Marvel-ous Marketing Lessons, Courtesy Superheroes
superhero marketing

Marvel’s latest marvel ‘Captain Marvel’ (Marvel at my use of marvels) is here and I just can’t stay calm about it. But since the movie tickets are too expensive for me to afford without selling my soul, I am turning my attention to other useful things – Like how there’s a lot we can learn from marketing about superheroes. And no, I am not talking about putting Professor Xavier’s mind-bending qualities to use and getting clients to give us the green signal on that damn campaign (although that would be so useful). I am referring to how superheroes can inspire us as marketers with a few key essentials in branding.

Here’s the thing: Heroes resonate with us all, and for good reason, too. Their well-rounded characters, relatable personality traits, and acts of heroism help create a meaningful connection with the audience. However, there’s a slew of things we can learn from their soaring popularity that can help us with business, in marketing, and even life in general.

So, suit up and get ready to unleash these learnings at work!

1. Nothing Can Beat A Good Brand Story
Every superhero has a very strong origin story that defines their life. Batman witnessed his parents’ murder as a kid, Superman was sent away by his parents when his planet Krypton faced certain destruction, and Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider. These origin stories, while entertaining, serve a larger purpose. They endear these superheroes to their audience and help forge a stronger connection with them.

How is this relevant for your brand, you ask? The audience needs to believe that there’s more to your brand than the good ol’ money making initiative. We’re all suckers for a good story. A good origin saga about overcoming hardships and failure, with a generous serving of drama on the side, cheers us up no deal.

Case in point: Warby Parker – the brand founded on a rebellious spirit and a lofty object to offer designer eyewear at reasonable prices. It all started when one of the founders lost his glasses on a backpacking trip while in college. Since the cost of replacing the glasses was very high, the poor fella decided to squint and whine through the entire semester. And that’s when he came up with the idea of launching his brand of affordable eyewear.

As you can see, Warby Parker is more than a fashion accessory for women. It’s a brand with an extremely relatable back story, which proved to be an essential part of their success and got them tremendous word-of-mouth from the get-go.

So when you’re creating a marketing strategy for a client, dive deep in and try and discover the human element to their business. And when you find it, play it up for all it is worth. If you’re able to establish that connection with them using a solid backstory, you can be sure that you’re building a relationship with them for life.

2. Adapt with the Times, but Don’t Forget Who You Are

The superhero universe offers us a valuable lesson in being true to the brand identity. Superheroes are required to reinvent themselves with the changing times, but they do so whilst remaining true to their brand. They retain that crucial, recognizable component of their personality – their symbol, the signature color scheme, their costume design – to anchor themselves to their real selves.

Look at Batman. Even though the bat symbol has evolved over time, every variation has a strong connection to the familiar Batman theme. This is because they know that if they tinker with the symbol too much, they risk losing the essence of this superhero’s character.

But sometimes, it can go wrong. Say hello to Wonder Woman’s rebellious teen avatar!

Back in the ’90s, there was a time when Wonder Woman lost her title to a fellow Amazon warrior Artemis. As part of her coping mechanism, Diana ditched her iconic red, golden and blue attire and cobbled together an outfit that looked like a mix between a dominatrix and the toughest girl on the Tour de France.

Obviously, the transition didn’t sit well with the readers and Wonder Woman was back to her iconic and elegant avatar in 6 months after she regained her title.

How does this translate into the real world? Let’s take a look at Cadbury’s Chocolates and their journey from the 19th century all the way to the 21st century. Cadbury began their marketing with vibrant posters and magazine advertisements illustrated by a local artist to establish the brand image that is loved by consumers even today. As the brand grew, their branding evolved to reflect this expansion. And while Cadbury’s brand colors have remained purple since 1920, the logo and the font have changed several times over the years. Despite that, the brand has managed to be consistent and keep the essence of the company intact through all these years, retaining elements like the trademark purple and the whimsical logo script.

The lesson? Time tends to change everything, but it’s crucial for companies to retain their identity while adapting to the needs of the hour. Not many are able to do it well. They either refuse to change or they transform so radically as to become unrecognizable. Adapt with the times as and when necessary, but always stay true to your core so that the brand doesn’t lose its identity.

My line of work is difficult, both as a writer and as a marketeer. Much like the Mighty Avengers, my job is never finished and often thankless. Don’t believe us? Ask any marketer how many end-of-the-world situations they have to deal with every day, and we promise it’ll be enough to make you stab yourself with one of the Black Widow’s daggers.

But, on the bright side, there are moments like this when I can set aside thoughts of my difficult clients and revel in doling out advice to all and sundry. And I am enjoying it so much that I am thinking of writing another installment to this series because, like I said, there’s just so much you can learn from superheroes. (Plus, it’s a good excuse to dream about Thor and Iron Man on company time!).

But for now, I am going to see if I can’t beg, borrow, and steal enough money to get tickets to Captain Marvel. Because it’s Friday, after all. And a gal has got to have some kick ass fun, right?

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