The Power of Comics: How a Century-Old Art Form Can Help Tell Your Story Todayby Stephen Roth
Many of us think of comic strips as quick entertainment. We scan the funnies in the morning newspaper or scroll through our favorite web comics on the Internet. We chuckle at Dilbert's struggles with the pointy-haired boss, or Calvin's verbal sparring with Hobbes, then we set them aside and get on with our day.
Comic strips are much more than a passing fancy, however. They have been a part of our culture since first appearing in newspapers in the late 19th century. With the rise of digital media, comic strips have maintained their storytelling power. The Internet has spawned hundreds of smart, insightful web comics like Sarah's Scribbles and The Awkward Yeti. Meanwhile, classic strips like Peanuts, Nancy, Calvin and Hobbes, and The Far Side continue to win over a new generation of fans.
Because they appeal to such a broad range of people, comic strips can serve as an effective marketing tool for you or your business. A beloved comic strip character can add some fun and humor to an advertising campaign, content marketing strategy or even an internal presentation.
Here are four ways that comic strips can help raise your company's profile and build your brand:
Comics Tell a Story
Comics use the right blend of eye-catching visuals with short editorial to tell a story. They quickly communicate an idea or message in a single- or three-panel format that would take several sentences of ad copy to explain. You might say that comic strips were the very first memes - pre-dating the Internet by, oh, about 95 years.
Take this classic Dilbert comic, for example:
On the surface, this is a funny gag about Dilbert's clueless boss. But there's another a theme at work here, too – the struggle for management to understand and embrace technology. It's a challenge at many companies. If you operate an information technology business, or you're trying to sell your management team on a new tech initiative, this kind of humorous storytelling could effectively break the ice and address how important it is that everyone grasp an emerging technology. Nobody wants to be stuck at work with an Etch-A-Sketch!
Comics Add Warmth and Humanity
When MetLife adopted Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang as spokescharacters in the 1980s, some advertising experts were puzzled by the move. What did iconic comic strip characters have to do with life insurance?
As it turned out, the addition of Snoopy and friends to MetLife's marketing and advertising campaigns provided warmth, humor and humanity to a stodgy industry. It was the beginning of a very profitable, 30-year business relationship between Peanuts and MetLife.
Comic strip characters can be effective at adding fun, likability and playfulness to your company's brand. The familiarity of an iconic comic strip character (or beagle) can also help you stand out among your competitors.
Comics Can Solidify a Brand
Whatever your company specializes in, there is likely a comic strip among hundreds of available properties that can reflect your values and service offering. The Andrews McMeel Syndicate Licensing website has an extensive portfolio of comic strips that explore themes like relationships, family, sports, education, health, business, technology, science, and more. By scrolling through the hundreds of available strips in Andrews McMeel's licensing collection, you're likely to find at least few that match your company's identity, humor, and point of view.
The Awkward Yeti is one popular comic strip that encompasses a wide range of characters, and explores topics that include introversion, science and the balance of power in our inner dialogue. The strip's Heart and Brain characters play out the constant tug-of-war between our two most prominent organs. Do you follow logic or passion? How do you find a balance between the two without something like this happening? …
Can Heart and Brain somehow find a way to work together for the greater good?
Awkward Yeti is just one example of a comic strip's versatility in expressing a range of emotions and ideas. Whether communicating your company's value proposition in a marketing campaign, or motivating your own people at a project launch, the wit and relatibility of comics can help achieve your goals.
Comics Work Well in a Digital Format
Because they are so visual, comic strips are extremely adaptable to today's digital economy, where consumers are bombarded with information and have little time for reading or research. In just a few panels, a comic can attract attention and relay a message in a fun, enjoyable way. By featuring comics on your website or social media, you can help inspire loyalty, page views and return visits. Everyone likes reading comics, especially a timeless classic like Calvin and Hobbes.
Do Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs really require more sugar? Hobbes seems to think not. Choosing a comic strip that accurately reflects the voice, temperament and values of your company can be crucial to building your online brand. When that happens, the results can be sweet.