Excerpt: Archetypes & Brand Development Strategies

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Margaret Hartwell (@MPHpov on Twitter) is an expert on brand development strategies. Margaret Hartwell is a strategy consultant, coach, educator and writer. Her 20 years of experience chronicle a career of effective brand and business solutions at the intersection of creativity and business. Her work has spanned analysis and research, organizational development, marketing, social media and entrepreneurship in multiple sectors from automotive, telecommunications, entertainment and consumer packaged goods, and travel to education, wellness, food, the arts, and environmental and social advocacy.

She and Joshua C. Chen wrote a stunning book, Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategist, which makes the familiar concept of “brand archetypes” accessible, and easy to use.

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Read an excerpt below:

Brand Development Strategies: Setting the Stage

an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategist

An old Sufi folktale tells of a renowned trickster who for years stymied a tenacious border inspector as he frequently crossed into Persia on his donkey. In spite of numerous searches, the trickster was never found to be carrying anything but straw. The fruitless inspections went on for years. When finally the inspector retired, his mind still ruminated on this trickster, who he believed had evaded him. One day the inspector spotted the trickster sitting idly in the marketplace. He approached him and pleaded, “Won’t you please tell me what you’ve been smuggling? I’ll never rest in peace until I know.” The trickster, being a kind man, did not wish the inspector to spend the rest of his days in torment and so replied, “I was smuggling donkeys.”

As creative strategists, we, the authors, sought the overlooked “donkeys” that could answer some of our most essential questions: What tools can we use to facilitate greater authenticity and meaning in our brand work? How can we encourage greater cultural uptake for a brand, both internally and externally? What’s the most basic and therefore universal way to align and integrate the myriad aspects of a brand? How do we move the conversation from the cognitive to the intuitive? It was from this place of questioning and exploring that we started applying the concepts of archetypes to the creative strategy work we do. Like the donkeys in the folktale, archetypes—the signs, symbols and themes of our lives—were right under our noses, hidden in plain sight.

Our exploration led to this important discovery:

IN AN AGE IN WHICH MANY PEOPLE CRAVE A DEEPER SENSE OF CONNECTION TO THEIR WORK AND WANT BUSINESS TO DEMONSTRATE GREATER INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY, THE CREATIVE AND MINDFUL ATTENTION TO ARCHETYPES CAN FACILITATE A MORE AUTHENTIC, HOLISTIC AND HUMAN WAY OF BEING IN BUSINESS.

We are not Jungian experts but creative generalists with an appreciation of the rich store of useful information housed within the archetypal system. As witnesses and observers of society and culture, we seek multiple ways of understanding people and how they make choices. We subscribe to the practice of interdisciplinary cross-pollination. Our methods have shown the validity and applicability of Archetypes in Branding. Similar findings have been documented by advertising giant Young & Rubicam. Their research exploring the connection between economic performance and archetypes shows that “brands associated with archetypal identities positively and profoundly influence the real asset valuation of their companies.”

WHAT ARE ARCHETYPES AND HOW CAN THEY HELP?

Archetypes embody the universal stories and journeys that all human beings share: the story of the Alchemist within the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin, the Hero’s journey in Shakespeare’s Henry V, the story of the Lovers in Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine, the archetypal depiction of the Child in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince and the stor[ies] of the Ruler King Arthur…, to name but a few.

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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 can mirror our deepest fears and reveal our noblest intentions. They are universally shared symbols that connect the conscious mind with the subconscious meanings, concepts, moods and desires that Joseph Campbell says are “inherently expressive … of common human needs, instincts, and potentials.” Of particular interest to our work is the unlimited potential that archetypes offer for expanding how we see, understand and affect our relationships—the foundation on which business, and by extension, branding, is built.ruler

Traditionally, marketing has sought to understand users, and subsequently build relationships with them, by using various classifications and categories called demographics. Given the complexity of our information network, this has now evolved to psychographics, ethnographics and such things, but these classifications are primarily understood in our left brain, the cognitive realm. As a result of this cognitive orientation, the intuitive and instinctual can be lost. The risk of a primarily cognitive approach to branding and marketing is the undermining of the creative spark—and, possibly by extension, the business and brand’s humanity.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 11.55.27 AMIn his popular work A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink claims that “how cerebral hemispheres operate does yield a powerful metaphor for how individuals and organizations navigate.” Some have greater comfort with logical, sequential reasoning, while others are more comfortable with holistic, intuitive and nonlinear reasoning. In Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Culture, Chris McManus succinctly summarizes the strengths of each hemisphere: “The left hemisphere knows how to handle logic and the right hemisphere knows about the world.”

While archetypes don’t directly address the hemispherical divide, applying archetypes to the exploration of people and relationships allows increased access to our right brains, the creative and intuitive realm.


“THE INTUITIVE MIND IS A SACRED GIFT AND THE RATIONAL MIND IS A FAITHFUL SERVANT. WE HAVE CREATED A SOCIETY THAT HONORS THE SERVANT AND HAS FORGOTTEN THE GIFT.” – Albert Einstein


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