The Archetype Advantage

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”  — Carl Jung

My chiropractor dawns a lab coat with her name inscribed when she works in the office. She says it ruins the great outfits she wears, but it serves a greater purpose. It transforms her into a focused element of herself. The minute she slips on the lab coat, she is transformed into the professional healer; the highly experienced, intuitive, and caring doctor. It’s an archetype that gives her power.

Her lab coat is the symbol of her archetype. We all have them.

Famed psychologist Carl Jung believed that humans use symbolism to more easily understand complex concepts. We see this in our use of logo identities to symbolize a company, we see it in street signs, maps, digital screens, and iconography of all sorts.

Jung noted that “There are forms or images of a collective nature which occur practically all over the earth as constituents of myths and at the same time, as individual products of unconscious.”

As part of my work in brand evolution programs, I run a workshop where I guide teams to identifying their organizational archetype, based on Jung’s work.

Archetype means original pattern in ancient Greek. Jung used the concept of archetype in his model of the human psyche. He identified, through years of global research, 12 universal, mythic character archetypes inhabit our collective unconscious.

The Home Depot is the Everyman, Crayola is the Creator, and Harley-Davidson is the Rebel. Often, but not always, teams I work with hybridize archetypes to create their own crafted archetype.

Here’s a few: The Innovative Champion, The Wise Caregiver, The Collaborative Adventurer, The Supporting Sage, and so on.

So, why do brand archetypes matter? And how do they help you and your team?

As a business leader, you need your team all on the same page, headed in the same direction. Abstract concepts don’t unify belief or behavior. Jim Collins expressed this clearly in Good To Great: Get the right people in the right seats on the bus and headed in the same direction.

You may be deceiving yourself if you believe that the mission statement that hangs in the conference room or the lobby entry is doing the trick.

Folks like you care deeply about your beliefs and work to see alignment in your team. By identifying your brand’s archetype, everyone on the team gets to dawn the same uniform when they show up at work. By embodying the same archetype, there’s a consistent stance when dealing with your most pressing and mission-critical challenges: innovation, customer service, employee engagement, etc.

Ultimately, brands that go through a meaningful brand evolution put into action their unique and deeply held beliefs, including a galvanized archetype. Archetypes anchor the abstracts of beliefs and turn them into a stance that is ownable by all of the unique personalities, roles, and skills on your team. They then utilize the archetype to create stronger customer service, to amplify innovation, to stimulate their purpose and unify the stance of the team.

An accountant can be a hero, a customer service person can be an innovator, a maintenance person can be a sage.

Clearly understood and stimulated archetypes make teams sturdier in areas you need strengthening, and unified across the board. Once activated they put the spotlight on the ways we want your team to show up as their unique and best self, routed through your brand archetype.

Here are some actionable benefits of brand archetypes:

  • Tethers deeper alignment between the brand and culture.
  • Fosters greater brand-culture belonging.
  • Attract and retain the people, both customers, and employees
  • Helps to guide brand culture strategy—and can inform core values.
  • Implants unique brand identity that’s individually actionable by all team members, in all situations.

Side note: I was asked by a dear and close colleague what my archetype was. Here’s my humble response: I’m a fusion of the sage, the artist and the adventurer. This makes me a professional “noticer” with intensity for high-standards, a drive for results and creative outcomes that breaks new ground. At least, this is what people say about me.

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