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Why Marvel’s Branding Strategy Is Simply Awesome!

Making A Blockbuster Brand

Examining Marvel's Branding Strategy

Marvel is huge. It’s possibly the biggest entertainment brands out there spanning several mediums and industries. They’ve been making blockbuster after blockbuster for years now, and it’s all because of an amazing branding and marketing strategy.

Let’s take a quick look at what makes Marvel’s marketing and branding strategy so effective.

Picture of Marvel Comics - Cover Picture for The Blog Post Why MCU’s Branding Strategy Is Simply Awesome!

Branding a fictional character isn’t easy. Marvel and DC make it look easy, but creating the perfect superhero takes much more work behind the scenes. They put significant time and effort into developing these characters as humanized brands. Just to help the target audience relate to and associate with them within a short span of a few hours. This is where Marvel’s brand strategy really shines and stands out.

With almost 30 movies already released and many more in production, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become one of the most profitable brands ever created. This isn’t just because of their brilliant production quality or visual effects but also their branding and storytelling. Today we’ll look at what makes Marvel’s branding strategy simply awesome. Let’s see what we can learn from them!

Marvel Uses Great Marketing Strategies

Marvel Studios spends millions of dollars to develop branding and marketing strategies. They work together to deliver a one-two punch that knocks the competition out of the water. That perfect pairing ensures that their movies make a killing at the box office. It also helps their merchandise sell like hotcakes all over the world. They’ve made billions of dollars from their superhero franchises, from the first Iron Man movie to Avengers Endgame, their highest-grossing MCU movie thus far.


Iron Man 1 Poster for The Blog Post Why MCU’s Branding Strategy Is Simply Awesome!

When the studio made the first Iron Man movie, they spent millions on advertising and marketing campaigns. It worked out brilliantly. Their marketing was so effective that they made an estimated $98 million on opening weekend alone from the very first film in the franchise. It made a whopping $585 million at the box office against a budget of $130 million. Add in what they made from the toys and merchandise that are still very popular, and you have a hugely successful first film.

The studio also uses digital very effectively. Their trailers, posters, and graphics go viral instantly, and they’ve perfected the art of using teasers and leaks to hype upcoming movies. The producers also make it a point to connect with their audience and fans by discussing the details of future movies at events like Comic-Con. They follow fan feedback online too.

That helps Marvel develop a rapport with their fans by making them feel that they are heard, that their opinion matters, and that they matter. This connection makes their marketing even more effective.

Post Credits Scenes Tell Their Own Story

In fact, while we’re talking about connections, one of the best and most effective marketing assets that Marvel uses are post-credit scenes. They work as great teasers for the next movie but also humanize their characters even more, like that shawarma scene from the first Avengers movie.

Avengers 1 - The Shawarma Scene

Post-credit scenes were and still are rare, but they are a necessary feature for every MCU entry, and now, perhaps DC too. That said, this trend is not without its merits. Every MCU movie ends with a post-credits scene (or a few) teasing the next one in the franchise or the next big bad to create more hype. Usually, when a movie ends, people start queuing to leave the theater before the end credits have even started rolling. However, people stick around until the projector is turned off after MCU movies just to ensure they don’t miss something important.

Fun Trivia - The Shawarma Scene

That iconic shawarma scene wasn’t originally part of the movie. It was shot and added in after the premiere because Robert Downey Jr. thought it would make for a better ending. Shawarma sales jumped in the US after that scene.

Marvel Movies Inspire You, Move You

Superhero movies are an escape from reality for most fans. Life can be a struggle, and we get bogged down with our troubles every now and then. This is one area where the Marvel Cinematic Universe really shines. They make inspiring, feel-good movies that help people cope with everyday life while inspiring them to be real-life heroes themselves. That is significant. This humanizing factor helps Marvel connect with the audience to the point where a superhero’s death fills the cinema with silent gasps, sobs, and tears.

Avengers Endgame - The I Am Iron Man Scene

We all shed a tear at the end of Avengers Endgame or when Nat leaped off that cliff, sacrificing herself so that Hawkeye could make it back to his family. When Thanos pushed Gamora off that same cliff earlier, we all gasped and were filled with rage at her death. We felt it when Wanda fell apart after putting in all she had to save Vision, only to be forced to take his life with her own hands. Then when she tried to bring him back and build the family she always wanted, we wanted her to have her happy ending, which she sadly could not have.

