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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

"May the fourth be with you."

"May the fourth be with you."

It's a greeting you can only use once a year, on "Star Wars Day".

Cheesy? Yes.

Geeky? Without question.

But what's important to understand about "Star Wars Day" is that it wasn't something that the company behind Star Wars created.

It was created by the fans.

Fans who loved the Star Wars franchise so much that they recognized and seized an annual opportunity to celebrate it, without asking for the company's permission to do so.

If you're a marketer lucky enough to have such enthusiastic fans for your brand, your job is to foster and enable their excitement, not try to control it.

The House of Mouse had a rare brand misstep last week when they issued a tweet encouraging people to share their favourite Star Wars memory using the hashtag #Maythe4th, then followed that up with a tweet that appeared to say, "If you tweet using our #MayThe4th hashtag, we own that tweet." You can imagine how well that went over with Star Wars fans.

Companies need to protect their intellectual property, of course, and people who are damaging your brand or illegally profiting from it need to be stopped. (To that effect, Lucasfilm holds active trademarks for "May the Fourth be with you" and "May the 4th be with you".)

But when people love your brand, what they actually love is their own interpretation of it.

Disneyland's motto may be, “The Happiest Place on Earth", but if you vacationed there with your family and had a miserable time, the company's words wouldn't trump your experience. In fact, if enough people had a miserable time at Disneyland, then "miserable" would come to define the brand, regardless of what the company might want.

You can define, implement, and communicate your brand however you like -- and it's part of a marketer's job to ensure those things are done really well -- but consumers are going to discover your brand on their own and interpret it for themselves.

And it's okay to let them.

- dp

P.S. Disney decided to release "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" on their streaming platform a few months earlier than planned on account of everyone being quarantined at home. And what better day to release the final installment of the Skywalker saga than on... May 4th?! It should be available for your viewing pleasure right now on Disney+.


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