Identify Your Archetype for Clear Communication

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By Gregg Kerttula for our 15 Ways to Build Your B2B Brand in 2015 blog series

I think the CSI theme song performed by one of the most influential rock bands, The Who, poses the question best:

“Who are you? I really wanna know…
Tell me, who are you? ‘Cause I really wanna know!”

Rockin’ tune… daunting proposition, especially when aimed directly at your brand.

Who is your brand? What characteristics does it embody? How does it engage with your audience? How does it wish to be perceived and received? Marty Neumeier, Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, says it well; “A brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” With this in mind, you’d best get your story straight.

Are you a Rebel or a Ruler? A Creator or a Caregiver? A Hero or Sage? Clear patterns can typically be seen and many of the brands that have become common place in our lives embody the qualities of an archetype creatively and intuitively in order to resolve brand inconsistencies and enhance trust with their audience.

By definition, an archetype is a symbol, theme, setting, or character-type that recurs in different times and places in myth, literature, folklore, dreams, and rituals so frequently or prominently as to suggest that it embodies some essential element of ‘universal’ human experience (Oxford Dictionary).

By becoming aware of which archetype your brand can master, you will shape the definition of your brand promise, personality and voice and live out its identity in all of your communications. Once your brand archetype has been defined both internally and externally, it becomes easier to communicate clearly from the selected platform.

Archetypes are familiar; they embody the common stories and journeys that we all share. Archetypes also represent how we manifest the roles we play within those universal stories, the lessons we learn and the paths we choose to walk. They evoke our imaginations, our dreams and our aspirations. They are universally shared symbols defined by personalities not abstract principles that connect the conscious mind with subconscious meanings, concepts moods and desires that Joseph Campbell says are “inherently expressive…of human needs, instincts and potentials.”

Archetypes offer unlimited potential for expanding how we see and understand, and affect our relationships – the foundation on which business, and by extension, branding, is built.