Thanks to Rana for inviting me to your class today.
I am a both a creative and strategy practitioner. I studied exercise physiology and photography in college, trained and worked as an actor and singer, built a career in advertising and design, and found my tribe in sustainable business and transpersonal psychology. I’m insatiably curious about the world: culture, people, places, nature. I’m a bit of a junkie for new ideas, technologies, frameworks, ways of thinking and anything connected to creativity and design.
In 2006, as part of my coaching training, I found myself called to explore how archetypes might guide my life and my work.
The book, Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists, is an artifact of that aha moment.
So in collaboration with Chen Design Associates, I set out to create a practical and accessible toolkit for using archetypes to facilitate a more authentic, holistic and human way of being in business. And I’m still on that mission today.
Archetype is one of those words that everyone seems to know but has trouble defining. So how do we define archetypes? Etymology: The term "archetype" has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means "original or old"; and typos, which means "pattern, model or type". The combined meaning is an "original pattern". Perhaps a story will bring it to life
silent yes. "Please, what was it? Gold? Silver? Were you smuggling food or spirits? Cloth, perhaps? Where did you hide it?" With each guess Nasreddin just shook his head. "Won't you tell an old man? I'll never rest in peace unless I know."
And because Nasreddin was a kind man and did not wish the inspector to spend the rest of his days worrying, he nodded, "Yes. I'll tell you now. I was smuggling donkeys." Archetypes are like the donkeys in the folktale. They are the signs, symbols and themes of our lives that are right under our noses, hidden in plain sight.
And for a more distilled definition
I hope that gives you a place to enter the archetypal conversation. My own personal shorthand definition is that archetypes are the shared universal narratives that drive both our conscious and unconscious motivations.
According to Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist (1875-1961) generally considered to be the grandfather of “archetypes”, they come from the collective unconscious – that shared place that is not of this physical world, but is always present and everywhere, where the inherited experiences of the human race reside.
Archetypes are the grooves and the ripples from the collective unconscious that influence culture, decision making and meaning making.
Psychologist James Hillman picked up on the work from his predecessors, our friends Sigmund Freud to C.G. Jung, to develop archetypal psychology. And Joseph Campbell introduced the concept of the hero's journey to current thinking, and popularized the very idea of comparative mythology—”the study of the human impulse to create stories and images that, though they are clothed in the motifs of a particular time and place, draw nonetheless on universal, eternal themes.”
Moved on from Marty Neumeier’s definition of brand (what other people say it is)
How we “understand” and perceive a company in relationship to our values
And how their feelings about these align with their needs, desires and expectations or how they make meaning out of what you do
I asked Rana for how she defines Brand Strategy and as you might expect our two perspectives dovetail into each other. Here’s how I combined our POVs
The intentional planning of communications, operations, experiences and relationships from the perspective that activities are intended to support dialogue, relationship, and shared goals and value.
Peeling away another layer, so how are archetypes actually connected to brand? Let’s look at a practical representation of how archetypes create instant emotional resonance through universal symbols and stories. Everybody will have some sort of inherent response, and emotional, energetic response
In this case I would assert we are in the realm of the Explorer, rather than the athlete.
We identify with symbolic elements of this film, the craving for new experiences, pushing boundaries, going beyond limits. ˇhere is a live and let live attiude in the explorer that prioritizes independence, non conformaity and freedom.
How do archetypes help us embody a more purposeful brand culture to unlock innovation?
By harnessing the power of the left hemisphere of our brains, archetypes can help create a business environment that is more conducive to innovation and respects logic and humanity equally. This respect builds trust that increases our capacity for ambiguity, our wilingness to take risks and reduces the identity attachment to fear of failure.
Using archetypes as an instinctual, exploratory tool can reveal your brand's motivations, how it moves in the world, and what its trigger points are.
And in the process of their usage, they can create some unexpected conversations that may reveal some unexpected ideas about how you shape your business and your brand, or how you help shape your client’s business and brand. Here’s another example from graphic design
In 2011, VSA Partners, Ogilivy and Mather and SY Partners were tasked to create a new visual expression for the one hundredth anniversary of IBM
Entitled “One Hundred Marks; One Hundred Stories,” a hundred of these unique visual “marks" were created to represent a IBM’s Icons of Progress. Each mark incorporates the number One Hundred plus illustration and photography to convey a key breakthrough or milestone -- such as the First Salaried Workforce, the Punch Card or Space Exploration.
They were used for various events, communications, campaigns and media to celebrate IBM’s accomplishments and rich history.
... the Innovator The one hundred visual expressions, individually and as a whole, demonstrate the strengths of the Innovator archetype — and associating IBM along with it: as a leader in idea generation, cross-pollination, inspiration, intellect and curiosity
The one hundred visual expressions, individually and as a whole, demonstrate the strengths of the Innovator archetype — and associating IBM along with it: as a leader in idea generation, cross-pollination, inspiration, intellect and curiosity.
When archetypes are used well they bring a humanness to the brand essence. This creates a richness and potency and emotional resonance between the viewer and the brand.
Archetypes “work” because they create shortcuts to making meaning. And this has huge implications for brands. The universality of archetypal stories creates emotional resonance and connection between the brand and the viewer on the relationship level.
And archetypes build relationships because they create instant emotional connections. This creates instant affinity.
You can use archetypes to unearth insights about preferences, values, sensibilities and aspirations, and to make meaningful connections across and between multiple business drivers.
But along side the encouragement to definitely “try this at home I offer three caveats about what archetypes are not… Be careful to distinguish archetypes from stereotypes. A quick rule of thumb is that stereotypes reflect a closed mindedness, judgment and limitation. Archetypes are the opposite. They are universal openings for connection and expansion. For example, The Soccer Mom is not an archetype – it’s a stereotype. The Caregiver would be the archetype. Can you feel the difference that these terms creates?
