Teleportation, X-Ray vision, time travel, telepathy, regeneration—let’s face it, superheroes are cool. They can do things we only wish that we could. It’s a fun, escapist adventure to see life through their eyes. But even superheroes have their weaknesses, which just makes them that much more endearing. While their prowess is admirable, their humanity makes them relatable.
But they also serve, in a sense, as brands — iconic figures, complete with logos and instantly familiar personalities. So what can today’s brands learn from today’s superheroes?
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
Who would have thought that characters in capes and face masks would become beloved cultural figures? But superheroes have cornered the market. They are instantly recognizable in every country and in every language. Similarly, to secure the longevity of your company’s brand, make sure your brand image is clear—both the services you offer (your super-powers) and the values you uphold (your moral code).
Another reason these larger-than-life characters are so popular with the public is our ability to see both sides of them—their public face and their secret identity.
No matter how secretive the superhero, we’re all aware who’s lurking behind the mask; Batman is actually billionaire Bruce Wayne, and mild-mannered Peter Parker is the elusive Spider-Man. In this light, brands should always be completely transparent with consumers — including those staff who are on board and behind the scenes at these businesses. A perfect example, the “About Us” page on a website is actually the second most popular place people view when visiting a company’s website. Customers shouldn’t be guessing or making assumptions about who is part of the team or what a brand’s “origin story” is.
PROTECTING AGAINST KRYPTONITE
What threatens to take you down is as powerful as the strengths you possess. For brands, a loss of trust with consumers will cripple a company just as quickly as a little rock from a faraway planet decimated Superman. Reviews and testimonials available on social media sites need to be monitored carefully. It’s also important to quickly respond to questions, comments, and concerns. In the latter part of 2018 there was a data breach that had Facebook’s founder losing face when testifying before Congress. Mark Zuckerberg alienated countless Facebook users and lost billions of dollars in net worth.
As a company, it’s important to know where you’re most vulnerable, and have a plan in place to deal with any “Kryptonite outbreaks” — be ready to make like a superhero and swoop in with a quick remedy. And remember, customers expect professional service, but they also respond to humility and generosity.
ACTION, NOT WORDS
Super villains like to talk — oh, how they love to go on about their plans for world domination. But superheroes focus on action, not words. They look and listen for danger and then leap into action. The most successful companies have a similar priority — rather than telling customers what they’re going to do, they listen for what needs doing, and then take care of business. To put it simply, they focus on customer service. A recent article in Forbes presented a list that compiled three years of data that determined who has the best customer service.
One customer in this survey stated that, “Trader Joe’s products are the standard by which I measure other stores. From the selection of products that you can only get there to the quality of service you can get nowhere else they’re always my first choice.”
Some of the other reoccurring traits of these top companies are being courteous, delivering outstanding service, and listening to their customers.
BE READY FOR THE BAT-SIGNAL
We all have moments where we wish we could call on superhuman strength. As a company, you have strengths your customers seek to tap into. To endear yourself to them, take a page out of the successful exploits of pop culture’s superheroes.
Determine your unique set of powers and the principles you stand for, and make them clearly visible to your customers.
Market your company as one that values its customers and offers solutions for problems they can’t solve. Make it clear to them that your business exists to help them in times of need.
And finally, always listen carefully to your customers — and be sure to act swiftly when they send up the Bat-Signal!