Yes, you read that correctly. I am going to make this post interesting by using examples of Iron man and Batman to give you a lesson on branding. I am sure that as we proceed further, you may not find it as strange as it may appear now.
Both the characters, heroes of Marvel and DC comics respectively, are a household name with major movie franchises, cartoon series, comic books, graphic novels, toys and action figures etc.
They are all big brands centered on an individual – personal branding is the term for it. This is an art of building a unique brand around you. There are so many examples of personal branding. Steve Jobs is a brand in himself and so was Coco Chanel.
However, there is someone else who beats all of them together – Superheroes.
They leave an impression. Superheroes sublimate the fears and anxieties and leave the audience with a cathartic experience of seeing the hero win over evil.
“Personal branding is not about you. It’s about putting your stamp on the value you deliver to others.”
– William Arruda
Yeah maybe we won’t be crime fighting vigilantes but still there is a lot that we can learn from their branding strategies to ensure sure that our brand stands out.
The nature of branding needs to be circular
You need to create a persona of your brand, a face that users can relate to. It must be beyond the usual showing your companies’ values.
Your entire content whether it’s your language in e-mails or on social media – brand identity must be baked into everything.
Batman and Iron Man, for instance, come with a decade long back story of theirs’. How they became who they are and what are their goals. As with any new product, it needs a sense of continuity, and should support older products.
Superheroes amount of research
It may appear absurd, but this is going to make a lot of sense in a while. You may have noticed that no matter what era of the Iron Man or Batman franchise you look at, they are always looking for different ways to improve their craft and get better at what they are doing. They make plans to attack and try win over their enemy.
This is where you need to focus. You can learn a lot from their entire process of research. Just like them, you must know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and whom you are doing it for.
Brand research isn’t a onetime thing. It touches every part of your business, so you need to make sure that your brand is building value in customers’ minds.
“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”
– Walter Landor
The perception of the world towards your brand
The way the world sees your brand can have a huge impact on your progress. It can make or break your company. If someone shows you the Iron Man or Batman symbol – or the Apple logo – it triggers emotions associated with that brand.
Stan Lee created Iron Man to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and industry in the fight against communism.
Subsequently, it has transitioned from Cold War motifs to contemporary matters of the time.
Batman, on the other hand, evokes hope in the citizens of Gotham city and fear in the minds of the criminals.
What do you want your brand to evoke in the minds of consumers? How do your logo, storefront, online presence, and overall appearance to customers reflect that brand identity?
You should know your audience
Just like Batman and Iron Man, you need to know your audience. Their audience are not the people in the city nor the victims of the crimes. Their audience is – the criminals.
Both have built themselves in a way that terrifies their audience. They have instilled this fear in the criminals (their audience) through branding.
No, no! You don’t have to try and terrify your audience. What you need to do is build your brand around a specific audience.
You can’t please everyone. It is impossible to be all things to all people. You need to identify your audience and simultaneously, your audience too needs to identify that you are talking to them.
To achieve this, your branding message needs to be strong, compelling and loud. This will help you in connecting with your target audience and build confidence in you to work for them.
Your branding consistency
Superheroes are consistent. Be it Batman, Superman or Iron Man, they all remain consistent.
There might be variations in the way they appear, how they are presented or how the readers may perceive them but they are all essentially the same.
A large team of creative artists work on these superheroes so creative changes are inevitable. However, despite this, the origin story, the bat, the logo, and the persona remain the same.
Branding consistency is essential in establishing your presence to give your consumers a clear depiction of your brand.
Once you have established your branding message, stick with it and continue to deliver that message repeatedly.
Most of the big brands like Coca Cola, KFC or McDonalds have stood the test of time, all because of their branding consistency. They have not achieved this success overnight.
Deliver on the brand promise
Bruce Wayne built Batman on the promise that he would protect Gotham from the corruption that destroyed his family.
He established a no-killing rule and refused to use guns. No matter what villains he faced, Batman fought to reach his goals and uphold his principles at every turn.
“I swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on criminals.”
Batman promises vengeance.
This is obviously not something I am encouraging you to adopt. But, it is vital for you to create a clear brand promise.
This is a commitment made between you and your audience. You should live up to them and try to keep your brand promise so strong that customers develop expectations for your brand and at the same time have this belief and trust in you that they know you will deliver.
“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
A brand is not just a logo, a website or your business cards…
It’s an experience. It is the way your customer perceives you.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
– Scott Cook
Just like Batman and Iron Man your branding needs to be build on a strong and independent idea.
An idea that you can identify with, you can commit to and you can deliver it truly.
Branding is the art of being knowable, likeable and trustable.
With a little bit of effort and by learning from all the strategies of these superheroes, we can build strong brand awareness and be superheroes in our own niche, with our target audience, in our own bona fide way.