Brand Overlay – Report

Posted on: Thursday 02 July 2015 5:25pm by Hannah Lee


  • Brand overlay must bring something fresh
  • The digital space has opened more opportunities for brand overlay
  • There are some golden rules that ensure brand overlay will have more chance of success…but sometimes, the weirder it is, the more kids will enjoy it!
  • Brand overlays can make things more accessible to more audiences
  • Brand overlay must be child focussed strong brands
  • Keep the branding strong but allow for flexibility within the brand overlay

Children’s play patterns have always involved a mash-up of brands. Toy companies like Lego are also brilliant at layering brands, with their top-selling products supporting other brands. The movie Toy Story pivots around this play pattern and The Lego Movie reflects this play pattern with external brands mixed with its own.

1.      What’s your brand overlay story?

Answers all included playing with toys as children, for example using Star Wars figures in a dollhouse.

2.      Do children need the structured and directive play that brand content provides rather than purely open-ended and imaginative play?

Children brand overlay without realising. Lego is a construction toy but is also an implement of play, imagination, a story starter and a creative play journey. So no, not necessarily.

3.      Is brand overlay something just adults get excited about?

Definitely not! The weirder the better for kids, they love it. Visual digital content is driving people back to physical toys too, allowing for more brand collaborations. Children get excited about brand overlay as it means they can be in control; it’s more empowering for them, making them feel grown up.

4.      Is this a new trend in digital or something that toycos have understood for a long while?

It’s a trend that is set to become more popular.

Amanda thinks Toycos have only understood this since the rise of digital and realised they are having to open up. Until then they were very protective of their brands.

5.      What are the component parts of effective brand overlay?

  • It has to work for both sides.
  • Listening to audience is vital.
  • Product content created completely or mostly by fans.
  • Digital is making brand overlay easier.
  • Stay true to your values and understand what consumers want in order to               be successful.
  • Authenticity – don’t over market brands to children.

6.      What is the correct balance between brand integrity and allowing your brand to support other brands?

Understand what your brand stands for and never disappoint your consumers.

7.      Is there a golden rule (or two) for creating in this space?

  • Don’t force brands that don’t match and stay true to your values
  • Don’t underestimate your audience because as we all know, young audiences are brutal.
  • Be innovative. The collaboration still needs to bring something fresh to both sides and the consumer’s experience of the product.
  • Hello Kitty and Kiss collaboration works oddly well – so maybe there aren’t any rules!
  • Mobile is a tough space to win an audience so collaborations are beneficial.
  • Don’t over think the branding – it needs to have a strong identity but allow flexibility to the brand.

8.      Are the benefits of brand overlay now too established to be a passing phase?

The panel’s consensus was that brand overlay is here to stay; in fact, it’s now expected!

For full details of the speakers check the session guide.

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Hannah Lee

About the author

Hannah Lee

Sheffield Hallam University, Graduate

I am a recent English and History graduate of Sheffield Hallam University who is currently seeking full time employment. My interests include reading, writing and latin and ballroom dancing. I have enjoyed being a general volunteer at The CMC for the previous two years. This year I have successfully become… Read more