“Han shot first!!!” Your brand doesn’t belong to you

Your brand belongs to these people

Recently the Internet has been abuzz with the imminent release and most recent update of the Star Wars saga.  But before you hope your Millennium Falcon and head to Mos Eisely to pick up a copy, read about what your brand can learn from Star Wars.

Star Wars is a classic example of a brand which no longer really belongs to its creators.  Although Han, Luke, Darth and Jar Jar* were conceived inside the mind of George Lucas, they no longer really belong to him or 20th Century Fox.  Rather, they belong to a passionate community of geeks, tragics, and everyday people who feel a strong sense of ownership over the intergalactic space opera and its various heroes and villains.

Sadly, Star Wars fans (clearly some of the most committed and loyal fans too) have been abused by a company that has demonstrated their desire to exploit the brand at every touchpoint imaginable.  Don’t believe me? Well you should – the sheer quantity of idiotic Star Wars merchandise is enough to make James Earl Jones cry.  Seriously, the iconic Darth Vader mask was never supposed to adorn your crotch.

"Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son"

Furthermore, George Lucas seems intent on changing the ‘core product’ in a way which fundamentally alters its meaning.  For example, various updates to the original trilogy have seen Darth Vader shouting “No. Noooooo!” just before he stops the Emperor from torturing Luke to death in Jedi.  And (in)famously, altering the Mos Eisley cantina scene to make it appear like Han Solo shoots Greedo after the bounty hunter gets a shot in himself.

Han Shoots First.org

These are not simply aesthetic changes to ‘update’ the Star Wares brand to keep pace with the marketplace.  Rather they were perceived by the brand’s loyal community to be “a great disturbance” – profoundly altering the way in which their heroes are portrayed.  Han isn’t a wimp; he’s a cavalier space cowboy who definitely shot first.

Thus, the decision to make such seismic changes to the films indicate either the lack of knowledge that the Star Wars brand and all its mythology doesn’t really belong to the organization anymore, or simply a brazen disregard for the staunchly loyal Star War fan base.

So what does this mean for your brand?  Again, it comes down to consistency with your core message and understanding that this core message is likely to become a strong part of who your customers are.  And making core changes to your brand in a way in which fundamentally alters its meaning is an extremely risky proposition.

// Alec Schumann

*On a serious note, extensive scientific research has demonstrated that Jar Jar Binks is the worst character in the history of cinema.

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

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