“Do you know what a good terrorist organization needs? Brand recognition.” Family Guy’s version of Flint expounded on the importance of terrorism brand recognition during a skit, but how important is brand recognition?
The 80s parody may lampoon the overly advertised terrorist organization that stayed too public, but the newer IDW Comics didn’t continue the loud and boisterous trend.
In the newer IDW comics the Joes didn’t even know who they were fighting during the first season, and attempts at seeing one organization behind all of the evil seemed ludicrous. G.I. Joe is a shadowy organization being juggled by politicians and generals off the books, but so too were their invisible enemy.
How important is brand recognition? For the reality of the spy-espionage story it runs counter to any pretense of reality. Brand recognition is not needed by terrorists or cover teams.
In comics about liberating the oppressed people from the governance of corrupt leadership brand recognition seems to be a key component.
How important is brand recognition in the super-hero community?
A recent post on ComicVine reminded me of the late 90s Spiderman alternate identities: the Slingers. During an Identity Crisis, Spiderman has been vilified in the court of public perception and must take up other mantles to continue saving the city. Spiderman becomes Hornet, Dusk, Ricochet, and Prodigy, at least until he can clear his name from behind another mask and become the spider swinger again. Besides making good practical sense to combat a continual problem for the web swinger, Marvel also put out Spider-Man #91 as Dusk #1 which is a neat variant cover/#1 cash in.
Spiderman seems to have a perpetual problem with public perception. J.J. Jameson is always trying to turn the newspaper, television news, internet, or general public against the poor do-gooder. The masked visage has been questioned as often as Spiderman must realize that great power accompanies great…well whatever.
Occasionally the wall crawler has had to spice up the look. The snazzy black and white space duds may not have worked out long term, but it helped distance Peter Parker’s alter hero from some bad press for a little while.
Other notable outfit changers include Hank Pym, Jack “Nomad” Monroe, and Wolverine. Sometimes different persona have accompanied different eras in the character, or different attitudes, or paid homage to their emotions, or something.
Lucius Hammer and Jack Hammer have both had different personas in their respective small press titles. I plug them here because the short run books have used the identity playfully and should be mentioned. Their handling of the identity trope is more sophisticated than Ant-Man being constantly asked if he is Spider Man.
So, how important is brand recognition in the superhero world?
Obviously, in a team-up, the heroes must at least know who the good guys are so they need enough recognition to be on the right end of avenging fists. You can’t join the game without knowing the players.
In previous discussions, the Pryde has mused about the difficulty in keeping a secret identity today with modern technology trumping masks. Perhaps an ever increasing closet of wardrobe changes would trump the technology if brand recognition was not needed.
So, how important is brand recognition?