The top three brand attributes of the Superman brand are: Invincible, Idealistic, and Inspirational. The term “invincible” adequately describes Superman’s strength, durability, indestructible nature, and god-like power. Superman is “idealistic” in that he conforms to an ultimate standard of morality and excellence, even at times to his own detriment. Superman is “inspirational” because his strength and power, and righteousness and character, can and do inspire others to live better lives.
The promises of the Superman brand can be summed up by his actions. He always fights for what’s right, does not stand to see injustice prevail, will not resort to evil to overcome evil, always takes the high road though it cost more, and is always consistent in character: a solid rock of morality.
Top Three Features and Benefits
The top three features of the brand are wrapped up in Superman’s own iconic catch-phrase, “truth, justice, and the American way.” The truth (in today’s world of half-truths and outright lies) gives customers hope that truth will prevail. Superman’s justice can first be seen in Action Comics #1, released in 1938, as Superman rescues battered wives from abusive husbands. With it, customers gain satisfaction and peace of mind in that, though the world is full of evil, there is still justice to be found. Finally, “the American way,” within the US, helps to unite Americans with a sense of national pride and patriotism whenever they see something featuring the Man of Steel (although internationally, this holds little benefit).
Emotionally, the Superman brand fills people with hope, in goodness prevailing over darkness, in the ideals of truth and justice, and in living to higher standards, either moral or personal.
Superman’s brand archetype is commonly referred to as “Hero” and I mostly agree. Superman is deeply Heroic – he is a warrior, principled, an idealist, challenges “wrongs,” improves the world, and sacrifices himself for the greater good. However, over time, Superman as a brand has evolved beyond mere hero and approached the archetype of Ruler. For example, Superman wields his god-like powers with near ultimate authority, and is able to change the course of world events as he sees fit. Additionally, as HeroWithin.com writes, “The Ruler archetype inspires us to take responsibility for our own lives, in our fields of endeavor, and in the society at large.” (Archetypes101, n.d.).
The Superman brand’s primary competition is Batman. Both are incredibly iconic superhero brands, but Batman is cinematically stronger and more recognized because of that. The Batman movies created a very realistic, Everyman, Batman with personal struggles and demons that anyone could identify with. Batman is much easier for an audience to identify with particularly due to his humanity. That leaves the question: How human should they make Superman?
The Iconic “S” Logo
The Superman “S” logo has evolved over time, showing a progressive change. From the very first “S” on Action Comics #1 in 1938 to the latest Superman movie, the “S” logo has been on a shield with yellow, red, and sometimes black colors. The logo has undergone stylistic changes over the years, depending on the artist, time period, or medium, but it has always “respect[ed] the equities that exist within the design.” (Capsule, 2007, p. 118).
Overall, the Superman brand has a very strong, and long, history with iconic symbols, memorable quotes, and high moral character. However, with corruption and greed highly visible all over the world, the Superman brand needs to be updated to better address the modern morality crisis. Superman needs to be made more relatable and relevant by exploring his human characteristics further. And the brand needs to branch away from “the American way” to target a much more diverse international crowd. Superman protects EARTH, not just America. It’s time for Superman to become an international icon, not just an American one.
What about you?
What do you think of Superman and all he and/or the brand entails? What is needed for a Superman Movie reboot? What can make Superman more relevant to today’s society?
Archetypes101. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2010 from http://www.herowithin.com/arch101.html
Capsule. (2007). Logos. Massachusetts, USA: Rockport Publishers.