How Archetypes strengthen your brand
+ 3 ways to use them
(Don’t cha just love lego? I’ve stepped on more of these bad boys than I’d like to count. But this image perfectly represents how different we all are, and yet how we can connect and understand each other through the power of archetypes). Maybe a bit abstract, but you get the point.
What are archetypes?
Archetypes are defined as: a typical example of a type of person or thing, a mental image inherited from early human ancestors and present in our collective unconscious (according to Jung), and a reoccurring symbol in art, literature and mythology.
Archetypes date back to the time of Plato (and perhaps further) and have been interpreted and observed by many since. Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, really defined and delved into them in the early 1900s.
What does this really mean?
Archetypes are an understandable and relatable character type that exist in the collective unconscious. They exist in history and can be seen in people’s personalities today. Think characters in a play, book or film. Our human minds understand how archetypes work, even if subliminally, and it helps us to understand how a person or character is going to behave. It also helps us connect and relate to that character. For example, we all know the villain archetype. And, in a film, we understand how a villain is going to react in situations or how they’re going to behave. The same goes for a hero archetype. When you see a hero in a film or read about one in a book, we can understand how that hero is going to behave, it’s characteristics and we connect with him or her on an emotional level.
We can use this knowledge and apply it to our businesses to become more relatable and connect to our audience. Businesses used to solely rely on slogans, tagline and logos to differentiate themselves from their competition. But now it’s more complex. Nowadays, businesses literally view their brand as a person, and associate it with an archetype. If their brand is more like a person, then we (the audience) can connect to it on more of an emotional level.
We make so many of our purchases and decisions using our emotions.
Okay, there are some things….like toilet paper…that we may not. But, that doesn’t stop businesses from trying…..think Andrex (for my UK readers) with the cute little Labrador puppy or Charmin (for my US readers) and “Don’t squeeze the Charmin.” There are of course other factors that we consider when making a purchase like price, but when we’re making a big purchase our emotions are definitely a deciding factor.
If a business can connect to us on an emotional level, we’re far more likely to make that purchase and more likely to choose that particular brand over another. Think about it…if a business’s brand is more like a character, we’d know and understand how that brand was going to behave, what it’s characteristics were and what it stands for. And, if that business were to use that message consistently across all forms of media and advertising, then we’d really feel like we could trust that brand.
There are loads of archetypes, but in the interest of branding, I’m going to stick to the 12 most common archetypes. Please note that each archetype has positive and negative associates (light side and shadow side).
Harley-Davidson uses a very obvious archetype in it’s branding. Can you figure out from the images below which archetype they’re using for their brand?
If you guessed rebel, you’re right! If you look at everything from their logo to their ads, to their choice of wording and the imagery that they use, it’s all in line with the rebel archetype. I bet when I first mentioned Harley-Davidson in the blog, you instantly saw an image of a rebel on a motorcycle or tattoos. Am I right? That’s pretty effective branding, huh?
3 ways to use your archetype to strengthen your brand:
Voice: Imagine the types of words and phrases your brand would use if were a specific archetype. Use this tone in all your ads, newsletters, blogs, and social media accounts.
Imagery: Use imagery that fits your archetype and be consistent.
Colours: use a colour palette that would suit your archetype (see my infographic). Example: For a hero you’d want to use bold and bright, whereas for an explorer, you’d want to choose more earthy colours. Use these colours on your web site, logo, advertisements, and social media accounts.
No matter which archetype(s) you are, ensure that your message is clear, concise and very consistent to build trust.
Do you feel this was helpful to you and your branding?
Have you seen any clear examples of this in advertising?
If you want help determining your brand’s archetype or have any other questions, please book a FREE 15-minute session with me. Just click HERE.