When I say Superman, you probably know who I’m talking about.

You probably know what he looks like, what his chest insignia looks like, and what values he stands for. The same is true for most of the well-known superheroes.

  1. They have a clear and memorable visual brand.
  2. They have a clear Brand message that communicates their values.
  3. They are unlikely to be confused with anyone else, even the copycats.

Each of these are goals that every person or company trying to build a Brand is after.

If you are looking to build your Brand, here are the four lessons you should learn from Superheroes.

1. Make it memorable

  • Even if you’ve never heard of The Flash, you can probably guess something about him.
  • When you first learned of a character called The Invisible Woman, I bet you could already tell me one thing about her.
  • If you found out there was a character called Magneto, what would you guess his powers are?

The names and symbols of the most memorable and iconic Superheroes, convey information about them. It can tell us what their powers are, what their costume looks like, or what values they stand for.

We remember them because they’re extraordinary, but also because their visual brand makes sense and the names are often short and clear. Even in cases where the name or symbolism is vague, it is usually still distinctive and unique.

Lesson #1: Make sure they can remember you.

2. You must stand for something

The bat symbol shining high in the sky of Gotham or the stars and stripes of Captain America’s shield, have come to represent more than just a person.

Beyond capes, cowls, and spandex, the names and symbols of superheroes evolve to represent ideas like justice, self-sacrifice, and perseverance.

What makes the names and symbols (visual brand) of superheroes unique is that they stand for something. Companies could learn a thing or two from that.

Lesson #2: Make your Brand stand for something.

3. You must back it up

If you knew there was a character named The Flash and one called The Reverse Flash, how would you know which was the good guy and which was the bad guy? You’d have to see what they do, right?

But none of these characters are measured by the strength of their monologues or cleverness of their names, but by how they apply their feats of strength and the number of people they save.

Many villains have compelling stories and are persuasive in their vision for the future. Much of the time, they see themselves as the heroes of the story. It’s their actions that tell us who they really are.

Lesson #3: Your actions build your brand more than what you say

4. From the Special Anniversary Issue

No hero earned a reputation in their first comic book appearance.

They earn their reputation over hundreds of stories that show how they make decisions under pressure. We see what they value because of what they continue to do in issue #505 that they talked about in issue #1.

However, this consistency is not built on perfection. Every superhero has comic book runs where they make mistakes, where people get hurt, where they give in to their darker side. They also typically follow up their mistakes with a redemption arc.

The consistency is created through a continued commitment to purpose.

Lesson #4: Keep showing up and reinforcing what you believe over time.

The Art of Heroic Branding

When I consult companies on building a Brand, we start with an important question:

What does your company care about enough that it would keep doing even if it failed to make money or even if it cost you money?

If you cannot identify a purpose more important than money, then your purpose is to make money. When money is your purpose, you will go wherever you can make money and you are liable to do whatever offers the prospect of profit.

To build a brand that is memorable, unique, and meaningful, you have to be able to see through the fog of “the market.”

Nearly every company would kill to be as iconic and memorable as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or Wonder Woman. While all of those characters would willingly sacrifice their lives to save the world, few companies will even sacrifice from their profits to do something meaningful.

Let’s build better Brands. We can start by learning from Superheroes.

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