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Category: Brand Archetypes

Brand Archetypes

Building The Most Likeable Brand Architecture

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Brand Architecture Strategy

While much has been written about when you should revisit your brand architecture and the things you should consider in doing so, often the conversations around how to structure brands seem to center on hierarchical concerns. “What do we have?” “How do we need to group it?” “How many levels?” “Is it consistent?”

They’re great questions. There is certainly a case for seeing brand architectures in functional and logical terms. I contend though that a brand’s architecture really exists to make sense for customers, not the brand owner. And that sense is not just rational. Here’s a nice observation from Marketing MO: “your brand architecture should uncover the specific emotions around which you might build your brand.” In other words, your brand should be collected and organized in ways that appeal to your buyers’ emotive needs and how they want to feel about you. So what are you doing, as you remodel how your brands co-exist, to ensure that the structure is working to maximize relationships?

Here are three things to consider:

1. Who do customers want to interact with? As I said earlier, brand owners often arrange their brands in ways that work for them and that suit their organizational resourcing. If they think about what the consumer wants at all, they do so in the context of what the brand itself feels comfortable delivering or who it feels comfortable being.

Different brand structures put the emphasis of the relationship in very different places for consumers. A power brand, for example, pivots its appeal around a star and all the heritage, reassurance, familiarity, one point of call and/or kudos that such a single point of light delivers. A house of brands is made up of many brands but, ironically, is often just as singular in its approach to relationships – with consumers dealing with a brand in that house for a reason. Endorsement brands bring quality and standing to a brand for which consumers can need that level of reassurance.

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Brand Archetypes

Brand Archetypes Defined

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Whereas the brand personality uses adjectives to describe the brand as if it were a person, the brand archetype, based on Jungian archetypes, indicates the brand’s driving force or motivation. Several books describe brand archetypes. Two of my favorites are: (1) The Hero and he Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes by Margaret Mark & Carol S. Pearson and (2) Winning the Story Wars: Why those who tell – and live – the best stories will rule the future by Jonah Sachs.

Following are my favorite brand archetypes:

The pioneer – one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise or progress
Famous pioneers: Henry Ford, George Eastman, Steve Jobs, Patagonia, Tesla Motors

The rebel – one who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler
Famous rebels: Ron Paul, Apple, Occupy Wall Street, Edward Snowden

The defender – one who makes or keeps others safe from danger, attack or harm
Famous defenders: John Muir, Jane Goodall, The Nature Conservancy, Tea Party, Boy Scouts of America, ASPCA

The savior – one who frees or delivers others from confinement, violence, danger or evil
Famous saviors: Jesus Christ, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders

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Brand Archetypes

Brand Strategy And Jung’s Archetypes

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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.

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