The Rise and Fall of Vader

Avoiding Self-Centered Branding
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Darth Vader is an icon of cinema. Whether you are a Star Wars fan or not, you have heard of Darth Vader or at least seen the character portrayed in countless other movies, television, and commercials.

Understanding Vader is all about understanding his beginnings. You can watch the first three films and get a sense of who he is, but not why such a powerful force allows himself to be controlled by another, namely the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. To know that, you must dip into his prologue.

The prequels of the Star Wars saga delve into Darth Vader, then Anakin Skywalker’s past. We find out that he is a child of the force, the energy that moves through all things in the Star Wars universe. Anakin has no actual father, and a fatherless child destined to be twins would fill any new dad with fear.

Afraid of being useless and vulnerable, he seeks forces beyond his understanding to avoid the death of his wife and child. This fear changes his identity, leading him on a dark path, ridden with destruction, hate, and ultimate evil.

His downfall began when he started feeling intense fear of losing his wife in a dream. He allowed fear and his desire for control to rule his emotions, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that ends the life of his wife Padme, Anakin Skywalker as we knew him, and Jedi order itself.

Why does your prologue matter in your brand?

If you don’t know where you have come from, you won’t know where you are going. Brand identity, especially among influencers and Instagram personas, must embrace their backstories. Your prologue will help you define what you believe in and why your brand stands firm in the products or services that you offer.

Entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie understood his identity and purpose when he began TOMS. After walking the streets of Argentina, he was bewildered by the number of homeless children. His prologue sparked the idea for Tomorrow’s Shoes (TOMS) so that for every pair of shoes the company sold today, a new pair would be given to a child in need tomorrow.

The Dark Side

No matter how strong your prologue is, the dark side’s temptation in brand marketing can be even stronger. The desire for consumers to buy from companies that have a vibrant social conscience is increasing more and more. Brands have the power to effect social change, especially in a political climate.

As a brand, you must stand firm in your identity and not allow fear to push you around. Do not make statements that support social efforts that have nothing to do with your brand, and else you risk going ultimately off-brand.

Here is one example from AT&T. They tweeted this image to make sure social media portrayed them as a company that commemorates those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


Maybe their intentions were good, but it looks like a publicity stunt to get eyes on their product rather than commemorating a national tragedy.

Like Anakin, substituting your prologue for fear or power can create a self-fulfilling prophecy as you destroy your mission and identity.

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