There’s one thing I always say — that a compelling story is the most powerful tool any brand can have in its arsenal. It’s the only way you will stand out in the sea of communication both online and offline. No longer is it enough to throw a couple of images together and slap on some text. Fresh marketing ideas are the need of the hour, and one way brands are cutting through the noise is through comics.
Yes, you read that right! The little panels you looked forward to in the Sunday edition of your newspaper are coming back, and how. And for a marketer like me, it doesn’t come as a surprise. I’ve always believed it’s a versatile, clutter-breaking medium, while also being relatable and easy to remember. When used right, they have the potential to tap into the emotions of your target audience better than a post or banner ever could.
However, they are not as popular as they should be — at least in my opinion — because of some oft-repeated misconceptions. ‘Only kids read comics’, ‘comic books are only about superheroes’, are common refrains which severely underestimate the power and richness of visual storytelling!
There are some well-known brands which capitalised on its immense potential though. Up until 2016, a popular Brazilian airline published a two-page comic (titled ‘Social Baggage’) in its in-flight magazine. The comic was born out of their desire to highlight their social initiatives in a fun and engaging way — and it included with tales on instances when the airline transported a heart to save a life or carried an athlete to the Paralympics! The comic was a huge hit with readers, and helped position them as an airline that cares.
A few years ago, a Bermuda-based alcohol giant released a graphic novella that celebrated the brand’s history. To do this, they collaborated with two respected professionals from the industry: writer Warren Ellis, renowned his series’ such as The Authority and Transmetropolitan, and illustrator Michael Allred, who has drawn across Marvel and DC universes. It was simply a way to make consumers more aware of the brand’s heritage — and it performed much better than a text-heavy mailer or poster ever would! As their then marketing officer said, “Authenticity is increasingly important to our consumers, especially millennials. While first and foremost we want the graphic novel to be entertaining, we are also saying something important about our brand; that we have the heritage to back up our attitude.”
Now, having said that, I also believe that a brand should review its content strategy before taking this route. Visual content sells, but only when executed correctly. Creating comics is a time-consuming process and often tricky to crack, but in today’s overcrowded market, it’s definitely worth the time and effort if executed well. So I suggest you do some research — and if you feel that it fits your brand, go ahead and touch lives with your groundbreaking comics. After all, marketing is all about resonating with your target group — so it’s surely worth the risk.