The World Needs More Brands Like Darth Vader
What makes Vader so iconic that it has been engraved in the collective unconscious of more than one generation?
Juan Carlos Mallet
(6 minutes) A couple of years ago, I took my 5-year-old son to Disneyland, and when it was his turn to have his picture taken with Darth Vader, he froze. Vader is a truly imposing character. The same thing happened to me and to thousands of people around the world the first time we saw Darth Vader in A New Hope (1977). We knew within seconds that he was one of the most commanding characters in the history of cinema. Power is one of the most fascinating capabilities. The sensation of having absolute control with only our presence is a fantasy that many of us have dreamed of. But why is Vader so iconic that it has been engraved in the collective unconscious of more than one generation? At Palmer, Cooper, & Wallace, we believe that brands have the potential to become legends, capable of exercising a deep connection with the consumer while generating high profitability. Brands that can push their limits using 'The Force’, a consistent and solid marketing strategy. Let's go through some of the attributes that make Vader so powerful: 1. Design. The first meeting with someone is unforgettable, and your look plays a major role. Vader's iconic helmet is inspired by those used by the Nazis during World War II and the shape of his mask is a stylized skull. Together with his black armor, these symbols make us react with collective horror to the lack of humanity in them. Vader's visual concept provokes sensations that we learned generations ago and it's successful because it communicates so much just by looking at it. 2. Presence. First scene: Vader enters a spaceship and at the same time you can see the first explosions and how the “good” soldiers are blown up. Fire. Smoke. Lasers. Tense music. A black figure enters, contrasting with the white space that surrounds it. He has the certainty of his leadership, total control of the situation, regardless of the chaos around him. In fact, he revels in the disruption he caused. Your design may be outstanding, but the message won't work without the right attitude. We must never underestimate the power of a shocking entrance. The "show" that comes with your brand must turn heads and shake the target; it must be disruptive. 3. Sound. Vader's successful sound signature starts with his unique recognizable breathing, which is especially important because it shows us the human inside the apparent machine. "The Imperial March" always follows him. John Williams is a master at getting us to associate music with a product for the rest of our life. The sounds representing Vader, new and original, are embedded in our brain, causing the same sensations we had since the first time we saw him. The secret is consistency and coherence. 4. Personality. What gets my target hooked? Emotions. Vader is powerful not only because of the deep feelings he evokes, including fear. This character represents the universal archetype of "overcoming the father," the psychological step we have to take to become adults, reclaim our masculinity and becoming a hero. He also shows us the need to control everything in order to save the ones we love (which ends up taking him to the "dark side"), a need most of us have felt and that captivates us for life. 5. Values. Leadership, power, discipline, strength, dominance, action, and problem-solving. We want your brand to become a leader that causes admiration and engages with powerful stories. The right design, presence, sound, consistency, and flexibility are the values that will guide us through this process. Why are brands like Coca-Cola or Nike so successful? They know how to build on the same values over time, some times for generations, but always having the ability to understand and adapt to the historical context. Vader is the same; the more we get to know him, the more we create ties to the values he projects, which generate connection. Do you want a brand like Vader? At Palmer, Cooper, & Wallace, we believe that successful brands are born with a purpose, have a defined personality, evoke emotions, and appeal to the senses. They manage to seduce us from their multidimensionality; passionate brands that connect with people in such a profound way that they ultimately become icons.
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