The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. The Winged Avenger. No matter the name, there’s no superhero like Batman. His origins are human and he has no superpowers, but he fights for what he believes and wins our hearts. So why do we love him? Simple. He knows his calling.
This, the first of three articles, explains how your NFP brand can be remarkable – like Batman – by truly knowing (and owning) your purpose.
Batman knows his beginnings. All too well.
His alter ego, Bruce Wayne, describes the trauma of the night his parents died, as when “all sense left my life.” It becomes his mantra and the driving force behind his life’s work — and the reason why he relentlessly pursues its fulfilment.
Like Batman, all great brands have a deeper purpose. They’re acutely aware of the underlying purpose for their product or service. Be it for-profit or not-for-profit, powerful brands such as Patagonia, AirBnB, WWF, Unicef, Salvation Army and the McGrath Foundation are crystal clear about their purpose and how they deliver ‘human value’.
To be truly remarkable, you need to show that your NFP brand is more than a logo, catchy tagline, website or ad campaign. Your NFP brand is a relationship. It should reflect the purpose of your brand, have an authentic narrative and consistently deliver powerful experiences. By centring your marketing and communication efforts around your core purpose, you’ll clearly differentiate yourself from the rest of the clamouring crowd.
Because like Batman, NFPs stand for hope.
Deep down, we’re all Batman.
Our soul relates to his tragic origins and genesis story, without us even realising it. While it’s true that most of us don’t actively pursue a tragedy, we do subconsciously understand that heroes are often born from catastrophe. We also know that despite his lack of superpowers, Batman has forged himself into a living weapon to wage war on crime and injustice. He has become the silent guardian of the oppressed, so our spirits want him to succeed.
His purpose, makes us care.
Similar to the genesis of Batman, your NFP brand was likely birthed from a desire to fix a problem. Your fight, is for your beliefs. That’s your purpose. By clearly defining your brand purpose and using your wits and tactical skills – as Batman uses martial arts and criminology – you too will defeat your foes and win people’s hearts. That is, if you endure.
“Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.”
~ Alfred, Dark Knight Trilogy
Under the mask isn’t a super hero – but a determined, hardworking and passionate man with all the limitations and frailties of being human. As each challenge arises, he fights to uphold his principles and achieve his purpose, despite the many villains he faces. That’s what makes him relatable… and it inspires a belief that perhaps you too could don a winged cape and fight your own battle. But how?
First, find your purpose.
All brands need to dig deep for their purpose. NFP brands, have a head start. Rooted in the origin of most NFPs is a source story. That narrative, in some way, bonds to every one of the people you serve, because they believe in it. By understanding the emotional core of your story and evolving your mythos, you’ll ensure it remains relevant, inspiring and empowers for the greater good.
“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely. A legend, Mr Wayne.”
~ Ra’s al Ghul, Dark Knight Trilogy
The quest ahead
Batman’s calling drives him. Out of a childhood shattered by tragedy, isolation and purposelessness comes a deep longing to bring light into darkness, hope into hopelessness and security into fearfulness. What inspired your quest?
Start, by focusing on your purpose.
To do that, ask yourself some questions. But first, think on this – Simon Sinek’s bestselling book, “Start with Why” is often quoted when talking about purpose. In it, he makes a simple, profound statement: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” (Our italics). Now, revisit ‘why’ you started. Who was your founder and what problem did they want to fix or solve? What angered them? What kept them up at night? Have you strayed from your original ‘calling’?
“It’s not the moments of tragedy that define our lives, so much as the choices we make to deal with them.”
~ Batman, War on Crime (Comic)
Over his 75-year history, Batman has fallen and risen many times. However, each time, it’s his purpose – fuelled by his relentless pursuit of justice – that has guided his return, actions and outcomes.
Your brand journey need be no different.
Ask yourself three simple questions and then lay your answers at the very core of your NFP. Why? Because they represent the core dimensions of your brand, and its purpose:
1. Why were you created?
2. What were you created to do?
3. Where are you best positioned to do it?
Many NFPs offer something very similar to others in the same sector, but by finding and centring your brand narrative on your purpose, it makes you compelling. It makes your NFP more magnetic and real to those that matter – the people that you serve.
“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”
~ Batman, Dark Knight Trilogy
This is Part 1 of our own Batman Trilogy, on branding. The series of articles are designed to evoke reflection on your NFP battle and inspire a rediscovery of the spirit that drives your efforts. For more information on the branding journey of reflection, rediscovery and reinvention, contact the author.
NOTE: This post originally appeared as a guest post, published on Community Services Industry Alliance
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