Archetypes personify their own world, their own story. They are recognizable characters, with recognizable feelings, desires and their own purpose in life. By involving them in making your identity and your story visible, they already do a lot of work for you that would otherwise require many words and explanations.
Carol Pearson is our third source of inspiration. She has put a lot of effort into researching the archetypes and has also involved the wonderful world of marketing (branding people and products). She does this in a richly documented manner and is able to explain it quite simply, while the archetypes themselves are far from simple and unambiguous. That is precisely their strength! View her work and be inspired, but don't make yourself smaller than you are by doing all kinds of tests or archetype assessments. The richness of the archetypes lies precisely in their humanity and their versatility and in the fact that they cannot be captured. Just like you ultimately cannot be captured in 1 model or in 1 description. We neither. That makes us human. That makes us interesting. Also for others.
If you pay attention, you'll see this type frequently in stories, fairy tales, and films.
It's the fairy godmother in "Sleeping Beauty," Mrs. Potts in "Beauty and the Beast," Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars," Mother Teresa, Mary Poppins, Cinderella herself but also Hagrid in "Harry Potter." Brands like Zwitsal and Robijn appeal to the same archetype. Zwitsal even features the round baby head in its logo. Robijn has its fabric softener presented by a teddy bear. What do we immediately understand? That by using this brand, we are taking good care of everything that is vulnerable, sweet, and soft. The "branding" awakens the caregiving archetype in us.
The choice of an archetype for branding your brand actually only works convincingly if it really "fits," if it isn't just a trick concocted by the marketing department. Archetypal branding shouldn't be a mask, or packaging. No, on the contrary. Archetypal branding should help make the true identity visible and help tell the still hidden story.
Take Greenpeace for example. The name might suggest something peaceful. The work they do could also be seen as the work of a caregiver. After all, they protect what is vulnerable, what is allowed to grow, what is threatened. But the caregiver wouldn't fit at all with the "branding" of that organization. Because the "nature" of the organization is more "rebellious" and "combative". They engage in the fight. Their flagship is not called the Rainbow Warrior for nothing. They are not the Mother Teresa among environmental protectors (for example, the seal sanctuary in Pieterburen fits that role much more), but rather Che Guevara or Robin Hood. In branding Greenpeace, the use of the well-intentioned rebel is utilized. Everyone knows that type. They might be naughty, but they fight for a greater good and that's why we support them.
Archetypal branding is a fancy term for what is essentially a simple approach. Simple, yet brilliant. Let's unpack that, shall we?
Scientific research has proven what we all, deep down in our hearts, knew to be true. Namely, that as long as "language" has existed, stories told by people all over the world, across all cultures, and among all peoples, are constructed in the same way. They share the same themes and contain a number of clearly recognizable personalities as main characters.
Take the wise old man, for example. The old hermit, the mentor, the all-knowing one. You see him as Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings," as Dumbledore in "Harry Potter," as Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid," as Oprah Winfrey, and Morgan Freeman in almost every role he's played.
You notice the rebel, the outlaw, like Jack Sparrow in "Pirates," like Robin Hood, like Amy Winehouse. When thinking of the innocent, the child, the pure, your mind goes to Bridget Jones, Snow White, Forrest Gump, Amelie, and Neville Longbottom.
We all recognize these figures. They are emotionally baked into our brains, just like walking, breathing, and consciousness. They have become part of the human species. We call these personalities archetypes.
We use these archetypes as a tool to translate precisely who our client is. When we create a visual identity for someone, we find it important that this visual identity aligns seamlessly with who they are inside. We refer to the archetypes in our process to say a lot about the identity that needs to be translated with few words. Because you, we, and everyone else – including the people in your target audience – will recognize these archetypes, either consciously or unconsciously, they will intuitively understand which personality is being represented. What story is being told.
Does it still sound vague?
Okay, here are a few more examples.
What do we nearly all associate round, small, soft, and fluffy with? Exactly, with babies, young animals, puppies, chicks. What does this evoke in most of us: tenderness, protection, "I need to take care of this". The archetype activated in us is the caregiver.
We know the archetypes well because we find the work of Carl Gustav Jung very fascinating and often study it. He is the one who first explained how this actually works in our psyche and in our soul. He was not a master storyteller himself (you can't have it all), so his work is not suitable for a quick scroll through, but we recommend everyone to delve into it anyway. We will dedicate a blog or two to it later, but what he actually describes is a kind of psychic DNA. The human DNA not only determines that we can walk upright, develop consciousness, find language for emotions, etc. Our human predisposition also contains psychological structures that we all have in common. This also includes the archetypes. By archetypes we mean a set of emotions, behavior, goals, fears and desires, which together form a personality, as it were. For example, the personality of a king, or a rebel, a hero, an anti-hero, a mother and so on. These personalities not only become visible in stories, fairy tales and films, but they also live in each of us. Because they belong to our common psychic DNA. That is why we recognize them when we encounter them outside ourselves. For example in a fairy tale, but also in a product, or a company or in someone else who lives that special archetype (and the other less so). Examples of the latter? Mother Teresa as the caregiver, Bishop Tuto as the sage, Che Guevara as the rebel, Putin as the ruler, the King of Butan as a real king, but also Beyonce as a queen (Queen Bee).
The one who first demonstrated the existence of those story structures and archetypes in all of us is Joseph Campbell. Read that man's work (!) and watch the videos of him that are still available on YouTube. It is so rich and moving and it makes it so clear what we as people have in common and what moves us. In the context of our own work, The Hero's Journey is really of basic importance. We will tell you much more about that at a later stage. But right now it's important that you know this: This Hero's Journey, the Hero's Journey, is the story of you and me and everyone. What is it? No idea! Because it is such a strong concept, there are of course all kinds of smart people who have turned it into something like a product or a game or a concept. But that's not possible at all. The point is that the structure of the Hero's Journey is recognizable to everyone as a story about him or her. At the same time, your final story is just as unique and incomparable to anything or anyone else as you are. The Hero's Journey is what unites us, our own story is what makes us unique.
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