ARCHETYPES VERSUS STEREOTYPES
Brands are made by humans and it’s that inherent humanity which makes them so very powerful. We respond to the best brands because they capture some aspect of our humanity and reflect it back to us.
The term ‘Archetype’, as it is used in marketing today has its origins in Carl Gustav Jung’s theories of universal, mythical characters that lie within the collective consciousness of people the world over. Archetypal images represent human desire and evoke deep emotions. They are intuitive and provide the emotional shortcut for understanding human stories.
In branding terms delivering the message through one of them ignites a certain emotional aspect within us. In other words an Archetype is a human type in its purest form; the classic hero, outlaw or wise man. Each one has its own set of values, meaning and personality traits.
However, the one danger is seeing archetypes as a ‘stereotype’ – to develop an oversimplified image or idea that is simply grafted onto a brand. Our brand cannot simply put on a suit of hero clothes and play the hero. There has to be a real relationship with the brand and its archetype.
Archetypes are said to be timeless but our communication needs to be of our time. The story of Cinderella and the Lover archetype is still appealing to us all but how much more compelling does it become when it is turned into ‘Pretty Woman’ with Julia Roberts.
The brand archetype is only a starting point, a foundation for a brand personality and the brand story. The choice of archetype is where the work really begins. Take time to create your brand story and be sure to set in the cultural context. Used correctly archetypes can exert a powerful influence not just on the brand but on the audience too.
If you want to know more about developing the right personality for your brand – ask us now – send us a message and we’ll pay for a one hour work shop.
The Hero and the Outlaw – Building extraordinary brands through the power of Archetypes – Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson