Brand Superheroes: Why Being Real Matters Now More Than Ever

superman

ALL SUPERHEROES ARE THE SAME.

Their power may differ, their purpose may vary – but all superheroes share an undeniable bond to each other and an unbreakable bond with the public.

Being real.

Superheroes are true to who there are, whether to their strengths (Superman) or to their flaws (Batman.) When Superman says he fights for truth and justice he means it – it’s not an empty campaign promise.

Brand superheroes are no different. You can’t say your purpose is one thing and then do another. You can’t say your power is for good if you use it to do evil. You can’t live your story if your story is built on a lie.

The First Casualty of the Internet is Truth

We live in a world of content. This is not a bad thing – we are arguably the most informed generation in history.

But being informed is not the same as being educated; information is not synonymous with objectivity or truth.

When everything is content, it gets harder to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fantasy. Without any gatekeepers, the flow of news becomes a Lord of the Flies Island of anarchy.

We need real heroes to change the dynamic and stem the tide of post-truth communication tactics. Brands today have a unique opportunity to cut through the digital morass and connect with audiences on a real emotional level – to live the stories they tell and lift the common discourse. All it takes is a commitment to the following:

  • Be trustworthy
  • Be grateful
  • Be positive
  • Be generous
  • Be humble
  • Be yourself

The Challenge for 2017 and Beyond – Reboot Reality

Author Nicolas Negroponte talked about the “Daily Me,” or the ability of people to customize their digital feeds to the point of excluding all information they didn’t like or agree with – to in effect create their own realities.

Negroponte said this in 1995 – 21 years before the polarizing social media election of 2016. It’s far too easy, as we saw this past election cycle, to create misleading “news” or to replace facts with memes.

To those brands who would take advantage of this new reality, who would gladly cloud well-intentioned minds using all available and legal digital slight of hand, I would just say this – Don’t.

You are better than that. We as a society deserve better than that. We need heroes we can look up to and trust, so don’t let us down.

Find your power, your core brand truth, and make it matter. Embrace your purpose and use it to live your authentic story – and in doing so, connect with your audience in ways beyond purchase or profit.

If there’s anything brand marketers should learn from the recent U.S. election, it’s that people aren’t data. Not everyone wants a high-concept message or has aspirations beyond their local communities and families –most people just want to be understood, and the way we communicate needs to reflect this more practical approach.

Real heroes listen before they speak. They are part of the communities they serve. Polls and big data pipelines are useful but they aren’t conversations – it’s time for brands to go back “into the field” and re-establish points of empathy between brand and customer.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Peter Parker/Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said. It is the ultimate enduring maxim for great heroes and mere mortals alike.

Please, use your power wisely. Be the brand superhero we need you to be.

Read Part I, Brand Superheroes: What’s Your Origin Story?

Read Part II, Brand Superheroes: Finding Your Power and Purpose

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