Archetypes have existed since the beginning of time, ehh, well at least since the 1900’s when a psychologist Carl Jung first used the term to describe universal, mythical characters that reside in peoples’ collective unconscious. They are part of how we understand people, ourselves, and the way the world works. They are how we form opinions or our own understanding of characters in movies or connect with people around us. But have you put any thought into what archetype(s) your brand would be? Is your organization a hero, rebel, or citizen? Even if you don’t geek out on brand strategy, it is interesting to think about.
Humanize Your Brand
Archetypes are not a super new concept in branding. They have been used for many years by communications teams, creatives, strategists, and agencies to uncover preferences and character traits in order to help us as marketers make meaningful connections with audiences. For example, using archetypes to truly understand your target audiences is an awesome way to get deep! But, I’m only exploring one tactic for the use of archetypes in branding. I think of this one as a “reality check for communications tactics”. Basically, a simple way to ensure that new communication pieces you are putting out to the world are authentic and consistent with your brand’s persona and even more specifically, in times of change.
What is an Archetype?
Archetype: a very typical example of a particular type of person or thing. Courtesy of MacMillan Dictionary Online
Most references to this subject outline 12 archetypes. But in Archetypes in Branding, a great book that inspired much of this post, the authors break down the most comprehensive list of archetypes I’ve seen. They touch on 60 different types and group them into “12 families” then list key characteristics (which really speaks to my inherent need to be thorough). Here is a quick overview of the families and their subsequent archetypes referenced in the book.
Anything ringing a bell here? Chances are, at least one of these feels familiar in terms of your brand’s essence. The book suggests that you may find that you have more than one archetype such as Creator- Translator. Citizen-Activist. Visionary-Provocateur. The list could go on and on.
Thinking Deeply About Who You Are During Times of Change
When undergoing a major transition in your organization, it’s worth your time to think about your archetype in terms of past and future. Are you still the same archetype or is your organization shifting away from one personification to another? If it is changing, then this exercise is particularly important for you it could help you fully understand the new “you” and set you off in the right direction.
Understanding your archetype’s strengths, core traits, and kryptonite…can help you rethink core messaging and potentially your visual identity in a purposeful way. For example think, “Would an __________________(ex. Innovator) say this, do this, and/look like this?” Perhaps the old brand’s archetype would, but not the new. On the other hand, maybe you are spot-on with the message you are sending out to the world. But having a way to double-check never hurts.
This post was based on/ inspired by a beautiful book called Archetypes in Branding
Back to all posts