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Archetypes in Branding

Chris Dickman Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:06

Excerpted with permission from Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists
(F+W Media, imprint HOW)
By Margaret Pott Hartwell & Joshua C. Chen


What Are Archetypes and How Can They Help?

Archetypes embody the universal stories and journeys that all human beings share: the story of the Alchemist within the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin, the Hero’s journey in Shakespeare’s Henry V, the story of the Lovers in Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine, the archetypal depiction of the Child in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince and the story of the Ruler King Arthur in Camelot, to name but a few.

We offer this book, Archetypes in Branding, and the accompanying deck of cards as a new means for collaborating on branding and communications projects. Beyond the linear, logical aptitudes of the left brain, currently employed with such rigor in branding and business, lives the possibility of an integrated approach that equally honors the characteristics of the right hemisphere—the “simultaneous, metaphorical, aesthetic, and contextual.” Archetypes in Branding enables users to explore business
and branding issues using the right side of their brains.

Defining Brand

For the purposes of this toolkit, we like Noah Hawley’s description of brand: “Part art, part science, ‘brand’ is the difference between a bottle of soda and a bottle of Coke, the intangible yet visceral impact of a person’s subjective experience with the product—the personal memories and cultural associations that orbit around it.”

To varying degrees and for various reasons, people are in relationship with brands. In human relationships, people come to know who you are by how you behave, not by how you say you behave. We are evaluated and understood by our actions, not necessarily by our intentions. How people are in relationships feeds into part of how Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap defines brand: “The brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”Archetypes can facilitate brand relationships by aligning what the brand says it
is, what it does and how it is perceived and known.

The Connection Between Archetypes and Brand

As both a face and a function, archetypes can reveal how a brand shows up in the world, how it is motivated and what triggers it. Very simply, archetypes can facilitate the understanding of a brand and why it attracts certain customers. We agree with Mark and Pearson’s following assertion: “Archetypes are strange attractors of consciousness. You attract customers when your brand is congruent with an archetype that is either dominant or emerging in their consciousness.”

An archetypal approach to branding will help humanize the process of being in business in general, and branding in particular, by enabling
greater humanity within all stakeholder relationships. While archetypal stories have enormous impact in marketing and communications, there is also commensurate value in observing how archetypes function within business and leadership style and, subsequently, how they affect the authenticity and trust of a brand and its outreach efforts. The Archetypes in Branding toolkit offers an intuitive approach for greater authenticity and success in brand creation and management—and most other aspects of being in business as well.

Who is this Tool for?

Designed for creatives (creative directors, copywriters, art directors, designers, photographers, storytellers, artists) and strategists (entrepreneurs, business leaders, planners, marketers, organizational development professionals) to balance the business and creative aspects of their work, these 60 cards can help bridge the gap that often is found between the cognitive and intuitive aspects of the brain. They function best as a companion tool that accompanies research, plans and initiatives to achieve more powerful, resonant and integrated results.

We have found that the archetypal filter helps people take responsibility for the underpinnings of their motivations and offers evolving insights into themselves and their work. Using it, we can engage in business and branding in a way that truly accounts for our shared humanity. We agree with Pearson and Mark that the phenomenon of applying archetypal knowledge and wisdom to brands is
“not about ‘borrowing’ meaning in an ephemeral advertising campaign, but rather becoming a consistent and enduring expression of meaning.”

Archetypes in Branding will invite you into a game whose moves involve the inner reaches of the soul. This package does not claim answers to life’s deepest mysteries. But it certainly provides good tools for plumbing those mysteries. Use these tools and they will provoke good questions; they will evoke vivid images; they will stimulate the kind of conversation that will match your market to your brand.