How Spider-Man Can Help Your Brand Keep Its Edge

Want better branding? Stop thinking about web design, and start thinking about web slinging.
How Spider-Man Can Help Your Brand Keep Its Edge
Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Guest Writer
Co-founder of SchoolSafe
5 min read
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Marketers seeking wellsprings of inspiration would do well to take inspiration from the recently announced nominations for the 2019 Academy Awards. In fact, marketing teams might want to ditch the ho-hum status meeting this week and head to the nearest cinema to check out Best Animated Feature nominee “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

It turns out the innovative animated reimagining of the Stan Lee comic offers a host of branding possibilities for creatives tired of boring, predictable storytelling formulas and looking for something new to help their brand maintain its competitive edge. One viewing of this novel twist on a classic Marvel Comics tale will surely produce more than an itsy-bitsy amount of original, unprocessed creativity to move your branding strategy in a new direction.

Related: Maintain Your Competitive Advantage by Focusing on Your Most Valuable Asset -- You

Branding with fresh fangs.

Skeptical that a family-friendly, feature-length film studded with comic book design elements could clear the cobwebs from your marketing campaigns? Don’t be. Many of the film’s directorial, script and production choices can serve as jumping-off points for marketers seeking stronger consumer connections and an authentic brand voice.

1. Powerful visuals without the venom of mediocrity.

What makes this Spider-Man adaptation visually memorable? In addition to computerized 3D animation, the film’s creators sought opportunities to include nods to old-fashioned comic book drawing techniques and styles. From unexpected captions to lightning-fast inside jokes, the movie commands attention from both the eye and the ear.

This technique could be a smart decision for your brand messaging as well, especially as 65 percent of people learn best through visuals. Carl Reed, co-founder and chief creative officer at Lion Forge Labs, knows how meaningful, memorable and powerful animation can be. “Savvy marketers are turning to captivating media for driving their brands’ stories forward,” he notes. “Comics are an excellent choice for this. They are great for explaining abstract principles and are limited only by the imagination of the artists.”

Spidey sense suggestion: If your group has had trouble expressing a tough-to-describe concept, why not experiment with comic-style visuals? Consider the visual aspects of your corporate branding. Although cartooning may seem appropriate mainly in the realm of infographics, it can be effective elsewhere. Map out what story you want to tell, and take stock of your resources (i.e., creative talent capable of illustrating a comic). If you don’t have the resources you need on staff, you can always hire a freelancer or an agency to handle the comic creation.

Related: How to Create the Stunning Visuals Critical to Startup Success

2. Relatable characters woven into a well-considered story.

Spoiler alert: The film takes place in an alternate universe. In fact, many universes converge in this animated Oscar front-runner. Yet the story seems wholly believable because the characters are fleshed-out and genuine. Consider the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. He makes his entrance not as a slim, fit guy ready to take on the baddies, but as a paunchy Gen Xer mired in a midlife crisis of sorts.

Peter may have mad spider skills, but he’s no different from the neighbor down the street. In other words, moviegoers see him not as unrelatable, but as a familiar persona. Brands must create identities with this type of relatability in mind, and they can do it by generating stories that connect with their preferred audiences. Buyers are drawn in by accessible brands that humanize the business behind the product or service.

Spidey sense suggestion: To become a relatable brand, craft a message that accurately represents your intended audience, meets your audience members where they are, and helps you earn consumer trust. For instance, Old Spice, once associated with a predominantly older demographic, began targeting a younger male audience with campaigns that included hosting interactive live streams. By using a platform that its target demographic prefers, the company was able to better relate to that audience.

3. A different perspective on an old standard.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” proves that no matter how well-worn a story is, it can always be viewed from a unique perspective. The creators of the film didn’t force another prequel or sequel on viewers, but infused the Spider-Man franchise with a fresh blend of characters and situations.

Legacy brands that think they can never shed their too-tight skin are ripe for this type of reinvention. Smart branding, like good storytelling, involves taking risks. Your company might not want to go the irreverent mile that the Spider-Verse sometimes does, but you can’t attract young consumers with dated imagery and concepts.

Related: 6 Ways to Modernize Your Brand While Staying True to Your Legacy

Spidey sense suggestion: Stay true to your core values while simultaneously giving prospects a new way to think about your brand. Take McDonald’s, which was fighting the image of being branded an unhealthy hamburger chain. The company rebranded to be more health-conscious, offering lighter meal options and revamping its locations to offer a cafe-like atmosphere. This new image is still in line with the fast-food giant’s brand mission to be its customers’ favorite place to eat and drink, and clearly, customers agree. The company’s stock has more than doubled since it started this rebranding shift about four years ago.

If you want to remain at the leading edge of modern branding strategies, look no further than today’s Oscar-nominated films for inspiration. With great marketing power comes great marketing responsibility.

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