The Mandalorian Model: What You Can Learn About Marketing from ‘Star Wars’

When people think of “Star Wars,” the words “conflict” and “chaos” may come to mind. Let’s face it: The residents of the planets across George Lucas’ galaxy rarely live peacefully. Our problems here on Earth are different, but we still have to contend with conflict and chaos.

Consider how public perception and current events can impact our brands or marketing initiatives. We often need to learn how to act on the fly.

Despite the differences between our world and the “Star Wars” galaxy, we can learn a number of lessons from George Lucas’ alternate universe. Take “The Mandalorian,” for example. Here are five things you can learn about marketing from the hit Disney+ TV series and its main character. (We’ll just call him “Mando.”)

1. Develop a strong, recognizable brand

Mandalorians are instantly recognizable, even in places where they’ve never been before. Their beskar armor and unique helmets make them stand out in any crowd. Peli Motto on Tatooine instantly knows who Mando is, thanks to his gear. And when they land on the remote planet of Sorgan — even though Mando mentions he’s never been there before — the krill farmers recognize him. One immediately says, “You are a Mandalorian, right? Or at least wearing Mandalorian armor. That IS Mandalorian armor, right?” The bounty hunter is totally recognizable, even to complete strangers. 

Following this example can nab your company similar benefits. If you own a business or are responsible for developing a brand, make sure your logo and other identifying features are memorable. Distinguish yourself from the competition — by establishing a proprietary style of décor, customer service techniques, or other standout qualities. Consider giving away or selling custom printed items like tote bags to help make your brand become more visible. The more attention you can grab, the more familiar people will become with your brand.

2. Know when to trust your gut

Mando fulfills his side of the bargain with the Bounty Hunters’ Guild by handing off The Child (aka “Baby Yoda”) to loyalists of the former Empire. But before leaving, he instinctively asks the client what they plan to do with “it.” This question is highly irregular and just asking breaks the code of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild.

Adhering to the code, the client doesn’t answer. But later, as he heads off to claim his next bounty, Mando’s gut is clearly telling him something’s wrong. So he returns to reclaim Baby Yoda from the warlord and, upon rescue, finds The Child to be highly distressed.

If you’re in the midst of a deal, investment, promotion, purchase, or other business situation where an important decision must be made, it’s OK to rely on your gut instincts sometimes. Data is great for helping you inform yourself, but isn’t the last word in every situation — especially if something feels “wrong.” Also, not every decision you make will have a quantifiable result, so you must sometimes go on your intuition and experience.

3. Know when to take risks

This goes hand-in-hand with trusting your gut. There are just times you have to take a calculated risk even though you know the consequences might be severe. After the Empire fell, the Mandalorians had gone into hiding to survive. Yet, they emerge again to aid Mando’s escape with The Child. They do so at great risk to their safety, revealing themselves to the stormtroopers and other imperial loyalists. But they take this risk because they understand the importance of Mando’s actions.

In marketing, you don’t always know which big initiative is going to pay off. You can do your research, collect the data, and create your campaign. Many ventures will succeed, though some might not. (Remember The Gap’s new logo fail in 2010?) Even though an idea may flop, you never know which one will become the next brilliant or successful marketing campaign. The key is to know when it’s a good time to take a risk — as timing is everything — and what level of risk you can absorb, just in case.

4. Master the art of negotiation

Mando learns from new friend Kuiil that violence isn’t the solution to everything, that negotiation could be a useful alternative. He allows Kuiil to barter so he can get parts from his ship back from the scavenging Jawas who stole them. Mando later uses his new skill while working with Toro Calican to pursue the assassin Fennec Shand on Tatooine. To reach their destination, they must cross Tusken Raider territory, so Mando takes Toro’s binoculars and gives them to the raiders. In exchange, the Tuskens let the duo cross their land.

You don’t have to be in conflict with other life forms on different planets to use negotiation. You can use it in your everyday business dealings. It’s not always easy, but it can be very effective — and lucrative. Think about negotiating with your suppliers, vendors, and even your customers. Skillful negotiation can yield great results.

5. Know when teamwork can get things done

Episode 4 of “The Mandalorian” is all about teamwork. In it, Mando and The Child land on Sorgan, where Klatooinian marauders are using heavy-duty weaponized Imperial Walkers to attack a village of krill farmers. Mando and The Child team up with the villagers to fight them. The villagers want Mando to do all the work, but Mando and ally Cara Dune explain how they can’t beat the AT-STs alone. As a result, the villagers learn how to shoot, build a trap, and generally work together to fight back. The kids of Sorgan take on the care of Baby Yoda while the adults battle the Klatoonians. Everyone has a job to do. As a result of their teamwork, they defeat their enemy.

In a professional environment, relationships are vital to success. Whether it’s working toward a mutually beneficial goal or using your networking skills to build business alliances and deals, you’ll need to follow the principles of teamwork to get things done.

Knowing who you are, when and how much to risk, and when to ask for help are all imperative skills in daily life, business dealings, and intergalactic warfare. “The Mandalorian” is meant as entertainment, but a closer look at the storytelling reveals just how many marketing lessons lie beneath the surface.