It’s that time of the year again, when the Hollywood hype machine rolls out its biggest guns (or child wizards or emo vampires or GIANT FREAKING ROBOTS!) and movie magic turns on the heat in cinemas worldwide.
Yes, the summer blockbuster season is here to take a bite out of your hard-earned money and give you a reason to spend two hours or so in a darkened hall clutching fitness-killing processed foods and beverages as you watch your favourite superstars duke it out in the battle of big-budget silver screen behemoths in 2D, 3D, IMAX and all that jazz.
As you watch anthropomorphic animals beat the living daylights out of each other to save kung-fu or Americans face the consequences of harbouring yet another alien species, consider this; your brand could be a blockbuster in the making, if you just follow some age-old filmmaking advice.
1. Respect the source material.
You can’t have Batman without tragedy, or Conan with a U rating. These are the hallmarks of the respective franchises; just like your brand values, essence and identity are the hallmarks of your brand, its source material, if you will.
A brand should always be true to itself, and should never lose sight of what it believes in, and what it stands for. Whatever you do should never depart too drastically from the foundation you’ve laid out for your brand, because this is what makes your brand unique, authentic and memorable. You can take liberties, of course, like having Thor redeem himself in a couple of days rather than the weeks and months it took in the comics, but the spirit of your brand should always be present.
2. Don’t lose the plot.
It’s tempting to let stunning imagery do the talking for your brand. But if it dilutes your brand story, or worse, completely sacrifices it for the sake of an overblown visual orgy, then be prepared for people remembering your ad … but not your brand.
Kind of like the advertising equivalent of Sucker Punch, a breathtaking piece of visual filmmaking that’s good for a sensory high, but is ultimately hollow and emotionally detached, with plot holes you could fly a dragon through… in slow motion.
3. Deliver on the hype.
Ever watched a movie trailer, got pumped up to catch the actual film, and then left the cinema feeling that the best parts were in the preview?
That’s exactly what it feels like when your brand promises an incredible benefit, makes an attention-grabbing claim, or sells a life-changing story, but doesn’t quite live up to expectations when consumers actually experience it.
Just watch Superman Returns and see if you feel just a little cheated, because, boy, was that trailer iconic. Similarly, you don’t want your customer walking into your store expecting a mega-sized burger that could keep a hibernating bear going all winter, but end up with three bites’ worth.
Not all brands need to be blockbusters, but it’s a great way to get noticed when you’re starting out or have something new to say, effectively and instantaneously. Having said that, blockbusters are mostly big, dumb fun, and don’t necessarily reflect the highest point in filmmaking.
You can always craft an intelligent, thought-provoking brand campaign that cuts to the heart of the consumer on a shoestring budget, but that’s a story for September.