Ever since Marvel Studios took a chance on one of its lesser-known properties with Iron Man back in 2008, it's continued to cut a path for itself that is truly unique. With a universe of wildly disparate characters and a tightly woven narrative across multiple franchises, Marvel has created a consumer experience that offers consumers an exciting antidote to the more self-contained and sombre fare being pushed by Warner Brothers' DC properties. The strategy has left Warner Brothers and other studios struggling to catch up, whilst Marvel seemingly goes from strength to strength.
Brand Management Lesson: Find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition, and be prepared to take calculated risks in order to achieve it. You might both offer the same product, but there is always a way to create a unique consumer experience that will foster loyalty and recognition.
Build A Consistent Universe
One of Marvel Studios' key differentiators is the 'MCU' - Marvel Cinematic Universe. With characters from different time-periods, mythologies and planets all coexisting in the same seamless story line, Marvel has found a way to give each individual franchise its own flavour whilst simultaneously providing a richer long-term experience for moviegoers. Each film may have a different director, but Marvel's executive team has carefully guided the MCU as a whole, with each new movie adding exponentially to its brand equity.
Brand Management Lesson: Make sure that all of your consumer touchpoints and media channels are managed as part of a cohesive strategy for promoting your brand, whilst also acknowledging that different channels may need a slightly different approach.
Tell Long-Term Stories
Until Marvel Studios came along, every superhero franchise was rebooted each time the director or star quit. That seemed to work just fine. Now, by creating an ongoing narrative juggernaut that passes the baton from one character to the next without missing a beat, Marvel has created the conditions for moviegoers to become more invested and engaged in their movies than ever before. The Iron Man franchise is over, but we're still going to see Robert Downey Jr in The Avengers 2 and 3 (in 2015 and 2019, respectively), and we still get to spend time with his buddies Thor and Captain America. Marvel doesn't have the same uphill struggle that Sony Pictures had getting the audience to warm to the new Spider-Man for 2012's unnecessary franchise reboot. Thanks to strategic long-term storytelling, Marvel Studios is now a towering media colossus.
Brand Management Lesson: Thinking about how to manage and position your brand over the long-term is essential to developing the rich and consistent consumer experience that makes brands successful. Short-term storytelling is great for generating consumer engagement, but long-term storytelling is essential for keeping it.
So there you have it. Excellent brand strategy advice, courtesy of Marvel Studios.
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