Smart Brands Use Licensed Products to Engage Consumers as Conventional Marketing Tools Fall Short, Says New Book

Too Many Companies “Sell Their Brands Short” by Not Considering Brand Licensing in Their Marketing Strategy, According to The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity by Michael Stone, Chairman of Beanstalk

NEW YORK, Nov. 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Companies that recognize the potential of brand licensing as a pathway to “entangle” and bond with consumers, and that understand its place in the consumer shopping journey, stand a better chance of thriving in a world that has been turned upside down by the disruptive forces of digital technology and the internet. That is the stark advice in the just-published book, The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity (Ankerwycke, October 2018).

Author Michael Stone, Co-founder and Chairman of Beanstalk, a global brand extension licensing agency, says: “We are at a tipping point in the history of marketing and communications. After 150 years or so of traditional advertising domination, marketers must adjust to the new, transformative era where the internet, technology and social media have gained the upper hand.”

“The internet has not only diminished the effectiveness of traditional advertising but also complicated how brands (and retailers) engage with consumers and drive them to make a purchase,” says Stone. 

To meet the challenge, Stone urges companies to consider brand licensing as an integral part of their marketing strategy – alongside advertising, public relations, experiential marketing and social media, among others. Stone examines the many paths available to brands to deliver their brand message and to drive purchasing, including licensing. Some companies “get it” such as P&G, Stanley Black & Decker, The Coca-Cola Company, Energizer, Diageo and Harley-Davidson.

“Licensing remains underutilized by many brand marketers,” Stone insists. “As a result, they are selling their brands short by not paying attention to how brand licensing can help them achieve their marketing and corporate objectives.”

What Brand Licensing Is – and Why It’s Important Now

Brand licensing is when a brand owner permits – or licenses – another company, typically a manufacturer or service provider, to create, market and sell a product or service that features its brand name and logo. Stone focuses not on “decorative licensing,” or using a name or logo as decoration on a product, but on “brand extension licensing” – products that are so closely aligned with the core product that consumers perceive the connection between the licensed product and core product as seamless. Stone sees brand licensing as “a marketing and communications tool focused on recruiting, retaining and further bonding consumers to a brand,” one that motivates and inspires consumers to purchase more branded product, including the core product. Why and how companies use this tool, and how brands can capitalize on the experiences of those that have done it well, is what the book is about.

Licensing has been a feature of marketing for more than a century. Palmer Cox, a Canadian illustrator of children’s books, was likely the father of modern day licensing in the late 1880s, granting permission to use his illustrated characters, the Brownies, on a host of products including P&G’s new product, Ivory Soap. Adolphus Busch granted rights to use the Busch name at about the same time and, at the turn of the century, President Teddy Roosevelt allowed his name to be used for a stuffed animal, “Teddy’s Bear.” But Stone argues that brand extension licensing is becoming increasingly important now because it can help brand owners reach the consumer with their messages and products in today’s increasingly fractured communications and retail landscape, in which the internet and technology have complicated how brands and retailers connect with consumers and drive purchasing. “If you think about marketing as persuasion, then in today’s new digital world, the persuasion is more effective if it comes more from the product itself and less from just favorable words that the brand itself promotes.” In effect, the product is the message – translating the implicit brand equities in a very tangible way. “At its best, licensing builds brand awareness, inspires consumers to purchase a product and drives them to the core product.”

Trends That Make Brand Licensing the Obvious Choice for Chief Marketing Officers

Stone highlights several trends that illustrate why brand licensing should be part of the CMO’s marketing toolbox. These include:

  • The Cultural Paradox of Brands. Stone rejects the view that the internet will lead to a “brand apocalypse.” Some argue that consumers no longer need to rely on the good name of established brands, or the traditional advertising that has supported those brands in the past, to help consumers make their purchasing decisions; those critics say the availability of online product information means that consumers can research and compare products to draw their own conclusions. But the reality is that the sheer volume and variety of information means that – paradoxically – consumers need precisely the kind of help that brands (including brands created online ­– that is, digitally native brands) can offer them: a simple and speedy way to make purchasing decisions. Also, they (particularly younger consumers) demand that the brand message, however it’s delivered, be authentic.
  • The Analog Trend. Stone notes a growing countervailing trend – running in the opposite direction to everything digital – with some consumers wanting to discover and experience brands in a real, physical way. Witness so many online retailers – including Amazon – moving into brick-and-mortar retail. There is a blurring of online and offline, as consumers are seeking a kind of “digital detox.” Consumers want to touch and feel products – like buying more printed books and fewer e-books. This is less about online versus offline, and more about reaching consumers when, where and how they want to learn about a brand and when, where and how they want to shop, Stone says.

The book features many case studies, examples and stories of companies that have understood the lasting value of successfully implemented brand licensing programs to support specific brand objectives, such as Baileys, Febreze, Energizer, Weight Watchers (now WW), Briggs & Stratton and The Coca-Cola Company. Other topics, also supported by case studies, include managing and supporting a licensing program, understanding and mitigating risks, reviving dormant brands, celebrities as brands, retail exclusive licensing and brand licensing outside the United States. Stone examines the future of licensing in the context of the many paths available to deliver a brand message, including balancing broad and targeted marketing, communicating with different generations and social media opportunities, among other messaging tactics. The book also squarely positions licensing in the middle of today’s “shopping battlefield” by addressing the blurring of online and offline commerce and the evolving shopping journey.

As Stone notes, “Technology has raised consumer expectations and put more pressure on ‘brand promise.’ The consumer’s purchasing journey has many paths, and the number of those paths is increasing at an accelerated pace. No one can see around the bend in the road.”

“Brands now have the opportunity to be regularly connected to consumers, to make shopping easier and more convenient and to deliver a personalized shopping experience both online and offline. In today’s world, brands need multiple messaging strategies, and brand licensing is one of the choices,” adds Stone. The Power of Licensing is essential reading for any savvy licensing or marketing professional.

For more information or to speak with Michael Stone, please contact Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller of Sommerfield Communications at +1 (212) 255-8386 or

About the Author
Michael Stone is the chairman and co-founder of the leading global brand licensing agency, Beanstalk. The recipient of 23 LIMA International Licensing Awards, he has been instrumental in driving the evolution of brand licensing as a marketing tool used by many Fortune 500 companies. Stone has served as an adjunct professor of Brand Licensing at Baruch University School of Business and Long Island University Post. Stone is a member of the board of Year Up New York, a charitable organization committed to closing the opportunity divide facing urban young adults. He has a B.A. from Hamilton College and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law.

About Beanstalk 
Beanstalk, a global brand extension agency, works closely with our clients to unlock brand equity and create many of the world’s most recognizable products and services.  We help leading brands, celebrities, media properties, manufacturers and retailers creatively find ways to strengthen their relationship with their most important stakeholder – the consumer.

Beanstalk offers a breadth of services including brand representation, manufacturer representation, icon representation, retailer partnerships, STUDIO B creative services, approvals management, legal and financial services, and royalty auditing.  Blueprint – Powered by Beanstalk, our consulting division, advises clients through four key practice areas: brand extension + retail development, research + insights, design + identity, and operations + governance. Tinderbox, our digital division, works with gaming and new media properties to realize their potential in the world of consumer products.

The company is headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Miami and Cincinnati and affiliates throughout the world.  For more information, please visit

Katarina Wenk-Bodenmiller
Sommerfield Communications
(212) 255-8386