Why Superman’s story makes his logo stronger
How much do you think the last Superman movie made? Don’t worry, I’ve got the answer for you. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice grossed $873,260,194. Now how much do you think the original creators sold the rights of Superman
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How much do you think the last Superman movie made?
Don’t worry, I’ve got the answer for you. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice grossed $873,260,194.
Now how much do you think the original creators sold the rights of Superman to DC Comics for in 1938? $130.
Let that sink in for a second…. $130. Even counting for inflation, it’s still only $2,228.71 in 2016 money. $2,228.71 for a character that is responsible for inspiring a billion dollar industry.
Does that mean DC Comics made the deal of a lifetime in acquiring the rights to Superman because they could see into the future? Partly. If DC Comics never made the deal, Superman wouldn’t exist in the capacity we know today and all the superheroes that followed would cease to exist.
However, just because they made the deal, doesn’t mean that they were automatically entitled to a future billion dollar character. They bought a character with a clear mission and strong values, which is vital for any brand to be successful. Combine that with timing, luck, strategy and not to mention an enormous amount of blood, sweat and tears, and you arrive at the Superman legacy we know today.
Superman is built on clarity, quality and consistency
The narrative of Superman’s origin (as a brand, not Kryptonite…) reminds me of a quote from the famous logo designer Paul Rand. “A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.”
The same works for characters like Superman. If DC Comics didn’t write good stories for him that were relatable to readers, then the Superman brand would not have the clout that it does now. To put it simply, a character is only as good as his story.
To relate this back to the Paul Rand quote, it is a brand’s narrative, values and motivation that will create an emotional connection and consumers will associate this with it’s identity. Therefore, the function of the logo and branding is to create a shortcut to the emotional connection as a way to remind consumers of the experiences they’ve had with the brand.
Superman’s logo develops meaning through our experiences
So how do you design a great logo that’s going to have an emotional impact on decision making? You create a logo based on the pillars of being distinctive, memorable and clear (quoting Paul Rand again – truly a master), then you put time into doing work that adds value and creates a positive experiences for consumers. If you can deliver consistently, the brand will have a good reputation and therefore the logo and identity will be met with positive emotion.
So if you just look at the numbers, you could say DC Comics made a steal in buying Superman for $130. However, it’s only through a reputable, consistent release of quality content that readers became emotionally invested in Superman, therefore allowing him to become the most iconic superhero of all time.