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Open up your mind. Jump as high as you can. Do twenty push-ups and then come back. Are you done already? Sorry, I was just kidding. Speaking seriously now, I challenge you to imagine a hero. What are his characteristics? Can you name a few?
Maybe what you imagined was a man with a red cape, one with a mask or a shiny armor. You may also have imagined Lara Croft or a badass woman in leather. Independently of your ideal superhero, there are common characteristics that everyone thought about. Courage, bravery, humanity or strength are just a few.
In any part of the world, a hero is someone who fights for ideals and defends what he believes. They can be both fictional or real. After all, we all know firemen, doctors, parents… And we all think of them in a very similar way.
Those similar ways of seeing the world define archetypes: human psychological templates that help us label things up. A hero is considered an archetype because it brings a common meaning through different continents and cultures. It is an image born thanks to the repetition of the same experience over generations. Somehow, that image is present in our collective conscious and shared by all humankind.
Technically speaking, the concept was created by Carl Jung, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. Later it was adopted by Carol S. Pearson and Margaret Mark in “The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brand Through the Power of Archetypes”.
There are 12 fundamental archetypes that can be applied to brands. Each one symbolizes the brand’s motivations, values and basic traits of human psychology.
But why do we need to assign an archetype to a brand?
New brands are born every day and each one has more tools to make noise. Most of these brands invest on creating louder buzz, but that doesn’t mean they actually create true long-term connections. Because they feel threatened by these new startups, big companies started spending thousands in order to follow trends that often don’t match their own identity. Result: they end up confusing and even destroying their businesses. It’s like a race, whose arrival is nowhere.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
From the moment that brands become aware of their essence, they can make decisions aligned with their values. The archetypes help us in that point, identifying the person that is simultaneously our brand, and that has desires, goals, weaknesses and motivations – like everybody!
This human personality allows brands to create identification, helping us establish the communication channels that suit them the most.
Defining an archetype for your brand
Disclaimer: there are other ways to find the archetype for your brand. The method we are about to present was the one we used, but that doesn’t mean that you should follow it step by step! Each brand is unique, so be creative and feel free to change some activities.
In order to define an archetype for your brand, you can use a theory that focuses on the four main human impulses. Look at the graph and see in which area your brand can be positioned.
After completing that exercise, you already reduced the number of archetypes you must consider. Now put the archetypes in cards or post-its and assemble a group of people who has a very close relationship with the company. Ask them which of the personalities they see in there are easily identifiable on your brand.
The next step is putting everything in cause and trying to focus only on the company’s core values. What are our real motivations? What are our weaknesses and how we act upon the challenges? In the end, there will be one or two archetypes that people identify the most with the company. Already did that? Then, it’s done. You found your archetype!
Archetypes for new brands
But what if the brand is new and is still being structured? That would be an even better scenario.
Why? Because the archetype is going to give a basis for every business decision. Instead of correcting some deviations, it will be capable of guiding the brand’s strategy since its conception. In this case, we won’t have to review the brand’s positioning, we will have to create a new one.
The article is already very long and I hope you enjoyed it. Despite, let me just conclude saying that this tool isn’t supposed to create restrict rules for brands but rather guide them to see even more possibilities for growth and differentiation, creating real relationships. After all, why scream louder if people don’t want to hear?