interpretations of adjectives, but we all
‘Manifestations and nuances may be understand archetypes in the same way.
different, but we all recognise a character
And they all lived happily
[the champion] who fights for truth in ever after…
defence of the weak’ It may be because I fritter away my
earnings on comics, and sub-Tolkien
fantasy novels, but I find it more excit-
Champion. This character is found is Indiana Jones’ ‘my brand is Peter Pan’. ing to think of myself as the author of
throughout myth, history and popular It isn’t enough to combine these with eternal brand stories than as someone
culture. Manifestations and nuances everything else on the brand pyramid or who writes strategy documents and
may be different, but we all recognise a creative brief.Tapping into the power of brand pyramids.
character who (usually but not always) archetypes isn’t about mouthing the Obviously, putting theory into practice
fights for truth in defence of the weak words, it is about being a living manifes- is never easy. From my personal experi-
(whether people or ideals).The Cham- tation of that archetype to your ence, and a quick web surf, it becomes
pion is Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King consumers. clear that this isn’t broadly held as a way
and Aragorn, William Wallace, Robin Alternatively, to create structure, some of viewing brands or brand management.
Hood and the Magnificent Seven. It have attempted to identify key master Apart from Dublin-based brand consul-
protects, empowers and champions the archetypes that exist in most cultures – tancy Alexander Dunlop, and Carol
underdog; it challenges unjust systems, notably Carol Pearson, author of Awak- Pearson’s rather disappointing The Hero
fights the bully and rescues people in en The Heroes Within and The Hero and and The Outlaw, little work has been done
distress. The Outlaw (6).The danger is that this in this area.Words and adjectives remain
When it comes to brands, the Cham- can tend to the stereotypical if used the norm. Unfortunately, people tend to
pion archetype can be seen in the likes of insensitively. However, as a start point it feel comfortable with convention, even if
Domestos, Which? or Virgin. No one stops you lurching into debates about it doesn’t deliver.
would say these brands are interchange- the relative merits of obscure characters It is easy to do things the accepted way.
able or undifferentiated. Quite the from mythology and folklore (7). More often than not, I do it. There is a
reverse. They all have a clear, distinct real danger of looking like a mad hippy
positioning in their markets, and these (another good stereotype) if you start
Here’s one I prepared earlier
positionings are consistent and potent. How does it work? Consider a household likening your client’s brand to characters
These brands all tap into the same cleaning product.You might start by dis- in fairytales. None the less, in true hero’s
recognisable archetype, but this actual- cussing whether your brand is a hero journey fashion, having received my call,
ly frees them to be different and avoids fighting against dirt and germs, I plan to throw caution to the wind, set
the descent into undifferentiated stereo- an innocent promising a return to the off down this path, and see what happens.
typing that comes when a brand lacks natural simplicity of Eden, or a caregiver
strong foundations (Figure 1). nurturing and protecting your family. 1. N Hawley: ‘Brand Defined’. Business 2.0,
The Champion is just one of many Having decided that the archetype you June 2000.
archetypes. These are also potentially want is the caregiver, you may then flesh 2. R Jensen: The Dream Society. McGraw-Hill,
limitless if you look to specific character out particular nuances. There may be 1999.
manifestations – for example ‘my brand secondary archetypes that are part of the 3. See www.tamicowden.com/archetypes.htm.
brand – while Richard Branson and Vir- 4. As quoted by Tom Peters at Tompeters.com.
gin embody the Hero archetype, there is 5. S Bedbury: ‘What Great Brands Do’. Fast-
also a bit of the Outlaw as well. Or there company, August 1997.
Brands as stereotype and archetype
may be particular examples of care- 6. See www.herowithin.com.
givers, real or fictitious, that might 7. See the Encyclopaedia Mythica at
capture how you want to be seen – are www.pantheon.org.
you an earth mother or Mother Teresa;
Florence Nightingale or Princess Diana?
Jon Howard-Spink is
It then becomes much easier to use
conventional techniques such as brand
director at Mustoe
pyramids. If everyone agrees that the Merriman Levy. He
brand is a caregiver as manifested by an has written five IPA
earth mother, you find that the words in Effectiveness Awards
papers, three of them
the boxes suddenly become more mean-
winners, and has
ingful and interconnected.
spoken at the MRS
It also becomes easier to judge conference.
whether an execution is right for the
brand – we may have different email@example.com