Stan Lee; the saviour of comic book storytelling

Written by Lindsay Hoggard

Yesterday Stan Lee, most well-known for revolutionising Marvel comic books, passed away. His creations, including Spider Man, Hulk, Doctor Strange and the X-Men are not only credited as saving the costumed superhero but also continue to draw crowds to cinemas worldwide.

In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s comic super heroes had waned dramatically in popularity. It was during the rebranding of Marvel Comics that Lee, already an established comic book writer, took a chance on doing something different.

Stan Lee humanised comic book characters. Whether it was Spider Man (a young geeky boy who developed radioactive powers), or The Incredible Hulk (a gentle man who turned into a raging powerhouse when he became angry), or the X-Men mutants (a group of normal people trying to contain their super powers and use them for good); this new breed of comic book characters were all relatable to their readers. Each character had its own nemesis and its own battle to face.

It was (and still is) perfect storytelling in action.

His winning formula not only helped save the fortune of comic books, but it is one that so many other industries and businesses can learn from.

At Berkeley we work with a range of different companies, most of them in the tech sector. They all want to communicate effectively with their audiences, usually with the aim of selling more product.

Stan Lee once said, “Technology isn’t a villain. Technology should help, but if you just use the technology for the sake of technology, then you’re cheating your audience. You’re not giving them the best story”.

He was right. People don’t buy technology for the technology (or its features, benefits, bells or whistles). They buy it because of how it helps them, how it can change their life. After all, the fortune of comic book superheroes changed when the characters become relatable; it’s a great example of how people want to read stories about themselves, not about you.

Businesses must use the same formula as Stan Lee – not by making the technology they are selling the superhero in their customers’ lives, but by making their customers the superhero in their own lives.

Every great superhero needs a battle to win. That battle is the one that your technology will enable them to be triumphant in. Your technology is their super power.

So, think about what battle your technology helps your customers to overcome, and tell a story about it. It will be a much better read than a list of your latest software’s features and benefits, and it’s what Stan Lee would do.