Jul 13, 2011

Using Archetypes in Marketing: Powerful Stuff

Archetypes are the bridge that connects people and brands. From Nike as the hero, Harley as the outlaw, Ivory as the innocent … archetypes work and work well. They are based on the wisdom of the ages; provide depth and resonance around human character, which we all relate with. Archetypes provide the missing link between customer motivation… why they might care about you… and your product sales. Archetypes are what people envision, what they feel, sense and want. They act as the draw between products and customer motivations by providing our cultural story-lines and signal the fulfillment of our desires [...]

Archetypal meaning is what makes brands come alive from an inanimate object. They are the heartbeat of the brand as they convey a meaning that makes people feel the brand is alive, a part of us somehow. Archetypes are what we relate with emotionally, how we feel when we have the urge to buy.

Plato called these patterns and imprints “elemental forms”, imprints hardwired into our psyche that influence the characters we like in art, movies, and music. Psychiatrist Carl Jung coined the term archetype and noted “these are forms and images of a collective nature which occur practically all over the earth.”

Joseph Campbell expanding upon the idea that archetypes are “basically the expressions of an inner human drama.” Campbell sat with George Lucas and helped him write the Star Wars Saga loosely based on Campbell’s thinking and his book, The Hero With A Thousand faces.

What is missing from that 43-year-old accountant? Harley is playing to that outlaw in us. Nike is appealing to our own hero’s journey as we struggle to stay in shape, Ivory to our hope to stay clean and pure.

These brands are doing something more, they have a relationship with us. They make us care about them by making us feel like they care about us. This is what archetypes do.

By themselves, nothing is wrong with any of these tactics. By themselves they represent nothing different than what your competitor is doing. The challenge is to pull them all together with a strong social identity that is naturally yours, that speaks with an authentic voice people will embrace.

These tactics combine with a powerful archetypal voice across all social conversations, social activities and social media to play a harmonic theme based on your core as a brand. That speaks with an authentic voice everyone will recognize.

What I want to happen is to combine all these tactics with archetypal voicing that excites people to tell their story aligned with your brand. I position you so people feel motivated… by their archetypal connection with you… so they share their story. We inspire people to add their narrative, to share with friends. Archetypal conversations energize people to create that story.

How do you connect with the inner magician, the hero, and the explorer in all of us? Is your core the sage, the jester or the lover that connects to the soul of your fans? My guess is your 43-year-old accountant… or someone like them… is waiting for you.