At my four year-old son's birthday party we enjoyed Fazer's Angry Birds ice cream cake. The drinks were served in Arabia's Moomin-themed mugs. The birthday guests played with toys and games emblazoned with faces familiar from Pixar's catalogue of animated movies – from cars to planes.
Angry Birds and the Moomins are examples of the success that Finnish brands have achieved on a global scale, central to which has been the role of marketing and licensing. International licensing is big business, yet, aside from a few exceptions, it is still in its infancy as a business sector in Finland. This is all despite the fact that Finnish companies have a wealth of untapped intangible assets, which has huge commercial potential.
Licensing is part of a broader practice of brand building and management. A brand has to be more resilient than a trend and licensing is one way to maintain brand interest even as trends change. For example, in the fast-paced entertainment industry, a company can strengthen awareness of its brand through licensing, lengthen its lifespan, and increase the company's earning potential.
In its most simple form, licensing can be applied to a company's brand or logo. When taken a bit further, licensing can impact on the look of a company, entrepreneur or artist's product, story, character, or other product components. It is essential, here, that the intellectual property in question, or a part of it, is recognisable when divorced from its original context, with the reputation, story, and values stemming from the original form being retained as the IP is used in conjunction with other products.
Commercial licensing can be applied to all sectors; from art to industry. The Särkänniemi theme park has licensed Mauri Kunnas' books as the basis for its Doghill-themed area. Licensing also has a central role in the merchandising of footballing giants such as FC Barcelona. Another example of licensing at its best is the cooperation between Kalevala Jewelry and rock star Michael Monroe, which has resulted in a range of themed jewellery.
The Tekes Feelings programme is seeking new and surprising business ideas relating to ways in which Finnish intangible assets can be exported through international licensing. The idea search is aimed at SMEs and is open until the end of March. Where would you like to see your band and with whom? Tell us about your ideas and partners!
Minna Suutari, Programme Manager of the Feelings programme
Idea search (in Finnish)