ranges have names such as Islington, Camberwell and Bermondsey. I must say in 1970s South East London I would have given you long odds against a stylish kitchen being called the Bermondsey! But time moves on.

Overall the House Beautiful range works well, is very coordinated and is a well targeted example of brand licensing. It has used the magazine and online reach well to create a foundation stone for licensing. The licensees have recognised that this partnership is a very efficient way of targeting consumers and delivers a strong point of difference in a competitive space.

LL5An interesting player in the interiors category is Harris Tweed. Harris Tweed is a material that is used in production of products like sofas, but Harris Tweed is also well established as an aspirational brand. While it may not be an example of a licence in the traditional sense, it is a good example of how a producer has established a real value in what they are making and created lasting brand value.

Harris Tweed has a partnership with furnishings company Tetrad and has developed a range of sofas. Again, one feature of this partnership is the stylish presentation of the range in lifestyle advertising.

LL2I also noticed that TV personality and campaigner Katie Piper has a bedding range in the market. She is working with Bedeck. Katie’s bedding range incorporates slogans such as Calm, Restore and Reset. It is presented in bright contemporary colourways.

The range has been in development for two years and Katie has been hands-on in the development. Bedeck is making a donation to the Katie Piper Foundation from each sale.

It seems that this is a really authentic collection where the ‘celebrity’ has played an integral role in its development.

It is also good to see money flowing to Katie’s foundation from sales.

LL4I did actually get away from my desk this week and took time off from choosing colours. I noticed Cadbury’s has launched a Dairy Milk tin featuring Peter Rabbit. This is part of the Easter range and I believe is part of an ongoing relationship. I am expecting to see quite a few more Peter Rabbit products like this as I have also noticed that there is a Beatrix Potter exhibition opening soon at the V&A.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature sets out to tell Beatrix Potter’s life story and will include items such as letters. The exhibition is being produced in tandem with the National Trust. Exhibitions like this create a lot of focus and attention around brands and, in this case, will also shine a light on some of the original artefacts associated with Beatrix Potter which I am sure will inspire NPD. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition – who knows I might get some design inspiration myself from it!

Ian Downes runs Start Licensing, an independent brand licensing agency. His Twitter handle is @startlicensing – he would welcome your suggestions for what to look out for.

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