Supermarketing: Secret Identities

Superman Reveals his secret identity Clark Kent to Lois LaneAlmost every superhero ever to exist has had a secret identity. Spider-Man is secretly Peter Parker, under the mask Batwoman is really Kate Kane, Superman puts on his glasses and disappears into Clark Kent. The list is almost endless. When you work in marketing, you join those hallowed ranks. Your name becomes a secret identity, the brand your mask and cape.

While some people might be curious about the woman or man behind the mask, the most important identity to the average joe is the superheroic one. No-one is going to care that journalist Clark Kent is nearby when Brainiac is attacking the city, but knowing that Superman is on the scene changes everything. The public does not need to know a superhero’s secret identity, just that they can rely on Superman always being Superman.

What does this have to do with digital marketing, I hear you cry! Well, every time you work with a brand, be it writing copy, designing an image or engineering some code, you are forming a secret identity. You slip on that brand like Batman slips on that cape and in the eyes of the public, you become that brand.

Batman is a fantastic example of this. The idea of the ‘Batman’ identity being bigger than the man in the suit is something that the comic series and film adaptations like The Dark Knight Rises have put at their core. Most people will know Batman’s secret identity as Bruce Wayne, but this isn’t strictly the case. Other people to carry the Batman name include Dick Grayson, Jean-Paul Valley, Thomas Wayne and Terry McGuinness, and that is just scratching the surface.

Much of the Batman mythos is built around the idea that it doesn’t matter who is under the mask, just that the illusion is maintained that there is always a Batman in Gotham City ready to leap into action to save the day. The same should be true of any brand or property you work with. It doesn’t matter how many people have worked on that brand, all that matters is that to the general public, the brand stays consistent and recognisable.

I know when you are trying to make a name for yourself in a field like this you want to make sure you stand out. You almost want to have some kind of calling card that you can point to and instantly use to take credit for that work. Fight against that instinct. Remember, secret identities are secret for a reason. Gotham City has built up this idea that Batman is some kind of supernatural entity, living in the shadows, impervious to death. If the world found out that Batman was just a guy in a mask the effect would be ruined entirely.

The same is true for working with other people’s brands. The best way to make a name for yourself is to blend into each brand you work with. It’s not the public you have to convince of your skill, it’s employers. Employers want someone who can come in, completely become the hero they need them to be, then pop the glasses back on and go back to living their ordinary lives. Being the best Superman you can be is the strongest way to get the right people to remember Clark Kent.

The bottom line: When working for a brand, leave your ego behind and become that brand for a while. Your success isn’t based on if the public remembers you, it’s if they remember what you did with that brand.


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