What Batman Teaches Us About the Power of Branding in Content Marketing

Usually I spend the first part of articles like this introducing the elements of the pop culture icon I’m about to dissect. But let’s be honest. You know Batman. I really shouldn’t have to explain who Batman is. But I do want to be clear about how I’m presenting the caped crusader—I’m not talking about the power of the “Batman” brand in our current society (which would be an interesting analysis all on its own). Instead, I’m talking about the power of the “Batman” brand in the comics.

If you look closely at how Batman presents himself, and how he operates successfully on a regular basis, you can walk away with some pretty powerful values to assign to your own content marketing campaign.

Identity

Batman has a clear identity. He’s associated with bats, with the color black, and with Gotham City—and that’s just for starters. Imagine if he didn’t have that consistent look and feel about him. Would we (the people of Gotham City, mind you) be talking about Bruce Wayne at all if he hit the street wearing a different colored suit each time, with no animal representative? I doubt it. Batman built himself into a legend because of his consistent commitment to character building, within his own universe. You’ve got to do the same thing with your content—okay, maybe you don’t have to choose a spirit animal, but your voice, appearance, and approach must be executed consistently.

Logo

The bat signal strikes fear into the hearts of Batman’s enemies (or the sane ones, at least). While you won’t be using your logo explicitly in the body of your content marketing campaign, you should be aware of its strengths and how it can be used in your promotional materials and social media campaigns. Give people visual or contextual symbols that they can associate with your brand—it’s a fundamental element of identity building that allows your consumer-brand relationships to flourish.

Mission

Nobody doubts Batman’s mission because he is regular and consistent. He’s out stopping criminal activity nearly every night, and has never wavered by, say, helping cab drivers find the best paths around the city. His mission is clear, whether you’re a fan of that mission or not. Similarly, you need to make it known in your own content that you have a specific purpose—to help your audience do ____. (You’ll have to fill in the blank yourself).

Target Demographics

What would you think if Batman started targeting jaywalkers in broad daylight? Or if he accidentally accosted an innocent old lady? You’d be pretty confused, wouldn’t you? That’s because Batman has a clear demographic; he’s after the shady dudes of the night committing violent or otherwise destructive crimes, and he wants to protect the good people of Gotham City. Similarly, your content needs to target a specific audience—the more specific the better—or you’ll run the risk of confusing and alienating people more than attracting them.

Weaknesses

Batman has a clear code of conduct; he doesn’t kill people, and he does whatever it takes to save innocent lives (among other rules that we won’t get into). Take a look at his archenemy, the Joker—the Joker takes every opportunity he can to prey on Batman’s weaknesses, the loopholes in his rules. He tries to force Batman to kill. He puts Batman in situations where he must allow innocents to die. This is all pretty evil stuff, but it illustrates something important; following a strict code of rules necessitates a few weaknesses. If you try to be everything, do everything, and speak to everyone in your writing, you’re going to fail. It’s better to select specific rules, specific topics, and a specific audience—even if that has some exploitable weaknesses—because it allows you to become more consistent and more easily appreciated by your fans.

Arkham breakouts aside, Batman does a pretty good job of keeping Gotham clean, and while his gadgets, improvisational skills, and combat experience all help, you can’t deny the role the “Batman brand’ plays in dissuading the criminals of Gotham. Apply these principles to your own brand, and you’ll readily reap the rewards.

photo credit: Batman, Robin, and Harley Quinn via photopin (license)

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