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Bad Brand v Super Brand: Dawn of Justice 1

This weekend, I saw Batman v Superman. I won’t be reviewing the movie in this piece. That’s not what I do. But it got me thinking about what I do every day, which is integrated marketing.

The movie is all about superheroes. A plethora of them were introduced, so I need to digress briefly: I think DC Comics introduced Wonder Woman, Aqua Man, Cyborg and others because they are ten years behind Marvel Comic movies. Digression over. Who doesn’t love superheroes? As the movie started, people were shouting “Team Superman!” “Team Batman!” and “Team Wonder Woman!” We were all there because we were on some team superhero bandwagon. No one shouted “Team Lois Lane!” (although Amy Adams did a nice job with the character).

Denise Vitola, marketing director at Makovsky
Denise Vitola, managing director, Makovsky

We all sat there enamored by the characters’ strength and heroism, just as we’ve been doing since childhood.

That’s what led me to think about what I do every day. Simply put, I try to make my clients, their services, their brands become superheroes in their own right with their audiences. The parallels are uncanny.

So how does one become what I will call a “Super Brand?” Is Apple a Super Brand? Is Nike? Let’s look.

A Super Brand must have four characteristics similar to superheroes:

  1. Extraordinary Abilities
  2. Courage
  3. Strong Moral Code
  4. Ability to be resourceful and innovative

Let’s look at each one.

  1. Extraordinary Abilities 

You might be thinking «How’s this possible?» It’s easy for Superman, who was born on Krypton and is faster than a speeding bullet, but brands can display extraordinary abilities too. Take the new Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge. When some thought it impossible to have your wet phone survive, Samsung made that and many other cool features available to the end user. Does that mean brands must be all about R&D, technology and innovation? Well, kind of. We are in a fast-moving world where technology and innovation are king. We as consumers want products and services to do more. In order to be a Super Brand, you must show your end user your extraordinary abilities.

  1. Courage

When Wonder Woman comes on the scene in the movie for the first time dressed in her superhero duds, she’s there to fight Doomsday. Now, Doomsday is a big, ugly dude. Wonder Woman shows exemplary courage. She’s one tough lady.

Brands too can be courageous. They can demonstrate courage by believing in something, and standing up for a cause, as Salesforce is doing with the LGBT community. Brands can also do this through partnerships, such as when a brand partners with a celebrity to show their commitment to an issue. Or when they come out strong after a crisis: Whether Chipotle is doing things right or wrong right now, one must admit they are demonstrating courage. Their consumers will come back.

  1. Strong Moral Code

No one would argue that our superheroes don’t have a very strong moral code. For example, Superman won’t alter time, and Spider-Man could certainly swing from a building into a bank and rob it, but he chooses to use his powers to help save humanity (especially Mary Jane Watson).

As for brands, now more than ever it’s hugely important to demonstrate a strong moral code. Why? Because it is one of the main characteristics that matters to millennials. You know, that group of humans that brands are trying to figure out how to reach and bond with. P&G’s “Dawn” brand does a good job at this by putting wildlife front and center, rather than the product’s benefits.

  1. Resourceful and Innovative

When Batman wanted to eliminate Superman, he knew he could not overcome Superman’s strength, but he was resourceful and innovative with his approach. To avoid spoiling the movie, I won’t say how, but go see his resourcefulness in action in the movie.

Brands must show resourcefulness as well by showing that they can pivot to meet their targets’ needs. Specifically, brands need to be resourceful in reaching end users. Don’t keep going with the traditional tried and true tactics; they’ve stopped working. Try something new, such as social media or paid partnerships. If you’ve never used influencers before, give them a try. Consumers are getting bored with brands. The way they absorb media, interact with companies and even shop is so different today. To be a Super Brand, you must be resourceful and innovative in the way you talk to the target audience.

To look at it from this angle, Apple and Nike could be our Batman and Superman of brands.

While superheroes are fantasy, trying to be a Super Brand is not. It’s totally achievable and something I am committed to helping my clients achieve. After all, I do wake up every day thinking I have superhero strength, so I am happy to pass that on to those I work with.

Denise Vitola is managing director at Makovsky. Follow her: @DeniseVitola

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