What can we learn from the evolution of Star Wars?


A great example of brand evolution is the recent re-awakening of Star Wars within pop culture. The brand needed a rebound after the lukewarm reception of the three prequel movies. When creator George Lucas retired and sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney in 2012, he was selling not just the beloved characters but also the potential for future development of the brand.

Lucasfilm subsequently created a Story Group of important staff members tasked with auditing the existing storylines and determining the next steps. The result was a blueprint to regain consumer trust, extend their loyalty and plan for growth. 





Regaining Trust: The Force Awakens was a box office success by any measure, grossing nearly $2 billion dollars worldwide. It received its fair share of criticism for copying many elements of the original 1977 film (now called Episode IV: A New Hope). This deja vu was intentional: by touching on so many beats of the previous film, it reminded viewers why they loved Star Wars in the first place. While The Force Awakens does feature new plot elements, the purpose of this movie was to regain the trust of audiences.

Extend Customer Loyalty: With positive reception of the new characters Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren, Lucasfilm will be developing Episodes VIII and IX on a strong foundation. It remains to be seen how long cultural icons such as Luke Skywalker and Princess/General Leia Organa will be featured in the movies, but the strong character development and performances of the next generation have new and existing fans invested in the future of the franchise.

Growth: Part of the appeal of the Star Wars universe to Disney was the possibility to create new stories within a galaxy far, far away. The recent release of Rogue One was the first step into a larger world, as the movie features no Jedi and focuses on the “war” backdrop of Star Wars. But Lucasfilm knows what their brand equity is beyond the lightsabers with subtle elements throughout the film to link it authentically—the 70s facial hair alone is impressive. This allows the filmmakers to take new risks with the storylines while staying true to cherished elements of the Star Wars universe.

With so much at stake as new movies were released, Lucasfilm took a step back, evaluated their brand’s position in the marketplace and outlined the next steps to reach a new level of success. Close attention to winning back existing customers first allowed them flexibility in branching out for the future.

If you’re ready to work on evolving your brand, contact us to get started!