The greatest enemy of success is fear. Fear drains ambition, denies power, and strangles our ability to overcome challenges. When we let fear guide our decisions, we are destined to lose. Batman wasn’t prepared to be a loser. Instead, he chose to use his fear to terrify his enemies.

In a similar way, Bill Bernbach says, “If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some people against you. But if you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you and nobody for you.”

What’s my point?

It takes Batman-Bravery to stand for a remarkable purpose that has the vigour to make a real difference. It’s the kind of bravery that feels uncomfortable and may make you unpopular, at first anyway.

This Batman-Bravery is, however, the lifeblood of great brands and the best advertising. The kind that gives people goosebumps and is fondly remembered twenty years later; the kind of advertising that turns challenger brands into leaders.

What does it take to be Batman-Brave for your brand?

If your marketing plan doesn’t scare the bats in your boardroom, then it’s not going to scare your competitors or create any sort of positive change for your brand. If you’re lucky, this kind of safe marketing plan will keep your brand in the same position as last year. But it won’t encourage a moment’s worth of anyone’s attention.

Why? The Von Restorff Effect. Simply put, only things that stand out get noticed and are easily remembered and recalled by human brains. If you want your marketing to actually work, then your communication cannot look anything like your competitors’. You should only invest in ideas that surprise the people you’re targeting and terrify the other brands in your category.

How do you know if your marekting plan will deliver on this?

The answer is to apply the Batman code. When you look at your marketing plan, ask yourself, is this something Bruce Wayne would be proud of? If it feels more like a keep-everyone-happy strategy, then shoot it down. Start agin. And find an agency that challenges you to be terrifying. Because only those who are brave enough to be terrifying, are fearless enough to lead. And make a real difference.

So, take some advice from Bill and Batman. If you desire the thrill of over-delivering in your end of year results presentation, don’t be afraid to do things differently. Rather, be afraid of not doing things differently.

Mullen Lowe is proud to have recently developed a number of terrifying campaigns with Batman-Brave clients:

In Germany, we made Nazis march to raise money in support of an anti-Nazi cause.

In South Africa, we invited the entire country to a 21st birthday party.

In the USA, we gave provoked a whole new level of appreciation for their mothers, by spoof-interviewing people for the job position of “mom”.

In Columbia, we got the Columbian Armed Forces to stop fighting and come home.

And in in the USA, we stole some cupcakes and in so doing stole the limelight from a giant tech company.