There’s a good chance that your team doesn’t don capes and fight crime on the weekends. You probably don’t have super powers and don't go toe to toe with the biggest, baddest villains the world has ever seen. There are, however, some lessons you can take away from the wildly popular superhero movies.
While things like courage, perseverance, and the will to help others are all great lessons, there is an entirely different moral to the tales being spun by Marvel and DC — one that may not be obvious on the surface but that is extremely valuable from a branding perspective.
Late last month, we sent around a survey that asked you who your favorite superhero was and why. You all voted, and a massive number of you agreed that Wonder Woman was the most prominent hero on our list, followed by Deadpool, Spider-Man, and Ironman.
Superhero Poll Results:
As you can see, you all had a lot to say about the best superheroes of the modern day — and rightfully so! Between various comic book, television, and movie franchises, there’s a vast universe of heroes and the villains who try to thwart them.
The moves Marvel and DC have made speak volumes about each brand's business strategies.
Marvel, a box office heavyweight, is renown for kicking out blockbusters on a yearly basis. Aside from that, however, Marvel does something that their competitor currently doesn’t: all of their movies exist in the same “Marvel Comic Universe.”
In other words, every single superhero movie they’ve released over the last several decades have all been linked to each other in some way, shape, or form. If one of their films doesn’t have a cameo from another superhero within the main content, you can almost bet that there is an Easter egg after the credits that teases another hero or villain that will be connected in the near future.
This consistency and connectivity is a compelling and winning strategy for Marvel. It works for other brands, too.
Unlike its sworn enemy, DC Comics take a different approach to their movies. Instead of weaving their characters into the same universe, DC have made it a point to focus on each character’s individual stories. The success of this strategy can be seen by how the majority of our voters chose Wonder Woman over any other hero.
From a storytelling standpoint, focusing on individual heroes is a great way to better develop individual characters and build their story arcs. From a branding perspective, however, this approach leaves something to be desired.
The goal of any brand is to engage its customers in a way that builds trust and cultivates a loyal fanbase.
This goal can be achieved by engaging your customers with a unified message. Your brand and everything it does should be connected; it all needs to lead back to your goal.
Returning to our Marvel vs. DC analogy, these two companies have approached a similar market by using two very different strategies, and despite their best efforts, there is one brand that is evidently coming out ahead.
Marvel has managed to engage a wider range of people and bring them all into the same Marvel Comic Universe where they can interact with one another and celebrate their love for the characters Marvel has created. Now, instead of just leaning on one or two movies a year with great singular characters, Marvel is able to build plausible unions between these characters, such as with The Avengers series, so that they can unite fans of their individual characters into one gigantic mashup of drama and value. This, in turn, strengthens the bond their fans have with their products (i.e. the superheroes and their stories) and the Marvel brand.
That’s not to say that DC has done a poor job. They have mastered the art of building strong individual characters with unique traits and motives. But from a branding perspective, this strategy is disparate at best. It is a much stronger business model to spread your brand’s success across a range of cohesive products and services than it is to rely on one money-maker and hope for the best.
At the end of the day, the one thing about your brand that will encourage customers to stay are the senses of engagement, community, and connection you cultivate with them.
When we develop marketing strategies for the brands we represent, we use a wide-angle lens. We consider goals, target customers, and brand values, and then we utilize all the tools in our toolbox as we make a plan. We believe in putting forth a consistent message that will propel your brand forward, superhero style.
Curious about how you can increase your fanbase? Let's connect.