Batman & His Brand’s History

Michael’s timely breakfast club this week was on Batman. As you may know, the new Batman movie–or the Batman and Superman movie–came out on March 25th. Michael wanted to share with us some of the backstory behind this iconic superhero.

This year marks Batman’s 75th anniversary, meaning that the superhero has been around for three quarters of a century making him older than 93% of the Canadian population. And he’s still in better shape than me!

The very first version of a superhero called Batman was created by a man named Bob Kane. His Batman wore a red suit and had rigid bat wings under his arms. The version more closely related to the caped crusader we know today was created by Bill Finger. His suit was grey and black and his wings were part of a black, batwing-shaped cape. Finger also created the backstory for Batman and many other characters like Catwoman, and Robin, as well as the Bruce Wayne character.

Bob Kane BatmanBill Finger Batman

As far as creators go, there was also a third. Frank Miller is the mastermind behind the Dark Knight Returns, an older Bruce Wayne who returns as Batman to fight crime when Gotham falls apart again. Miller’s Batman was darker and grittier, like the recent Christian Bale films. Miller was also the creator of Sin City, Robocop and 300.

Michael also discussed the various actors who have played the Bat over the years, from Lewis Wilson in the ’40s, to Adam West in the ’60s, to Michael Keaton from 1989-1992. There was also Alfredo Casero in Argentina, playing a portly hero who drove around confronting villains and drawing laughs in the batsuit. Then of course there was Val Kilmer and George Clooney before Christian Bale’s Dark Knight. But for Batman v. Superman, Ben Affleck plays the famous comic book hero.affleck batman

One interesting fact Michael told us about Batman is that the franchise has 75 logos. At adHOME, we design logos and work on creating consistent compelling brands and brand messages. Each of the 75 logos is a strong representation of the brand and almost all of them are variations on the bat silhouette, but some are silhouettes of the Bat mask or an R in a circle for Robin, yet all ubiquitously stand for the Batman franchise. Most people aware of pop culture would recognize any of these logos as relating to the franchise immediately, as proved by the fact that it is the most well-known superhero brand. However, the franchise struggles where parents come into play, because they feel that the hero is too violent, making Spiderman the most financially successful superhero brand.

Batman Logos

The branding of this franchise is interesting because it is doing so well despite some key differences from other franchises, and at adHOME, this intrigues us. That the franchise has so many different logos that are all recognizable is a strong indicator of the brand’s ubiquity, since most brands like to stick to a single logo to ensure it is easily recognized. Batman doesn’t have to do that. Taking a look at marketing efforts for this superhero can reveal why this brand is so strong and what made a man dressed as a bat into such a well-known brand.