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The Inside Man: Becoming evergreen

New regular columnist, Simon Waters, asks what if we re-planted the word ‘evergreen’ back into the forest and redefined longevity with more precision?

Evergreen… what a word. I hear it a lot in pitches and presentations. It’s usually followed by the word ‘franchise’, and I confess that now and then both words slip out of my mouth. And each time they do, I ask myself what does ‘evergreen franchise’ actually mean?

The word evergreen is often placed before the word franchise, like IP fairy dust. It’s sprinkled onto pitches in the hope that buyers will believe it’s an IP that will keep on giving year after year, and not be handcuffed to a one-off event like a theatrical or a short-lived Instagram meme.

It’s a good goal of course; it’s called longevity. But to the canny, it sounds more like a well-trodden wish than a tangible outcome on a P&L.

What if we re-planted the word evergreen back into the forest that it came from and redefined longevity with more precision?

What if we instead, translated it to the long-term creative and commercial outcomes we want for our partners who are working with our brands – namely, engagement, repeatability and scalability?

I think everyone – from buyers, licensees and promotional partners – to anyone wanting to ride our IP jet would appreciate it.

Here’s some thought starters.

First, engagement – or what I call, your brand glue. For longevity, we want our IP to stick. Anyone can buy likes and follows, but they can be as transient as the algorithms they trigger. Engagement has to be earned; earned is authentic, and authentic converts into sales. Give me 100 engaged consumers versus 1,000 likes any day.

Second, repeatability – or what I call, your brand reverb. For longevity, if audiences can repeat their experience with your brand, day after day, iterate it, build on it, adapt it and still love it, bingo. If they keep coming back for more, then they really like your party. Give me bankable repeatability from an engaged audience over random acts of marketing any day.

Third, scalability – or what I call brand elastic. For longevity, if you can stretch your brand creatively and successfully across markets, categories, consumers and experiences and still be true to your promise, then you know you’ve kept the heart of your brand beating like a champ. Give me a brand that stays true to itself at scale rather than a brand that looks like the cheap diluted version with none of the authentic taste.

Engagement, repeatability and scalability. Or otherwise known as glue, reverb and elastic.

Those latter three words might sound like a team of East London hipster architects, but to me, it sounds more like what we want out of a good licensing relationship – longevity for our brands.

Simon Waters runs World Builder, a licensing and content brand accelerator, and is the founder of The Licensing Insiders, a connected collective of senior licensing executives who deliver incremental revenue and brand growth for their clients without the overhead of in-house or agency teams.

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