The Ol' College Try
The market is not without challenges, though, with licensing restrictions topping the list. In most cases, artwork and suppliers must be preapproved and permission granted by the school's licensing board before logos can be printed on a product. "Distributors must be licensed by the Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC) to work with larger schools," noted Woodburn. "They are basically the middlemen when it comes to approving logos on products, and the schools give them the discretion to do so. There are different licenses based on what you intend to sell to the schools and if you intend to sell into the retail market." This can cause headaches, but it can also be a windfall for distributors. "You might be able to get away without a license, but the small investment is worth the time and effort and will give you better access into all areas of a school," Woodburn said.
According to CollegeBoard.com, in 2013, average tuition and fees totaled $8,893 (in-state) and $22,203 (out-of-state) for public colleges and $30,094 for private colleges. Anyone who's familiar with student loans will tell you the numbers are more in the well-I'm-gonna-have-to-sell-a-kidney-to-pay-for-this range, but the point remains: college is expensive. All that tuition money, of course, means colleges have deep pockets—far deeper than the average high school.
As such, high schools tend to operate on tighter marketing budgets than their higher-education counterparts. "This market is typically very price-conscious," noted Kevin Burden, director of business development for Gill Studios Inc., Lenexa, Kan. "Education buyers in a lot of cases look for items that can effectively share a message to the masses at a low cost, whether it is bumper stickers that show school pride, recognize student achievements or support sports teams, or a functional parking permit that can either stick to a car window or hang from a rearview mirror."