Joseph Campbell, the American scholar, once described The “Hero’s Journey” as a basic pattern of narrative found in many stories from around the world. The journey starts when the hero receives a call to enter a world of powers and events. The hero who accepts the call must face tasks and trials. If he is successful, he achieves great gifts.
Every brand partakes in a similar journey to find the brand purpose, whether the brand describes a person, product, or service. Unique features and benefits provide help along the way. But to withstand the endless obstacles that line every brand’s path, there’s a brand purpose that transcends any functional advantage. Hero’s are hero’s not just because of their actions but because their purpose is considered noble by common consent (love, peace, freedom, fun). Until a brand understands and respects the fact that it ultimately depends on long-term followers more than short-term buyers, it remains vulnerable to competitors—competitors who can readily marshal needed resource to displace a product advantage. The higher brand purpose paves the way for brands to form lasting emotional bonds, bonds that no competitor can overcome.
What Is Your Higher Brand Purpose?
We are humans first, consumers second. And as humans we are always searching for meaning. A strong brand purpose provides that meaning by providing their audiences with causes to emulate, beliefs to uphold, and values to support. Strong brands don’t just sell the church. They sell their religion, too. But defining a brand’s higher-level purpose can sometimes be difficult. For it to be authentic, it must be coaxed out of hiding.
Archetypes to the Rescue
Using brand archetypes can help address this challenge. The psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, used the concept of archetype in his theory of the human psyche. Although there are many different archetypes, here are the basic twelve that symbolize universal human motivations. Each is founded on specific beliefs and values. These can be used to symbolize brand motivations, as well.
12 Basic Archetypes
If your brand is Harley Davidson, you might say your archetype is The Rebel. Apple can be seen as the combination of the Imaginer and The Wizard. Nike is part Conqueror and part Emperor.
There are a number of ways to use archetypes for branding purposes. There are assessment tools available that can help. But barring the use of those, at the very least, using these archetypes can stimulate an enlightening discussion among those in charge of a brand’s marketing. And they work for personal brands, as well.