Superman vs. Clark Kent

Ozana Lisandra
Published
2015-03-19

One Google search away, there are thousands and thousands of articles talking about the initial branding of your business. However, what about rebranding? Is it given the merit and attention it rightfully deserves? Rebranding works as a scale - it can range from the smallest adjustments to a logo and reiteration of company values to full-blown business identity overhaul, coming in all shapes and sizes. It can be seen as a natural evolution or disruptive event in the course of a company's history. So far, it is quite difficult to constrain the idea of rebranding inside a very limited box, which paradoxically is rebranding's main function: making sure that your business is recognisable and memorable, while carefully exploring and going beyond its boundaries.

Rebranding is one of the most complex, creatively demanding marketing strategies available today. It directly contributes to a company's influence and increases or decreases its following. Rebranding can be partial (e.g. sparked by the addition of new products/services or the need for a visual refresh) or total (such as in the case of company defamation or two companies merging).

Anyway, you might wonder what this lengthy introduction has to do with one of the most iconic figures in the comic book universe. Well, when you think about it, isn't Superman the perfect embodiment of rebranding? His transition from average, easily forgettable Clark Kent to everyone's favourite cape-wearing hero can be paralleled to a company's own process of rebranding. So, in this article, I will look at the transition analysing three aspects (and their corporate equivalents): visual presentation, personality and the impact on surrounding elements. Sure, some might dismiss this article because it starts with a silly premise - what do you mean, explaining marketing angles using pop culture icons to illustrate it! However, if you're a fan of unusual combinations and twists, this article may be your cup of tea. Let's get straight to it, shall we?

Your look

Superman changing his clothes in the street, an alley or an elevator is one of those gestures that made him famous. With it, Clark Kent transforms into a caped superhero out to save Metropolis from any danger. In terms of physical aspect, Clark Kent is - at best - mundane: an average reporter, always dressed in bland suits, ties and fedoras, with thick-rimmed glasses and a briefcase, identical to millions of 9-5 corporatists. At the other end of the spectrum lies Superman: bold red and blue hues, super hair that somehow always stays fixed despite flying at incredible speeds and even an over the top element of surprise, with the whole underwear-over-leggings thing. But how does this translate when it comes to a company's visual identity?

First of all, rebranding has the benefit of making you instantly recognisable and shining a spotlight on you in the vast sea of competitors out there. By making a bold move, you differentiate yourself from others and become memorable to your clients. Secondly, the effect of cultural trends is that, while at one point your brand or logo looks fresh and unique, in a few years other companies that opt for the same style seemingly pop up everywhere and thus make yours appear generic. Which is why it is recommended to sit down and re-evaluate your brand's message regularly and make sure it is modern, updated, honest. Moreover, if you choose one element that is so out of the ordinary no one else has thought about incorporating it before, you will surely be associated with that innovative, forward type of thinking. After all, you don't see anyone making fun of Superman for his underwear, but at the same time the citizens haven't started wearing theirs inside out, you know? He is still unique, albeit eccentric (which is not necessarily a bad thing!)

Your thoughts

When it comes to personality and values, it can be quite difficult to make sure they are properly, clearly represented in your brand and overall image. Strong personalities stay embedded in the customer's mind for a longer period of time. Continuing with our example, what do you most remember about Clark Kent? He is generally described as introverted, conservative, keeps to himself and distant. On the other hand, Superman is powerful, dependable, heroic, confident, sociable, kind, a role model and bastion of light.

See how rebranding has the power to take the same entity from one end of the spectrum to the opposite? It can do the same for your business, whatever the industry. Carefully and considerately choose your best attributes and then make sure they are highlighted and brought forward in a tasteful way. The results are sure to be seen immediately, ranging from an increase in number of customers to growing positive reviews and everything in between. But more about the effects of rebranding, in the next section of this article.

Your impact

How does your company impact the general public? What do you think are the words most often associated with your services? Obviously, knowing the impression you first leave on potential leads and customers proves to be a great advantage in terms of readjusting to fit a certain market gap. Your image has direct effects on the public's perception of you, but have you stopped to wonder how to take into account that same perception in order to refresh your image? This can be a very productive two-way street: set a standard that shapes people's minds while at the same time caring enough about those minds to adjust the standard as it flows, demonstrating flexibility and customer care.

Yes, Clark Kent may not elicit a powerful reaction from those around him. He blends in with the background, which is - after all - his intention since the beginning. His whole persona is the result of careful planning. Yet, when Superman takes the scene, he does not plan for the public's reaction beforehand. It is one of enthusiasm, admiration, gratitude mixed with honesty and raw emotions. It's best to strive to give that feeling to your consumers as well - make them happy to simply see your business somewhere, interact in any way with it and appreciate all you have to give, especially attention to their needs.

After all, the benefits of rebranding include a fresh, updated image, a stronger visual identity, transmitting powerful company values and having a positive effect on the public. While there is nothing supernatural in it, rebranding does have the superpower of bringing brands back from the dead and making them popular and appreciated again, or the opposite - bad choices can send a company straight to the ground. As you can see, with great rebranding comes great responsibility and it needs to be in the hands of good people that use it well, keeping in mind both the end customer and the company itself. So, which one do you choose to be: the drab, unimpressive Clark Kent or the all-around loved Superman?