Marvel’s Iron Man: Why Sharing Your Company’s Origin Story Builds Stronger Customer Relationships

This week, we’re taking inspiration from the origin story that launched an entire cinematic universe: the origin story of Marvel’s Iron Man. We’re showing you how to apply the structure of the hero’s journey to your company’s origin story so that your customers become superfans.

Episode Summary

Marketers are always focused on what’s next. We’re constantly planning the next campaign, predicting trends, and conducting research. Always onward!

But there’s a critical piece of content from the past that you’re probably overlooking: your company’s origin story. It’s a powerful tool you can leverage to detail your company’s mission and align customers with your values to get deeper buy-in and drive sales.

This week, we’re taking inspiration from the origin story that launched an entire cinematic universe: the origin story of Marvel’s Iron Man. We’re showing you how to apply the structure of the hero’s journey to your company’s origin story so that your customers become superfans.

About Marvel’s “Iron Man”

Iron Man is a 2008 superhero movie based on the Marvel comic book character created by Stan Lee. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr., as Tony Stark, Gweneth Paltrow as his personal assistant Pepper Potts, Terrence Howard as James Rhodes, and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.

The storyline follows rich businessman and inventor Tony Stark after he’s kidnapped and forced to build a deadly weapon. Instead, he builds himself a high-tech suit and escapes – only to uncover an evil plot to cause devastation around the world. He then vows to fight evil as Iron Man.

The Hero’s Journey

The hero’s journey is a narrative structure in which a character goes on an adventure, faces a crisis, comes away victorious, and returns having undergone a transformation. Author Joseph Campbell analyzed the hero’s journey in his seminal 1949 book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” He defined a hero as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” This structure is one as old as storytelling itself; it has been used from The Odyssey to Star War to Harry Potter – and Iron Man, of course!

Key Takeaways

What B2B Companies Can Learn From Marvel’s “Iron Man”:

  • Share your company’s origin story. Attract your ideal customers by showcasing your company’s journey. Telling your story demonstrates your company’s mission and fundamental values, and most importantly, it helps you distinguish yourself from your competition. This is especially important as consumers trend towards aligning their values with their spending. How does this apply to Iron Man? We wouldn’t appreciate his character without seeing his growth from self-absorbed jerk to the selfless hero he becomes. Even though Iron Man is a billionaire genius living in a Malibu mansion, we are invested in his compelling emotional arc.
  • Show both the successes and the struggles. Let’s be real. Starting a company isn’t easy. It’s a journey – and dare we say it, a Hero’s Journey! But part of the Hero’s Journey is that you will make mistakes – and no one is immune from this. For example, back in 2015, Apple got negative publicity – notably from Taylor Swift – for offering a free one-month trial of streaming in which artists wouldn’t receive royalties. Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services tweeted an apology: “#AppleMusic will pay artists for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period,” and, “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Not long after, Taylor Swift struck a deal with Apple to stream her latest tour exclusively on the platform. Apple owned up to their mistakes quickly and transparently, allowing them to be on the public’s (and Taylor Swift’s) good side again. But being transparent about your values also means living up to them as well. The founders of tech company Basecamp have made improving work culture an integral component of their brand. They have published five books related to the topic and make resources like their company handbook publicly available. “Treating people right is fundamental to how we do business,” they write on their website. However, their actions didn’t line up with their values. A third of their employees resigned after Basecamp put in place a policy banning “societal and political discussions.” The takeaway? Posting your values on your website is only one step. Living up to them is even more important. And if you fall short of your standards? Apologize and make it right. That’s what Basecamp did.
  • Keep telling your story. Every time you make a big decision, make sure it aligns with the values embedded in your origin story. Communicate your reasoning with your audience. Your transparency will strengthen your audience’s trust in you – and help you continue to build a loyal group of sidekicks!

*”With business storytelling, we focus on the timeline of accomplishments and not the thought and the rigor, the difficulties and the struggles that go into those middle pieces because we don't want to air dirty laundry. But if you illuminate the process a little bit more, you'd get a richer story.” - Ian Faison

*”Another element to explaining what your mission is and bringing people on that mission is bringing them on the journey with you and continuously giving them updates on things from a business perspective. I like when there's an emotional connection between me and the brand. And a lot of times a good way to do that is through social media, for example. So, like I use Canva, as an example. And I follow them on LinkedIn. It's the only business account that I follow on LinkedIn. And I actually care what they post because I feel like I'm going on a journey with them. You feel like you're a part of it. And I think that's a really key element to building a relationship with your audience.” - Colin Stamps

“If you anchor back to your origin, it shows the reason for your mission. This is why we have these values as a company. This is why we believe in the vision that we're trying to achieve, is having this foundational element of a company that we set out to solve. It feeds into a future looking assessment of where you want to be. And that's why the origin story is so important.“ - Ian Faison

Episode Highlights


Watch Marvel’s Iron Man

What’s the Hero’s Journey?

See how Canva connects with customers on LinkedIn

Read Dick’s Sporting Goods origin story

See how an ice axe inspired the founding of REI

About Remarkable!

Remarkable! is created by the team at Caspian Studios, the premier B2B Podcast-as-a-Service company. Caspian creates both non-fiction and fiction series for B2B companies. If you want a fiction series check out our new offering - The Business Thriller - Hollywood style storytelling for B2B. Learn more at

In today’s episode, you heard from Ian Faison (CEO of Caspian Studios), Dane Eckerle (Head of Development), Colin Stamps (Podcast Launch Manager), Anagha Das (B2B Content Marketing Manager), and Meredith O’Neil (Senior Producer). Remarkable was produced this week by Meredith O’Neil, mixed by Scott Goodrich, and our theme song is “Solomon” by FALAK.

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