“A hero is someone who, in spite of weakness, doubt, or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.”
— Christopher Reeve
Over time, mankind has seen many bestowed with the description of “hero” for many reasons. Often, warriors are remembered as heroes for leading their nations to victory, or fighting till the last man against insurmountable odds. Being a hero however, has less to do with physical strength, and instead more to do with an indomitable will. The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy are considered heroes for their valor and sacrifice, while figures like Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin fought for their beliefs and equality in the face of great adversity by refusing to give up their seats on the bus.
Likely candidates for the Hero archetype are those that are characterized as strong, fit, or brave. Sports brands that help athletes train, or inspire them to victory often align themselves with this archetype. Heroes are considered to be protectors, so brands that are involved with defense, or even attack, as long as it’s for a noble cause, are a great fit for this archetype.
Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Courage is grace under pressure.” However, nobody is born a hero. Instead, overcoming adversity, and not wilting during times of tribulation can forge a hero from a “regular Joe,” no matter how young or inexperienced they are. Brands that aid in this transformational journey with equipment or motivation present an ideal that heroes in the making can strive for.
Under Armour. The brand name alone elicits imagery of strength, and protection against harm. Throughout its brand messaging, Under Armour preaches the importance of hard work, drive, self-belief, and going the extra mile. The message that the brand aims to instill complements the gear that it sells well. Playoffs and championships are considered to be where people find glory, but Under Armour challenges that notion with the idea that you earn that glory during the preparation. It took the idea of training, often considered a very drab topic (think Allen Iverson’s rant about practice), and made it appealing, thereby creating a major market for its product.
Erase All Doubt
A great example of marketing the ideals of a brand, instead of the product directly, is this commercial that questions Aristotle philosophy, “you are what you repeatedly do.” Instead, Under Armour argues, “you are what you repeatedly do, when things get hard.” Doing the same thing over and over, while running the same path isn’t impressive. If you want to reach excellence, you need to reinvent the race…and buy Under Armour training shoes.
A leader in the pest control space, Terminix has been fighting termites and other creepy crawlies since 1927. Through its website and advertisement, it portrays itself as serious, professional, and reliable. Using bold colors, gritty textures, and photos of people dressed in Terminix gear with a “no-nonsense attitude,” they portray themselves as the hero that will save your day.
Legion of Terminix
Almost seeming like a clip from the movie Sin City, this commercial borrows graphic elements from comic books and narration from superhero movies to portray its army of Terminix specialists. These heroes are here to take the fight to the bugs and leave your home protected. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Beats by Dre:
Taking the headphone market by storm right from the beginning of their formation in 2006, Beats by Dre has become more than an electronics brand. Instead of promoting technical features of their products, they emphasize a lifestyle and a mindset. With lighting fast marketing moves, and an exceptional grasp on pop culture, they were able to get their products into the hands of key influencers, like LeBron James, and start a movement.
The Game Before the Game
Beats by Dre took advantage of the hysteria of the 2014 World Cup in Brasil and produced engaging commercials centered on the pregame routine of the star players participating in the tournament. In the world of soccer, these players are idolized and thought of as heroes as they “fight” for their country and represent them on the biggest sports stage in the world. By seeing their “heroes” prepare for battle and include these headphones in their routine, Beats by Dre is encouraging fans to emulate these players and become customers themselves.
Hear What You Want
In the “Hear What You Want” campaign from Beats by Dre, violent and nasty fans of archrival teams do their best to intimidate athletes upon arrival to their stadium. With eggs pelting the windows, rabid fans attacking the bus, and nasty insults flying, the athletes need to overcome this adversity and center themselves to start mentally preparing for the game. To help them find their inner peace, Beats by Dre cancels out the noise and helps them get motivated.
Compare it against the checklist below to find out.
☐ The products, services, or experiences your brand sells are concerned with protecting or inspiring its customers.
☐ Your brand puts substance first, style second.
☐ Your brand emphasizes being the best you can be through hard work and dedication.
☐ Your company appreciates those who break the status quo and refuse to be seen as average.
☐ Your corporate culture attracts and retains employees who are passionate about their jobs and about getting better every day.
Put it to Use
If you find that your brand does fit this archetype, here are some places to put it to use.