Darth Vader

Darth Vader

It's iconic villains who have compelling arcs and styles, that spark our interest. I share how the story of Darth Vader could add depth to your creator brand.

Published Jun 09, 2023
Reading time 3 min read

And the story goes:

In the galaxy far away, a young Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, stands at a crossroads. There’s nothing calm about him – only fear and loss spiral within him, drawing him closer to an ominous path.

A whisper, “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” Could this be a solution – a way to save Padmé, the love of his life, and prove to the Jedi Council his true potential and ambition?

Little does he realise that this moment of desperate yearning for power and control would shape not only his path but of the entire galaxy. The next decision he makes, the next step he takes pulls him deeper – to his destruction and the birth of a sinister Sith Lord – Darth Vader.

This pivotal moment sets the stage for how Anakin’s – or already Darth Vader’s – story would go. In today’s issue, let’s navigate this iconic villain’s narrative.

If you want to add depth to your creator brand and resonate with your audience, this might be right up your alley.

Behind The Character

Laboured breathing. Black cape. Black helmet. Deep voice. Dead stare. But also, a mind-blowing heads-turning “Luke, I’m your father.” The most iconic aspects of Darth Vader, all designed by George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars.

What you see at first glance – a towering figure in an all-black iconic outfit, with a helmet and cap inspired by Samurai armour, Nazi uniforms, and gas masks, imposing voice to match the menacing appearance. All of this leaves a lasting and intimidating impression.

And as the story unfolds, the villain turns into a complex and layered character, with a tragic past. His character development – from a heroic Jedi Knight to an evil Sith Lord, to an ultimate redemption through saving his son – is emotional, to the point we feel for him and empathise. Even though – or especially – he is a villain.

From shock and fascination, to empathy and redemption from the audience – that’s the genius of George Lucas and the Star Wars team, with attention to detail and intentional storytelling.

Mapping Out The Narrative

So, what made Darth Vader a widely recognised and understood character?

My personal take is this: The combination of an incredibly telling image of a villain AND a complex story arc that gives context to why he did what he did. (It makes him… human.)

Let’s tackle the memorable design – that’s the first thing we notice that reveals almost everything we need to know about the character.

Darth Vader has a unique aesthetic that delivers impact. You should feel terrified – that’s the message. From the forms and textures to the all-black ensemble, Vader doesn’t need to do much to draw attention, when his outfit – and thus, his presence (especially against a flock of white stormtroopers) – does it perfectly well.

And the cherry on top? His deep voice and a dramatic reveal – all match the ominous appearance and enhance the message.

If the visual makes him memorable, it’s the backstory that fosters the connection with the audience. His origin story doesn’t justify his actions, but gives us a glimpse into where it all went wrong.

Vader's backstory and evolution over time gave his character depth and relatability. It wasn’t an obvious villain story – there were high stakes communicated in layers through the deaths of his loved ones, the lack of validation from the Jedi Council, and the lack of trust in institutions to bring peace. All of it resulted in hunger for power and control.

However, it’s his ultimate redemption that showed an emotion within the narrative that we could relate to.

The key point that stands out is the fact that knowing somebody’s backstory can make it or break it. It can be the difference between a relatable brand – or one we forget.

First things first, don’t become a villain – even compelling origin stories and unforgettable styles are not worth it 😉

But what you can do is the following (grab a drink of your choice and take 10-15 minutes to write down your thoughts on these two points):

  1. Craft your backstory: What was the tipping moment that brought you where you are right now? Write it down – nothing fancy, but this is what you can refer to when communicating why you do what you do.
  2. Align your visual with your context: What do you want others to think and feel when they see you out in the digital world? That’s where you can use visuals to differentiate yourself and match the impression people get with your message.

These two simple aspects can help you create a brand as iconic as Darth Vader – minus all the evil, I hope 😬

Seeing Through Stories

Navigate the world of brand strategy, every Friday

Every week, I will send you a TV or book character breakdown and what made them iconic – and how you can apply those insights to your creator brand.