Why Licensing Is Invisible Marketing with Jeff Lotman

jeff lotman on brand

“People take a lot of value in brands. When you are at home or are limited (because of the pandemic) you tend to go with the first one you think of. But there are brands that have to think differently, especially brands in retail.” Jeff Lotman has an iconic career both as a brand strategist at his firm Global Icons and as a retailer as the owner of Fred Segal. He’s also the author of the book Invisible Marketing. We discussed all of this and more this week on the On Brand podcast.

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About Jeff Lotman

Jeff Lotman is the driving force behind Global Icons, the world’s leading brand-focused agency with over $5 billion in retail sales and a client roster that includes Kleenex, Hostess, Lamborghini, NOKIA, and USPS, among others. He is also the owner of Fred Segal, LA’s iconic fashion brand, and author of the best selling book, Invisible Marketing: A Hidden Tool For Connecting With Consumers Through Licensing.

Episode Highlights

Why is licensing “invisible marketing” as Jeff’s book of the same name suggests? “Because most don’t think of it!” Jeff noted during the podcast. You’re taking the customer’s trust of a brand—which is valuable—and extending it somewhere else. “We’re selling rarified air. It’s intangible.”

When should a brand start to think about licensing? “You have to be number one in something first.” Jeff pointed to examples such as White Castle, known both in their region and for their sliders.

How do you know where to extend? “You have to ask—and test it out.”

Being a brand licensing expert, I had to ask Jeff for his best and worst examples. His favorite? Vicks—known for their Vaporub—successfully extended their brand into the humidifier space with an artfully designed, cough-drop shaped device. And his not-so-good example …? Zippo—known for its iconic lighters—tried to market a perfume. “You can’t just throw your logo on it.” There has to be a fit.

What brand has made Jeff smile recently? Jeff pointed to another great licensing case study—Taco Bell and Doritos. “It was great! How had they not done this before?”

To learn more, check out the Global Icons website and Jeff’s book Invisible Marketing.

As We Wrap …

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