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Branding and Image Licensing in Today's Marketplace

Several years ago, I wrote a few articles on license imaging, branding, etc. how it is done, and what are some of the "tricks of the trade". As all things change, including the way we do business, especially on the Internet, most, if not all of my articles are outdated, though many of the principals remain the same.

Lately, I have had several requests for writers, artists, photographers and musicians to share some information, and I will do my best. This article is on the history of it and why it exists and is important. I will write another with more specifics on how to brand in today's marketplace to give some ideas after giving the reader time to research.

My qualifications include a major in business information management at Western Governors University and ten years of marketing my own offbeat cartoon site and several licensed image gift shops. I launched the cartoon on a true shoestring, maybe three hundred dollars, a beat up computer, and living and working in a friend's abandoned metal warehouse in rural Mississippi in 1997, and a group of team illustrators willing to take a chance on my concepts.

The site has grown to be the most visited offbeat cartoon site on the Internet with about 3 million visitors per year and over 8500 images showcased. I have ten stores that feature over 100,000 original products from aprons to wall clocks that "brand" my cartoon image.

My website was the first offbeat cartoon to be recognized in the Alexa top 100,000 websites, the first to have an offbeat cartoon on real U.S. postage stamps and the first to "go green" with a 100% organic cotton tshirt shop. I say this not for bragging rights, but to show you what can be done with next to nothing (financially) and a powerful idea.

When I started, there was none of the goodies we have today on the Internet such as social networking, social bookmarking, blogging, Google, pinging, and a host of other tools. Most marketing was done by phone, emails, and banners.

Today, with the Internet, even if you have nothing to brand, but want to make a decent second income and eventually a career (if you put time and effort into it), you can join an affiliate or associates program and market other's branded products (much like a retail store does today). Tie your rope to a shooting star and grow with it.

For instance, any of my stores at Zazzle, like the ones mentioned above, offer associates programs. Zazzle allows you promote products, such as mine and others on your own website or blog and earn a nice commission. Not a bad deal, being able to establish your own online retail store, and not have to put a penny into it other than the website (or free if you use a blog), and article marketing (free) to promote the products, and if you wish, make a budget for Google AdWords and advertise the actual product page and/or your own store with the links and pics of them.

Branding oneself or one's work has been with us, experts say, since biblical times. Probably one of the most well-known early public relations giants was Paul of Tarsus or St. Paul. Many are not aware of biblical history, but here is an example of what can happen when powerful ideas are put into motion. According to biblical scholars, professors of comparative religion, etc. of which I've been a pro toge, when Jesus came up with the idea to "reform Judaism", he actually was not forming a new religion, just changes (which eventually were done anyway within the religion).

Paul on the other hand, was interested in getting the word out to the masses, and "branding" it a new religion. This new religion, now known as Christianity, was not actually founded until about 65 A.D. Bankrolled by the Roman Empire, and known as The First Church Of Rome, later to be known as Catholicism. Of course, as time went by, even that split into many new "branded" sects and other forms and interpretations of the religion formed.

But actually in spirit, branding goes back long before even biblical days. For instance, the early caveman was known to "mark his territory" to let it be known that this was "Grog's food, or Grog's woman, family, etc.). Of course, anthropology has shown us it is primitive and instinctive for man, and woman to want to "leave their mark" in the world. Procreation, oddly enough, is a form of branding, or "keeping our image alive", though it might be a bit basic to look at it that way. It is simply a part of our genetic makeup to keep the species going.

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