Seafoam Sessions 1.4 | What brands can learn from your favorite superheroes…

By Seafoam Media
Industry Insights  •  Seafoam Spotlight

You wouldn’t be amiss to wonder what your favorite superheroes have to do with your brand — yes, your brand.

There’s a good chance that your team doesn’t don capes and fight crime on the weekends (at least if they did, they certainly wouldn’t tell you about it). No, you don’t have super powers or go toe to toe with the biggest, baddest villain the world has ever seen thus far.

And while things like courage, perseverance, and the will to help others are all great lessons to take from the latest superhero box office hits, there is an entirely different moral to the tales that are being spun by the likes of Marvel and DC — one that may not be obvious on the surface but that is extremely valuable from a branding perspective.

Who is your favorite superhero and why?

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.

Before you keep reading, check out the rest of the survey results here. What pattern do you see? How do you think this pattern came to be?

What can brands learn from today’s most powerful superheroes?

Okay, okay, there’s probably not a ton your brand can learn from the superheroes, themselves, but the moves their creators – Marvel and DC – have made speaks volumes for where both brands are within their current business strategies.

A Marvelous Tale to Tell

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.

The DC Dive

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, there leaves something to be desired.

Consistency in branding.

The goal of any brand is to engage its customers in a way that builds trust and cultivates a loyal fanbase. Repeat that word: 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.

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What's your seashore? | Part One | The Story Behind the Name