The Power of Archetypes

By Vicky Holland, March 5, 2014 // Creative, Digital, Marketing

[About a 2 MIN read]

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Archetypes. What the heck are they? In our opinion, they are team-unifying, sales-generating branding essentials. In fact, successful companies have been using them for years.

By using archetypes, brands can tap into key emotional needs that are part of “collective unconscious” (you can thank psychiatrist Carl Jung for this heady description). In short, there are 12 archetypes that are consistently identifiable in every character throughout the history of storytelling.

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Brands that successfully mine their archetype and allow it to come through everywhere, typically do best. Those that jump around the archetype spectrum do worse. Here are some examples.

The Ultimate Caregiver

Campbell’s Soup repeatedly tells the story of the Caregiver. Their goal is to protect and care for others. All of their communications appeal to this sentiment, demonstrated perfectly by this classic TV spot.

The Hero In Us All

Nike has successfully mined the Hero archetype and instinctively taps into something relevant in all of us. Even their name Nike – the Greek Goddess of victory – ties directly back back to the Hero archetype.

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The Patchwork Archetype

Levi’s – is a good example of a brand that had tried being multiple archetypes all at once. They’ve ventured from Outlaw to Hero, from Explorer to Jester – and their market share declined accordingly. They have now returned to their Explorer roots and have once again regained their footing. Their net income soared 17% one year into their unified Global “Go Forth” campaign, and has increased every year thereafter.

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Finding Your Archetype

So, how do you determine your brand’s archetype? That’s not a simple answer; however, a few places to start are:

  • What was the motivation of the founder?
  • How you perceive yourself?
  • How would you like to be perceived?

For us, we like to start by understanding how customers perceive your brand. While the internal viewpoint is important, the external one is critical. That’s where we started when we began to explore our own archetype, and any clients we’ve taken through this process.

So, what’s the moral of all this? For lasting happiness, be monogamous to your archetype.

Author

Vicky Holland
Vicky Holland

As an energetic industry veteran and President of Pathfinders, Vicky Holland comes in each day fueled with equal parts enthusiasm and caffeine. Her genuine love for marketing galvanizes the entire staff and keeps bold, eye-opening strategic direction brewing. After nearly thirty years in the biz, work has never once become a daily grind to her. She’s fearless and fiercely determined to provide solid results in her strategic planning, brand positioning, and new-business goals.

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