Archetypes in product branding are nothing new. The Jungian-based psychology behind the use of archetypes began in earnest shortly after World War II. Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, also conceptualized the theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious. His theories certainly seem to have great merit, given their unparalleled success when applied to consumer marketing and product branding.
Two Examples of Effective Archetypes
One long-standing example of such success dates back to 1955 with the advent of the Marlboro Man. The campaign featured an archetypal rugged, straight-shooting, unpretentious American cowboy. Within a short time after its debut on the airwaves and in the print media, sales jumped by over 5,000 percent.
Men identified intrinsically with the cowboy archetype.
Another is the fun-loving happy clown archetype embodied in Ronald McDonald. He first appeared on the scene in 1963 and was instrumental in propelling the small hamburger franchise into one of the world’s largest multinational corporations. Kids and families believed that McDonald’s was a happy place, a place of fun and good food.
Additional examples abound; however to understand the purpose for using these archetypes, and the reasons for their success, we must examine the psychology behind them.
The Collective Unconscious and Human Behavior
Psychology is the study of the human psyche, the mind’s role in and affect upon human behavior. It is a science, and contrary to what some would have us believe, no science is perfect. To understand psychology, one must accept that the frontier of the human mind remains largely unexplored.
Jung’s theories of archetypes relate to his theory of the existence of a collective unconscious. Another famous student of the psyche, Sigmund Freud, affirmed that each person has his or her own personal unconscious mind or mental state. Jung expanded this by asserting that in addition to that state, all humans shared a deeper state, which he called the collective unconscious. It is in this realm that one finds primordial thought patterns and instincts that evolved in the human psyche over the period of human physical evolution.