4 valuable lessons 'Black Panther' can teach you about product design and marketing

February 26, 2018
5 min read

On the 16th of February, the world came to a stand still as one the most widely anticipated movies of the 21st century was released in cinemas globally. Much momentum had been built up towards the release of the film with selling the highest number of pre-sale tickets for any superhero movie.

Personally, the Black Panther movie is definitely one of the greatest movies I have seen in my brief existence on planet Earth (sorry for being so dramatic).

The movie has gone on to make sales of over $700 million in less than 2 weeks, that is more than 200% in profits, considering the fact that the budget for the movie was $200 million.

What made this movie such a huge success? There are so many closely linked factors but one of the most predominant of those factors is this:

Black Panther isn't just a movie, it's a Movement.

Finally, we have a universal activist for the fact that Africa isn't a country filled with lions, zebras and people dressed in loincloths with staffs, but a continent of diverse cultures, immense resources and outstanding brilliance.

P.S: Black Panther is actually the richest person in the Marvel Universe

It's a win for all of Black Culture. But now the question is; what can Black Panther teach us about marketing and building better brands.

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1. Stop trying to sell us your product. Instead, push a movement

The Black Panther movie itself is centred around a movement; which is the empowerment of the Black race. Much of the movie's advertisement was done by people who believed that the Black race should be empowered.

This was evident when a fan created a hashtag, #whatblackpanthermeanstome; which helped people to express feelings about the movie. The hashtag went on to trend in the US. There is also the more popular hashtag, #wakandaforever; which went on to trend worldwide.

Many times, business owners focus on trying to convince people as to why they should pick their product by giving them an endless list of features and attributes that allow them to do more.

This is all good, but we need to understand that human beings are first and foremost emotional beings before they are rational beings. So most times we make decisions based on how we feel before logical reasoning. And by giving us a list of features and attributes, you are trying to appeal to our logical reasoning.

But by voicing out loudly about a cause in short direct words that strike a response, you are appealing first to our emotions. If we come from this approach, we'll get people that passionately believe in the cause we stand for to use our product and share it after they use it.

2. Don't build a product for everyone

black panther cast
Black Panther cast (The Independent)

With a black director, a majority of the cast being blacks and an African setting, it appears that the Black Panther movie was made by the blacks for the black community. And since the blacks are madly passionate about it, the rest of the world caught on.

This is a big fundamental lesson in product design, your product should solve the problems of a particular set of people before the masses. Your product should solve their problems so well that they can't stop talking about you and sharing their experience with your product to their friends.

That's the story of Facebook. It was first built for Harvard, they solved their needs so well that everyone on the campus couldn't stop talking about "The Facebook". Soon enough, it spread to other universities, and throughout the US and now it's a global brand.

3. Timing is Everything

In the movie industry, most blockbusters are usually released in the summer or in December, when people have time to go and see movies, so it was weird when the Black Panther was slated to be released in February. But the marketing executives at Marvel understood why.

February is Black History month in the United States, which by the way has the largest box office revenue. So what better time, than in the month that represents the strength of the Black people?

This lead to fairly predictable outcomes, such as schools sponsoring their students to go and see the movie in celebration of the 'Black History' month.

And notable leaders, including Serena Williams and Dwyane Wade, of the Black community to sponsor children to go and see the movie.


These further strengthened its movement and increased ticket sales

4. Most Importantly, the product has to be incredible

The most amazing part of the Black Panther marketing was the making of the movie itself. Before the release of the movie, the hype around it was already overwhelming. It seemed impossible for the movie to meet up to expectations. But it did, with an IMDb rating of 7.7/10 and a 'Rotten Tomatoes' rating of 97%, which made the movie even more talked about.

Even if you have the best agencies in the world trying to market a bad product, it wouldn't go far in the long run. A lot of people might buy it initially but, after the early adopters use it and start sharing their bad experiences with a product, the rest of the market loses faith and doen't even bother purchasing the product.

The best marketing any startup can have is to have a great product, and a great product is one that solves the need of your target audience almost seamlessly.


Black Panther wasn't just an amazing movie, it was able to do what many brands and businesses haven't been able to do for years; create a movement.

What do you think about the movie and what else do you think it did right to make it so successful?

About the Author

bioimageSeun the Sage is a foremost digital marketing specialist with a major focus on the psychology of digital marketing. You can check him out at seunthesage.com/blog

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