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Pantone stand at Brand Licensing Europe 2017

Brand Licensing Europe 2017 Review

Europe’s largest branding event just got even bigger. So why are more people than ever flocking to Brand Licensing Europe? DMN popped down to take a look.

With a 4% rise in attendance, Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) had it’s most successful year ever. But 2017 was also its most diverse. With the event shifting a large section of its focus away from its traditional licensing areas into a number of newer emerging markets.

BLE has always been a fun event to attend and this year was no different.

New focus

BLE has traditionally focused on character licensing. With many familiar children’s favourites filling its floors. But in recent years it’s begun to shift its focus towards emerging trends within the licensing industry: Gaming and Lifestyle branding.

In 2017, they’ve pushed these trends to the forefront of the show. This year’s event has given them an almost level billing to the mainstay character event.

Why the change?

In recent years there has been a huge growth in the Lifestyle and Gaming industries. And the opportunities for growth and innovation in these industries is enormous.

CNBC covered just how significant these new areas have become in their report on BLE below.

BLE 2017: The $262BN business and why it’s great for marketers from CNBC.


Gaming was the biggest new big draw for the event this year with a dedicated gaming activation area and leading brands like Activision and Ubisoft attending.

The event from a gaming perspective was extensive, covering all aspects of gaming from cutting-edge titles like Assassin’s Creed to retro classics like Street Fighter (celebrating its 30th birthday). The event also catered for the considerable growth in the mobile games industry, with well-known titles like Candy Crush and Angry Birds.

There was also a lot of buzz around Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) within this area. With many companies excited to show the growing potential of these technologies.

One such company, Sybogames, did this in a fantastically imaginative way. Instead of building a stand and working within it they used the stand as the canvas for the technology. The walls became an AR wall, Bullet Time photo wall and virtual graffiti wall.

The reason for such a show of force from the gaming industry is in response to two key trends within the industry.

Merch and more

In recent years, brand licensing has become a key area of growth within the gaming industry. It has led to many titles and companies moving far beyond the games themselves.

As such, BLE has innovatively responded to this shift beyond the game. Within the activation area, there was a mock retail environment to let people fully understand just where brand licensing is heading in this market.

This is new territory for many brands, and this retail space quickly educated visitors on this market’s potential. Although, some companies, like Activision, are already very active in this market. They already have award-winning Candy Crush candies and baking kits along with many character lines such as Destiny 2 figures and more.


The key emerging brand trend for many of the gaming companies, however, was Esports.

Esports is an evolution of online gaming into global competitive communities. With games like Overwatch and Call of Duty now having global leagues of online gamers. Overwatch even has the first major professional esports league; with 12 professional teams based in cities around the US.

Esports is also an area the gaming industry believes holds a considerable amount of potential for their future growth. So there was a lot of focus on how they can work with partners to leverage new and existing brands (like the iconic Call of Duty) to develop this area to its full potential.


The other major emerging trend at the event was the growth in lifestyle brands or brands moving into the lifestyle arena. This also had its own dedicated area at the event.

It’s a more grown-up side to the event, away from the traditional focus on many more youth oriented brands. But it is one that is growing year on year.

Lifestyle offers brands a very intriguing prospect for development. It opens up markets that many brands may never have considered before, and gives them the opportunity to work with partners that push the boundaries and expectations of their brand.

Within the area, you had brands from virtually every industry. Cars, brewers, museums and beyond. The simple idea for many being, that their known product is simply a jumping off point. So brands like JCB or Guinness were there to show just how versatile their brands could be.

Another brand really pushing the boundaries of this area of licensing was the V&A Museum. Their pioneering approach to brand licensing has seen them go from strength to strength in this area, and this year was no different.

Clear messaging

It takes a lot to stand out at an event like BLE. The brands and products on show are all recognised, all bold and all imaginative. So what could make the difference?

When recognition is a congested space, how can you get your message across?

For many of the standout stands at BLE the answer was clarity. Realising they couldn’t solely rely on their name, they opted to clearly and quickly set out what their brands stand for.


#Pantone #ble2017 #olympia #timoresanz

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The best of the bunch was Pantone’s Creative Lab. This creation was a masterclass in simple and clear messaging.

Pantone simply brought their lab to life, mixing real colours live at the event. It was beautiful, inventive and playful. But mostly it immediately and clearly showed exactly what Pantone do, with no need for questions.

They also used the colours to make handmade screen-printed notebooks.


Another striking example of clarity and brand coming together was the quiet simplicity of the Moomins stand. In-line with the brand’s serene, charming style, the stand simply put the Moomins on show, without needing to shout about it.



Mattel opted to focus on the pure nostalgia of their brand, without clutter. Their stand’s dramatic use of their logo for the entrance told everyone all they needed to know.


Trends aside, characters remain the big draw of BLE, and there are a lot on show.

Characters are everywhere, making it a very competitive space for everyone there. So how do you stand out?

You can be proactive, ignoring the stand and taking the show to the people. Brands like the Ninja Turtles (promoting their Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon) and Trolls pushed this hard. If you look at BLE on social media, they are in so many pictures of the event, without ever being at their stand.

But other brands were a little more creative than simply having someone in a costume.

#BLE2017 #suchadoll #barbie #workworkwork #licenselikeapro #newarrivals ?????

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Barbie’s fantastic packaging photo booth was extremely fun, but also played on people’s love and nostalgia for the toy and that familiar brand experience of a new toy still boxed. It’s a wonderfully simple psychological association that works so well.

And then there’s the character parade.

Just because they can, and other events can’t.

How about 2018?

If you are planning on taking your stand to Brand Licensing Europe 2018,
DMN already have our teams building show-stopping stands on-site each year
so if you want to benefit from our event experience and creativity
why not book a free consultation session? We guarantee it will be a ‘bright idea’.

Contact Matt Briggs on +44 (0) 1484 451061 or click here to drop him an email