One of the ways we at Rooster Punk go about bringing Humanizing to life, is by using a brand personality archetype methodology, founded on the innovative work of Carl Jung. He essentially devised four areas of personality, and within each, three sub-areas giving a total of twelve archetypes.
While they are personality based, these really spring from stories and narratives – you can recognise the characters from the mythology and storytelling that defines our societies and selves.
Here’s the wheel, and we’ll explain a bit more about it, and why it’s useful below.
The Twelve Jungian Archetypes
Archetypes are increasingly being used in smart B2B marketing. Why? Well, the benefits include differentiation, alignment, and consistency in messages – ensuring the stories that the business tells comes from a distinctive, and consistent personality (inconsistency is one of the quickest way to lose trust). They’re really important in sectors where the product is complex and significant (i.e. B2B) – so buyers have to rely on trust, which springs from a sense of alignment with the values and personality of the entity that they’re buying from. They want to buy into you, as much as buy from you. Since archetypes are relatively new, not everyone’s using them, which makes them valuable and gives the early-adopting organization a leg-up on its competitors.
Right now, the trend for high-performing marketing organizations is investment in martech (marketing automation, intent targeting etc.), but this is most effective when it uses tools such as Archetypes in order to shape and anchor the complex omnichannel stories a brand is telling to an identifiable brand stance. Archetypes are quite different from the personas that are developed for use in IA and buyer journey flows because personas typically describe different buyer personalities and the audience segments to which you’re telling your stories. One persona might describe a data security director and the typical worldview that individual might have – which would be very different from another persona, like a CFO. In contrast, brand archetypes are a tool – a choice you make – to drive your marketing and your stories in ways that resonate with those personas.
So that’s the ‘Why’ – but here’s a bit more on the ‘what are Jungian Archetypes?’
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. Jung’s archetypes are patterns of thought and associated behaviours that exist in every human being. Deep within the collective unconscious, symbolism triggers the association of the primordial thought and behaviour pattern and that in turn affects a conscious behaviour.
Put more simply, every archetype represents fundamental human narratives, and when you associate your brand with an archetype, you’re tapping into deep emotions that signal what you stand for. This doesn’t mean that you will only appeal to customers who themselves are driven by that narrative, but that they will more readily understand you and your motivators. Symbolism is a shortcut to understanding – it uses the heuristics we all rely on to efficiently and effectively impart meaning. For example – we all know the narrative of the “Sage” in culture, from Gandalf to Buddha, and so by tapping into collective narratives we borrow huge amounts of implicit meaning that themselves build the sense of understanding motivations that builds trust.
This might all sound quite theoretical, but defining your archetype gives you a great place to start your marketing strategy. It will prompt questions like: how would The Creator engage with our ideal customer or our ideal employee candidate? It helps your sales team stay on-brand with their communications, both in person and online. Assessing your competition is another important step. Who are your competitors and what are their possible archetypes? Is your competitive landscape already full of Sage or Hero archetypes?
Archetypes can help define internal culture. Never forget that your first (and in some ways most important) audience is your internal team. If they don’t buy into the Archetype, then it will fail to be effective, as the consistent narrative tone it offers is drowned out by a cacophony of conflicting individual ones. This is why the Archetype needs to be developed through engaging the team, using tools like our archetype quiz and guided workshops, in parallel with explaining the point and value of the brand archetypes, and once the Archetype is defined, what that means. It shouldn’t be seen as a straight-jacket, but as a guide to tone when speaking for the company, in the same way that defining shared company values does not mean that individuals can’t hold a set of their own personal values.
A few of other points relating to questions that often come up as we go through the exercises:
- Can a brand have more than one Archetype? We often see that brands have a primary and secondary archetype. A brand might primarily a Sage for instance, but also has a strong culture of irreverence (more Jester). It is fine to acknowledge this, and the combination can make the Archetype more distinct and authentic.
- Can the archetype change over time? Absolutely – as an organisation grows, its culture and motivations can shift significantly. For instance an innovative fintech could start out as an ‘Explorer’ as it gears to break new ground, but as it matures and is seen as more of the expert in a field that is now better understood, it can become more driven by Sage-like characteristics to share this hard-won wisdom.
- Are the Archetypes on opposite sides, opposite personalities? This is how Jung intended them, however we can see a single brand having primary and secondary Archetypes that are diametrically opposed.
- Must our Archetype be different from our competition? Not always – the Archetype can help differentiate but that’s not its sole job. Two ‘Heroes’ can co-exist in a sector and still be effectively differentiated by their brand narratives. Archetypes and storytelling are closely related and must have alignment but they don’t fully define one another!