Avengers Endgame - The Avengers Assemble Scene

Avengers Assemble!

On the flip-side, every time Captain America said “Avengers Assemble,” our “Spidey Sense” tingled, and we rallied. We cheered when Captain Marvel entered the fight in Endgame and when Ms. Marvel first said “embiggen.”

Remember when Peter stepped up to be the hero he was always meant to be in Far From Home when he used the printer on Happy’s jet to design his new suit? Did you notice that Happy saw a glimpse of Tony in him? Did you look at Peter the same way too? All that adds up.

In fact, even the Marvel Studios logo animation features some of the most inspiring scenes from their movies.

Speaking of which…

Spider-Man Far From Home - Peter Being Tony Scene

The Marvel Studios Logo Design

Every superhero movie in the MCU starts with an intro animation for the Marvel Studios logo, with the colors, scenes, and music customized for that superhero theme. That in and of itself is a huge branding and marketing win. Not only does it build anticipation for the movie from a marketing perspective, but it also shows off how amazingly versatile the Marvel’s branding strategy is. With just a few minor changes, the logo goes from representing that superhero brand to representing the studio and is a treat to watch for fans. That is how far ahead Marvel is in branding alone.

Marvel Studios Logo for The Blog Post Why MCU’s Branding Strategy Is Simply Awesome!

Marvel’s logo itself stands out because of its simplicity and use of iconic typography over the bright red background for higher contrast and visibility. The words Marvel and Studios balance each other visually and highlight the former even more. This simplicity makes it one of the best type-only logos out there. It also makes the logo much more versatile and longer lasting.

Universality and Continuity are Marvel's Branding Strategy

That is another thing they have going for them. The Marvel brand strategy has evolved over the years, but they’ve stayed focused on universality and continuity. In fact, they emphasize these two qualities in every one of their superhero franchises. Everything is connected and meshed for more continuity in the Marvel universe. The branding still follows what Stan Lee envisioned when he created the first Marvel superhero family and laid the foundation for Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This continuity and universality ensure heightened brand recognition and awareness, especially since the first Iron Man and Captain America movies came out.

Stan Lee With Chadwick Boseman

Using Cultural Touchpoints to Tell Stories Better

Another major plus-point for Marvel is how the brand uses cultural touchpoints and pop-culture references (superheroes being one of them). Movies like Shang Chi or shows like Ms. Marvel that are literally built around other cultures help Marvel connect with a much broader audience. They also help everyone else understand these cultures better. That shawarma post-credit scene made many people try that Arab fast food for the first time.

Ms. Marvel - Rooftop Training Scene

See, culture plays a huge role in branding and marketing. Using cultural touchpoints properly can make you an instant hit with a much broader audience. It helps boost your brand recognition too. People remember brands that put them front and center and highlight their culture.

Using Merchandising for Marketing

Marvel Studios also uses merchandising very effectively for marketing. They launch new lines of toys and merch for every one of their movies just before release as a marketing tool to hype things up. It works brilliantly.

They have a long list of merchandise available for every hero and movie released thus far, and this list keeps growing. That is a hugely profitable business itself, and Marvel has made millions from merchandise and toys alone.

Merchandise that you can use too

Marvel Uses Strategic Brand Alliances for Marketing

Marvel also frequently highlights certain brands in their movies, and that product placement isn’t just a coincidence. Strategic brand alliances are a great asset for marketing. These product placements, especially with companies with a strong brand presence like Audi, Lays, and Gillette, are crucial for marketing MCU movies. Such alliances help in promoting their brands to an even bigger audience.

Now you know why Tony always drove an Audi in almost every single MCU movie he was in.

So, Why Is Marvel’s Branding Strategy So Awesome?

The TL;DR answer: because they put their audience first. The MCU makes it a point to connect with its broader audience and follow fan feedback very closely. They emphasize local cultures and use them to tell their stories better, so much so that that has become an integral part of their brand culture. Marvel accepts and celebrates diversity, welcoming the world with open arms. They place emphasis on you.

We’ll be doing more feature pieces on other brands that are getting everything right (or wrong) in the future to help you make better branding decisions. Be sure to follow us on social media so that you don’t miss out on something that could help your business grow.

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