Brand Storytelling

Is Your Brand a Hero, Lover, or Sage?

Post by: Sarah Walsh / 11.28.2017

Imagine this. It’s Valentine’s Day and you need to get a gift for your S.O. You opt for a gift that’s tried-and-true: chocolates. Do you conveniently run into the CVS next door or do you drive the extra few miles to the mall for Godiva truffles?

Surely, it depends on many factors (budget and time for starters), but I’d argue most of you will choose Godiva. Here’s why: it’s a lover brand. Its silky smooth ribbons, rich colors, and eye-catching gold accents signal something more to your valentine – quality and exclusivity. There’s meaning baked into Godiva, and it’s one of many archetypes found in all majorly successful brands.

What are archetypes?
Archetypes are universal forms or images occurring throughout history and literature that are hardwired into our psyches. It’s the basis for Carl Jung’s psychological theories, identifying the relationship between symbols and consciousness. Jung identified 12 distinct, repeating themes throughout culture. These themes range from the hero and the jester to the outlaw and the ruler. And believe it or not, they’re all related to modern marketing.

A new shift in marketing
In 1939, a Viennese psychologist called Dr. Ernest Dichter (and low-key marketer) applied Jung’s archetypes to sell products. His work uncovered the benefits of connecting underlying product associations to our subconscious thoughts. Gone were the days of listing product features and benefits. The real money was made by appealing to society’s hidden wants and desires.

Dichter moved to New York to cash in with brands like Exxon, General Mills and Proctor and Gamble. His creative process combined psychology and research; using focus groups and individual interviews to uncover consumers’ hidden purchase motivations between the lines of conversation.

Soap was no longer just soap. Ivory was for the practical, everyday person; Camay was for the sensual lover. Brands started utilizing colors, imagery, and messaging that convey feelings instead of benefits. And consumers started buying based on the image they wanted others to see in themselves.

Archetypes in real life
When a young woman buys a new Glossier lip gloss, she isn’t buying a color to go on her lips. She’s buying a feeling: a feeling of who she is, of how her life is and what is most important to her. She’s the effortlessly cool girl with a pulse on beauty brands. And that’s exactly who she wants to be.

Key Takeaways:

  • Archetypes are recognizable characters or themes repeated throughout culture and literature.
  • Using an archetype as a product personality will help consumers understand and purchase that product more easily.
  • People buy products with personalities because they fulfill the persona that they wish to promote to the world.

 

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