Brands are more than entities that offer products or services; they embody personas that resonate with our deepest aspirations and values.
These personas, or archetypes, serve as the foundation upon which companies can build their brand identity, shaping how they are perceived and experienced by consumers on a deeper emotional level.
In this series, we’ll be exploring the 12 brand archetypes to see how some of the world’s most recognized brands align themselves with these timeless personas and how you can use them in your business.
But first, we need to understand where archetypes come from, how they’re used everywhere in modern culture, and why they work so well.
Where Do Archetypes Come From?
The concept of archetypes that we’re discussing in the context of branding has its roots in the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.
He introduced the idea of archetypes in his theory of the human psyche. Jung believed that archetypes are universal, archaic symbols and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct.
1. Jungian Archetypes: Jung identified several archetypes that represent fundamental human motifs of our experience as we evolved. These archetypes manifest in our dreams, fantasies, and cultural myths.
2. Collective Unconscious: Jung’s theory posits that these archetypes are inherited potentials that are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the external world.
3. Archetypes in Literature and Myth: Jung’s archetypes have been very influential in the study of literature, art, and mythology. They are seen as universal patterns that can be observed in the tales and myths that have permeated human culture.
6 Reasons Why The Archetypes Work So Well in Branding:
1. Universal Resonance: Because archetypes stem from common human experiences, they resonate universally. This means that when a brand leverages an archetype effectively, it can create deep connections with its audience.
2. Predictable Patterns: Archetypes help in predicting the kinds of behaviors and narratives that will most appeal to a brand’s audience. They provide a framework that can guide brand messaging and identity.
3. Emotional Engagement: Archetypes often engage people on an emotional level, which is more effective in influencing behavior than functional and rational benefits alone.
4. Differentiation: Archetypes can help brands distinguish themselves from competitors by aligning with a particular set of values and traits that appeal to their target audience.
5. Consistency and Clarity: A well-defined archetype can help ensure consistency across all of a brand’s marketing efforts, making the brand more recognizable and understandable to consumers.
6. Storytelling: Archetypes are essentially story characters and good stories are powerful marketing tools. By embodying a particular archetype, a brand can tell a more compelling story.
The Hero’s Journey & The Hero With A Thousand Faces
Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer who’s best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion.
Campbell’s work is deeply interwoven with Jungian archetypes because both deal with universal patterns and symbols found in narratives. His concept of the “Hero’s Journey,” also known as the monomyth, is detailed in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and is a significant contribution to the understanding of storytelling and its impact on culture and the human experience.
The Hero’s Journey framework outlines a series of steps that many heroes go through in various myths and stories from different cultures. This journey is a narrative pattern that is present in almost all Hollywood movies, books and fiction (and non-fiction) storytelling.
The Hero’s Journey often employs these archetypes as characters or roles within the story, such as the Mentor (Sage), the Shapeshifter (Outlaw), and the Shadow (Villain).
These characters serve to challenge or aid the Hero as they navigate their journey.
Why Is The Hero’s Journey Relevant in Modern Branding, Marketing & Advertising?
The Hero’s Journey offers a compelling narrative framework that can be used to tell a brand’s story in a personal way.
By positioning the brand as the “Hero” on a journey to overcome challenges and achieve great feats, companies can create a brand story that is dynamic and engaging.
For example, a brand might use the narrative of the Hero’s Journey to:
Illustrate the Brand’s Evolution: Just as the Hero grows and changes, the brand can show its development from humble beginnings to its current success.
Emphasize Overcoming Obstacles: Brands can highlight their challenges and how they’ve conquered them, akin to the trials in the Hero’s Journey.
Connect with Customers: By presenting the customer as the Hero and the brand as the Mentor, companies can position their products or services as crucial tools for the customer’s own journey toward success or fulfillment.
Craft Meaningful Marketing Campaigns: Campaigns can follow the structure of the Hero’s Journey to create anticipation, tension, and resolution, which are compelling narrative elements for an audience.
Our instinctual love for a good story helps brands forge a powerful connection with their audience, much like the enduring myths and tales have done throughout human history.
The Hero and The Outlaw: How Brands Use Archetypes To Create Meaning
The application of archetypes to branding was widely popularized by marketers and authors like Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson in their book “The Hero and The Outlaw”.
In the book, they laid out a framework for understanding and utilizing these archetypes in modern marketing.
Since then, the concept has been widely adopted in branding strategies across all kinds of industries to build stronger brand identities that resonate with consumers on a deeper, more emotional level.
This is only the beginning – next, we’ll explore the archetypes one by one, starting with ‘The Innocent’
It’s clear that these deep-rooted symbols offer much more than just a marketing strategy; they connect us to universal stories and emotions.
Through the lens of Carl Jung’s insights and Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, we see how brands can transcend the ordinary, turning every product and service into a chapter of a larger, more resonant narrative.
But this is just the beginning. In our next piece, we’ll explore the 12 specific archetypes, beginning with ‘The Innocent.’
Stay tuned as we uncover how to infuse your brand’s story with archetypes to connect deeply with your audience.