We can be heroes

Brand archetypes and how they help us find our voice

An article by Oliver Hall 03-07-2018

We could be heroes

What if, there was a simple tool which when used, equipped brand communications to convey a consistent and compelling character, informed its audience of the relationship it aimed to foster, and not only that, was as intuitive as predicting the plot line to a fairy tale.

There are many brand models and platforms which aim to guide, define and sometimes strongarm creative expression, be it verbal, visual or behavioural.

But all too often, even when seemingly every angle is covered: essence, purpose, promise, principles, proposition, position, values, message, vision, mission… I could go on… we’re left wanting. Rather than more words, more facets, considerations and adjectives, we need fewer. So much of what we talk about as designers is to simplify, reducing things down to what’s actually required in order to fulfill a need with the most elegant solution.

So why, when it comes to defining a brand, do we find ourselves tied up in knots, trying to define a brand personality? The answer, I believe is because personalities are extremely hard to pin down; a few well chosen words can’t define us as people, neither can we expect that to work when it comes to defining a brand.

So what’s the answer? How can we produce clear guidance of how a brand personality should be expressed and then demonstrate correct use across a multitude of scenarios, without describing it in detail?

I believe the answer is to rely on a simple and memorable shorthand for expressing personalities, I believe the answer is archetypes.

What is an Archetype?

Simply put, archetypes are universal and consistent characters or circumstances recognised in literature, myth and thought: the hero / sage / caregiver / sovereign.

How will identifying an organisational archetype help me?

It helps in creating a distinctive voice

By defining the archetype, or archetypes* of your organisation, you will find that your communication style, your tone, even the content you create is consistent in its voice, message and purpose.

*brands will often have multiple archetypes which help to build a complex character

It identifies the role you play in the engagement (or narrative) between you and your audiences

Determining your archetype also helps to identify your role in your relationships and conversations, for example, a joker may disrupt and undermine authority, whereas a sovereign’s role will be to maintain order, structure and law.

It helps in defining or aligning with your organisational purpose

Archetypes help you to articulate your values and aspirations, so rather than being defined by factual evidence led personas, they resonate with your identity and become your character benchmark. They can also be used as a litmus test for products, services and initiatives (e.g. would a hero respond to this opportunity in this way?).

In conclusion. a clearly defined archetype is a simple and memorable way to shape the expression of your brand communications. Just like you, your brand should be expressing a distinctive and consistent character. This character will determine how your audience connect with you and crucially whether or not they want to develop a relationship with you.

If you find your organisation suffers from something of an identity crisis, or lacks an engaging voice: be the ‘hero’.

Come and talk to us about how we can empower you with a workshop to identify your organisational archetype.



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