Because archetypes come from a powerful and collective foundation, and acknowledging that they are relationship-based, they require the conscious intention to use them for good, not manipulation. You all know the saying… “With great power comes great responsibility.” And karma can be a real zinger.
And lastly as stakeholders are increasingly demanding authenticity and accountability from companies, there is no hiding behind false archetypal branding. A brand still has to walk its talk to build authentic relationships which is the key to 21st century business success.
Because everyone loves “top whatever lists” here are our top 5 benefits of the role that archetypes play in brand strategy.
5. They are emotional rather than analytical 4. Which creates expansiveness rather than control 3. That fosters empowerment instead of management 2. That shifts the conversation from an agenda to a relationship 1. And that easily gets and maintains an organization and its many suppliers to stay on brand
By getting and staying on brand we create a consistent and enduring expression of meaning in the hearts and minds of our many stakeholders. We create long-lasting narratives that activate the deeper parts of our humanity. We source the courage to shift our stories from scarcity to empowerment and to be wholeheartedly “us”
The slide shows a mapping of our 12 fundamental archetypes to Pearson and Mark’s motivational field. I want to give a shout out to one of my students, David Chapin, CEO of Formal Life Science Marketing for collaborating with me on this graphic. The simple 2x2 combined with the cyclical continuum of the 12 fundamental archetypes offers a 30k foot view of the archetypes motivations. For example, The Sovereign is very highly motivated by Order, Stability and Control, while the Explorer pursues self-actualization and independence.
Citizen replaced everyman as a head in our deck, outlaw became rebel, ruler became sovereign
You’ll see many other interpretations of this plotting. The point is to find your own that makes sense to you and helps you include the polarities of competing motivations, and allow for all in the system
Which reminds me of an Antoine Saint Exupery quote, "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
As part of the Fun Theory campaign, Piano Staircase absolutely embodies the archetypal essence that has come to be synonymous with the brand.
Siblings: Dreamer // Idealist // Innocent //Muse
And this one (The Force) by Deutsch
Volkswagen has been demonstrating the consistent and successful use of the Child archetype for decades. Siblings: Dreamer // Idealist // Innocent //Muse
A personal favorite print ad from the 90s
Personas are generally composite creations based on an aggregate set of users that exhibit certain behavior. We use demographics, psychographics and ethnographics to “personify” these fictional characters representing our audience segments.
Using an archetypal lens moves the persona of your either your brand or your target audience more toward what matters and motivates them rather than using more stereotypical assumptions as characterizations.
Which leads us to another example, this time from German advertising agency Jung von Matt.
Combining the concept of encouraging people to experience the 2010/2011 season with their sense of taste with the results of scientific research on classical music and milk production, they offered 9 varieties of concert milk.
How do I see this as the alchemist? Because the alchemist is skilled at converting one think into another. It shares qualities with the magician and the scientist, of the scientific and spiritual. It achieves a kind of transcendence about how we view our world and challenges our lenses that limit the possibility of the power of the space between.
The Concert Milk campaign won a Silver Design Lion and Silver Integrated Lion at Cannes International Festival of Creativity.
With even just this most brief introduction to archetypes, you are primed to apply the concept to aid in your own work.
While writing the book, my muse was a quote by an Erwin Schrödinger: "Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.” I believe it is this perspective that is the wellspring of our creativity.
Exercising the analysis muscle Practicing a new language Experimenting with different reactions
Archetypes in Branding
Archetypes in Branding
22 AUG 2014
1. What is an archetype and where do they come
2. What role do archetypes play in branding?
3. Some examples interspersed
4. Why archetypes “work”
5. What archetypes are not
6. Role in Brand Strategy
7. Distinguish between persona & archetype
8. Mapping to motivational field
9. Intro to the families
10.Small group exercise
The intentional planning of
experiences and relationships
from the perspective that
activities are intended to
support dialogue, relationship,
and shared goals and value.
5. They shift our brains
from the analytical to the emotional
4. They shift management
from control to empowerment
1. Archetypes help organizations,
and their many stakeholders,
to get and stay on brand
2. They shift relationships
from audience to community
3. They shift communications
from push to pull.
• Concerned about the
environment for kids
• If you want
something you have
to go after it
• Injury: Not being able
to keep running
• Being ill-too busy to
• Logs training, calorie
and sleep on excel
Competes in 3-4
• Trains in 1-4 week
• Fewer gadgets
• Quick feedback if on
• Visualize training
• Personal training
advice and triathlon
• Finish an Ironman in
under 12 hours
• Inspire family to stay
• Maintain body fat at
Location: Brentwood, CA
Family: married, 2 teenage
Education: B.A. English
Social Media: FB, Twitter,
“I just need to know if I can train according to my plan or if I should modify.”
MOTIVATIONS: Transformation. Sacrifice.
Sovereign // Ambassador / Judge / Patriarch / Ruler
Thus the task is not so much to
see what no one has yet seen;
but to think what nobody has
yet thought, about that which
everybody sees. -Erwin Schrödinger
Identifying Archetypes: Group Exercise
1. Count off 1-3. Form groups (6 teams of 3 people each)
2. Each group gets 10 cards (2 families each)
3. Individually, choose one archetype that would be interesting
to apply to the brand you chose for your brand hack
4. Discuss your findings with your group.
5. As a group share one example. [2.5 minutes/group]
• The Hero and The Outlaw,
by Margaret Mark & Carol Pearson
• Goddesses in Everywoman, and
Gods in Everyman, by Jean Shinoda Bolen
• The Hero with A Thousand Faces,
by Joseph Campbell
• Sacred Contracts, by Carolyn Myss
• The Ten Faces of Innovation, by Tom Kelley