This weekend, it seems like most of the country, at least most of Black America, was talking about the amazingness that is the Black Panther movie. I’ll be transparent, I didn’t even know what it was about before deciding I was going to go see it. I was good with the fact that it was the first superhero movie with a primarily black cast and a black director, so I was going to support black people. But after doing a little research I learned about the story behind the big screen mega-hit and was anxious to see it.
But we couldn’t just show up at the movies in our regular everyday attire. We had to come all the way through on this (by “we”, I’m referring to my husband). We grabbed some fitting attire, hired the nanny, and made our way to the movies. And although I’m not usually one to watch superhero movies, this one was much more than that – which is what makes it so incredible. From the relationship between African Americans and Africans, women and equality, women and power, the removal of the typical “white savior” role, colonialism, the unity, traditions and more, this movie had a lot of depth to it that deserves a lot of exploration and appreciation.
Something I also appreciated about this movie is it delivered incredible business growth lessons for business owners. And because I know how much you appreciate a great lesson on business and how to grow & expand your business to be more profitable, I had to share 7 lessons business owners can learn from the Black Panther movie.
Create a different story
When you’re in a crowded market, you need something that helps you to stand out. You need something that helps people to differentiate you from the next person offering exactly what you offer. That’s a challenge for any business, but especially challenging for a business that’s in a saturated market. And Hollywood is saturated. We’ve seen so many of the same or variations of the same stories that it’s not as easy to grab the attention or the dollars of the audience like once before. So, innovation and creativity are a must. And that’s exactly what Black Panther brought to the screen. This movie was a first in so many ways. So, let’s break down a couple of the ways the story in Black Panther makes it stands out.
There’s a lot of blackness…from a primarily black cast and a black director, this movie is dripping with black greatness.
There’s no majorly focused or centered love story or over-sexualized characters and plots. This is refreshing because not everything needs to be about a love story or romance.
There’s no white savior and thank goodness for it. Instead, we see the white guy as the sidekick, taking orders from the incredibly brilliant women.
No whitewashing. In fact, the white guy in the movie has to immediately learn his place and that his voice/perspective isn’t needed in order to save the day (remember the barking scene).
There’s no damsel in distress (besides the scene when the Black Panther saves his sister, but that was more like a family thing). And thank goodness for this one too. In fact, the women come to the aide of the men. They’re incredibly strong, smart, powerful, and beautiful too.
As you think about your business, how can you serve your audience in different ways? How can you speak to them in a way that others don’t?
Speak to an underserved audience, yet eager
Black people make up about 12% of the US population and we’re an incredibly underserved community. From cosmetics, fashion, technology, medicine, entertainment and beyond, the black community is missing fair and equal representation across the board. And Hollywood is no exception. Black Panther is the first superhero movie of its kind, mainly because it speaks directly and unapologetically to an eager black community. Most movies that roll out of Hollywood and make it to the big screen do not have an all-black cast and when they do, it’s not as positive, powerful and uplifting as this movie. It was time for a different story about the black community to be told, one that uplifts our spirits, give us a sense of black pride, bring us closer together as a community and leave us inspired to embrace our blackness.
On a recent Facebook post, I wrote that Black Panther makes me want to buy as many things as possible with the word black in it…from black soap to black tea, I’m down for it all. The genius of speaking to an underserved audience is that you’re not going to have a lot of competition. In fact, you have a great chance of being the first. And being first is usually the best. So how can you speak to an audience that’s underserved and eager for what you have to offer?
Make it visually appealing
As a business owner, sometimes we overlook the power and connection we can make when things are visually appealing. Any great graphic artist will tell you this truth and Black Panther played into this truth to the fullest. From the costumes, scenery, and props, everything was rich in color, vibrancy and visual stimulation. Take a look at your business. In what ways can you make your brand more visually appealing?
Black Panther did what every movie does with this one, but you can apply this to your business nonetheless. Instead of dropping your next new product or service without warming up the audience, give previews. You can do this in a number of ways, but the idea here is to give enough information that people know something is coming and that it’s something that they want. You can do this by offering samples, creating promo videos, providing early releases to select community members and more. Give people a little to increase anticipation and excitement. How can you do this for your next launch?
Leave the audience wanting more
A great movie like Black Panther did exactly what so many great films do. It left us wanting more, a lot more. I’d take a Black Panther series if you gave me one. I already bought my son the Black Panther action figure. It was that great. But I’ll settle for a sequel. The way the movie ended it left us with unanswered questions and with curiosity about what could come next with the characters. When you’re building your business it’s important to consider different ways you can extend the client experience beyond the initial offer. How can you meet your clients’ needs in a different way or provide additional offerings and support that compliments the overall client experience? Black Panther, much like many movies, is already doing this by creating products we can buy to keep the spirit of the movie alive beyond the movie theater.
Elevate black voices
This one seems obvious after seeing time and time again the strength and power of the black community, especially that black dollar. The Black Panther movie grossed over $200 million in its opening weekend, proving the strength of the Black community and the Black dollar. Not only did Black Panther tap into this strong earning potential, but elevating Black voices gave it something that so many movies are missing. It gave a positive, enriching, colorful and powerful perspective and narrative of Black people. [/pullquote]We’re tired of seeing our people cast as the stereotypical savage that white supremacy would have you believe that is the Black community. By giving a voice to the Black community, this movie gave our Black children positive role models to look up to who are doing much more than showing one side of our incredible athletic talent. It also shows our technological, medical, educational and leadership abilities. We’re pretty amazing and we’re more complex than the narratives we continue to see of Black people. Take a look at your business. Are you elevating Black voices? Do you have Black people on your team, better yet, in leadership? Do you have clients and customers who are Black? Are you concerning your business with the challenges of the Black community and being a part of the solution of bridging the gap and dismantling white supremacy? There’s much you can do, check out this article to get some great ideas.
There were countless scenes in the movie that illustrated Black Panther’s intentional message to elevate their values of Black pride/power/excellence, an overdue positive and dignified portrayal of Black people, gender equality, tradition & innovation and the Black community leading the way in technological advancements. The overarching message of imagining an Africa untouched by colonization and the potential to be the greatest and most advanced place in the world was clear, obvious and unapologetic. This movie will certainly appeal to many, but also repel others. And that’s the goal. Your business should be clear as to who it’s created for, which requires intentional business building, such as branding and marketing. What are the top values for your business? How are you clearly and unapologetically displaying them and infusing them into your brand?
Black Panther delivered so many incredible gems that just one viewing of it wouldn’t suffice. I plan to go back again and I’ll probably go another time after that. And as a business owner, it’s so refreshing to see so many incredible lessons on the big screen. It’s nice when learning can also be entertaining.
What did you take away from the movie? Which of the 7 things business owners can learn from Black Panther are you ready to implement in your business?