I Went to Wakanda Four Times. Here’s What I Learned about Branding and Marketing
Yes, you read that right. I went to Wakanda, not 1…not 2…not 3….but 4 times! And I plan to sneak off a 5th before Inifity Wars drops at the end of April. To say that Disney, Marvel Studios, Ryan Coogler, and the cast gave us a masterpiece is an understatement and the numbers prove it. Black Panther was the number one movie at the box office for five consecutive weeks and has grossed over a 1 billion dollars worldwide. Black Panther is a brilliant film that displays the cultural diversity of the African Diaspora. It is also an allegory that examines the divide between Africans and African Americans. While I was fascinated by the storytelling in Black Panther, I also found a few gems about branding and marketing too. Here are 5 things Black Panther taught me about marketing and branding.
Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
Shuri was right when she told her brother, T’Challa that there’s always room for improvement. T’Challa’s suit may have good for taking down the soldiers in Nigeria, but the new suit allowed him to fight greater battles. It absorbed the kinetic energy from bullets and allow him to use it as a weapon against his enemies.
While you may be doing good today, you have to constantly evolve while consistently providing your audience with value. Always be an active listener and study your audience’s behaviors and motivations. Track your analytics to see how your audience responds to your messaging. Study industry trends and when the time comes, don’t be afraid to pivot. Brand evolution is a constant process.
Be mindful. The world is watching.
If you ask me, T’Challa had every right to kill Klaue when he pulled up on him in South Korea. He executed a terrorist attack on his country and thinks the Wakandans are subhuman. However, Nakia and Okoye had to pull T’Challa back and remind him that people were watching and recording them on social media. While T’Challa may have been justified in killing Klaue, doing an execution live on the internet would not have been a good luck.
Somebody’s always watching even when you think they are not (tweet that). Everything you do and say particularly on a social media is a representation of your brand. You are constantly shaping your audience’s perception by what you share with the world. Even when you are justified in your anger against someone, social media is not the place to share your grievances. Always think before you post.
Execution is everything.
My dear Killmonger. As a Black American, I totally empathized with Erik Killmonger’s pain, trauma, and rebel spirit; however, his execution was absolutely terrible! While Killmonger spoke about a revolution to free oppressed Black people around the world, what he really wanted was power and revenge. If Killmonger’s plan would have been successful it would have created chaos and destruction. He would have killed the very people he was trying to liberate. Killmonger, in the words of T’Challa, became the very people he hated. You cannot be effective from a place of brokenness and rage because it distorts your worldview (tweet that). Good ideas. Bad execution.
You can have the best ideas in the world, but if you do not execute them properly, they will fail. Before you launch a new campaign, product, or service, think through all of the details and logistics. Evaluate all the possible outcomes. Think about how it will impact your audience and how they would respond. How many times have we seen major brands pull an advertising campaign because their audience was offended? Test your ideas on your audience if you can. You may discover something you did not know.
In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the fool builds barriers.
You say the wrong thing in an interview. Somebody pulls up something scandalous from your past. Your current, messy business hits the internet. You cannot always prevent a brand crisis from happening, but you can control how you respond to it. How you respond can help you either help you build a bridge with your audience or completely alienate them. If you find yourself in crisis, take accountability for your actions. Be direct and give people the facts. Once the crisis is over, Take time to reflect, educate yourself, and develop a plan to prevent a future crisis from happening again.
Photos: Marvel Studios