Archetypes are concepts we use in crafting powerful brands. They help ensure the brand is ”felt” without explanation. This provides a path for simple, bold communication.
Archetypes are symbols, stories, themes, or characters that recur in literature, folklore, dreams, and rituals so frequently it suggests they embody some essential element of ‘universal’ human experience.
The concept of archetypes first took root in psychology.
Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of the subconscious mind upon which psychoanalysis was built. His work suggested that behaviors are influenced by our innermost thoughts.
Carl Jung advanced the concept into the collective subconscious, where shared experiences reside. His work suggested the idea of universal archetypes.
Joseph Campbell integrated human experience through mythology. His work suggested a universal journey we use as a metaphor for storytelling.
By appealing to the subconscious, archetypes bypass the intellectual mind and produce a feeling that’s memorable. They function like a bridge that connects the conscious and subconscious. Brands based in archetypes are instantly recognized and felt because they’re so familiar. This is what makes brand archetypes such a powerful tool.
Archetypes help us to understand the intrinsic meaning of product categories and consequently help marketers create enduring brand identity that can established market dominance, evoke and deliver meaning to customers, and inspire customer loyalty.
-Carol Pearson & Margaret Mark, The Hero and the Outlaw
There are 12 universal archetypes we refer to today in practice.
They form a guide for an easy-to-remember framework for establishing a brand’s position. In reality, there are many more archetypes, but they can usually be classified as subordinates of these twelve.
Whats your authentic brand archetype?
Freedom Motivated Archetypes
Yearn for Paradise
1. Innocent [safety] “Free to be you and me”
2. Sage [knowledge] “The truth will set you free”
3. Explorer [freedom] “Don’t fence me in”
Ego Motivated Archetypes
Leave a Mark on the World
4. Rebel [liberation] “Rules are made to be broken”
5. Magician [power] “I make things happen”
6. Hero [mastery] “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”
Social Motivated Archetypes
Connect to others
7. Lover [intimacy] “You’re the only one”
8. Jester [pleasure] “You only live once”
9. Citizen [belonging] “All are created equal”
Order Motivated Archetypes
Provide Structure to the World
10. Ruler [control] “Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”
11. Caregiver [service] “Love your neighbor as yourself”
12 . Creator [innovation] “If you can imagine it, it can be done”
Do you recognize an archetype that reflects the personality of your brand?
Chances are your brand mirrors one of the universal archetypes. Perhaps you’re a combination of two, like Explorer/Creator (the Flux Branding brand archetype). By identifying a brand archetype, you’ve taken a step toward building a brand that will resonate.
It’s important that your brand archetype is authentic to who you really are, not what you aspire to be. In human relationships, we evaluate people by how they act, not by how they think. Brand archetypes facilitate relationships when they honestly align what the brand says with how it is perceived.
There are 2 key business benefits that result from defining an authentic brand archetype that your entire organize recognizes, supports and promotes.
1. Archetypes Prevent Brand Inconsistencies
Knowing “who your brand is” helps establish a consistent tone of voice. This tends to bring a common attitude for all written messaging.
Archetypes all have a straightforward purpose that defines your brand purpose. This prevents constant reinvention which can confuse your audience.
Communications and campaigns can align with a unified concept. This helps creatives and marketers focus on aligned objectives across multiple efforts.
2. Archetypes Enhance Brand Trust
Archetypes have associated stories that audiences immediately recognize. This is the basis for a brand story and value journey customers will take.
Familiarity with iconic legends evokes memorable, emotional reactions. This bypasses the intellect and appeals to the subconscious.
Brands that align clearly with an archetype reflect the aspirations and sentiments of certain types of people. This supports market segmentation and targeting to a specific niche.
Traditionally, marketing sought to understand audiences by demographics. But with increasingly complex communications systems and extensive profiling data, it’s evolved into psychographics and ethnographics— the realm of cognitive orientation. Brand archetypes help us engineer a predictable reaction with target audiences.
Ready to explore your brand archetype? It’s a powerful toolset that can make a dramatic impact on your business. There are many ways to get started.
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion
Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts
Carol Pearson & Margaret Mark, The Hero and the Outlaw
Clotaire Rapille, The Culture Code
Tom Kelly, The Ten Faces of Innovation
Edith Hamilton, Mythology
Clarissa Pinkola Este, Women Who Run with the Wolves
Bruce Tallman, Archetypes for Spiritual Direction
Margaret Pott Hartwell & Joshua Chen, Archetypes in Branding
Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind
Interested in learning about your brand archetype?
Contact us to discuss the possibilities.
Dress up as your favorite archetype for Halloween.
Today is First Tuesday, October 2019.