Why Personality is Everything in Business. Part 1 of my Brand Archetypes Series
Welcome to Part 1 in a series where I’ll be sharing how you can use brand archetypes for developing a likeable brand personality and distinctive tone of voice.
Brand personality is so often the difference between being liked or loved, ordinary or iconic.
If you’re a design agency, for example, your clients just expect you to have talented people and an impressive portfolio. So when it comes to choosing to work with you over someone else, it’s unlikely to be because of your work but because of how you do things and even more importantly, who you are.
It’s the same for any business.
This is why people choose to use MailChimp over Constant Contact, to fly Virgin over British Airways and to support Macmillan Cancer Support over Marie Curie. It’s also why Innocent Drinks, Lush Cosmetics and Huit Denim have won loyal evangelists.
So how do you go about creating a winning brand personality?
The best way is to think of your business is as if it were a person. However an all too common problem with this approach, as you’ve likely run into if you’ve created customer personas or avatars, is that it can feel a little two-dimensional. Personalities are complex and not easily pinned down in words.
So rather than invent a personality, I’ve found that what works best is to tap into proven personality types that appear throughout history and popular culture; brand archetypes.
What are Archetypes?
Archetypes are universal characters that have existed for thousands of years, tracing back to Ancient Greece.
There are literally dozens of archetypes. The best known and most loved is The Hero; that ordinary girl or boy who overcomes extraordinary obstacles to better the world. From David’s defeat of Goliath in the Bible to Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games, The Hero has appeared in stories, movies and folk-tales since time immemorial.
The Magician is also instinctively familiar. Think of Merlin or Willy Wonka, that mysterious persona who can conjure up something from nothing; transforming ideas into reality, almost magically. If you’re a creative, your clients probably consider you something of a Magician. That’s why they ask you to, ‘work your magic.’
OK. So how do Archetypes work in branding?
As long as you’re not overly prescriptive, understanding which archetype your brand represents is invaluable for developing a brand personality. It will give you clarity on the role you want your brand to play in people’s lives and the story you want to tell about who you are and what you stand for.
Archetypes work because they help to create a genuine brand personality that people relate to easily. I find that they save a lot of time and money because they give you a short-cut to articulating ephemeral characteristics that are hard to pinpoint in other ways.
While I have loved dipping in and out of Archetype research for the past few years, I have become increasingly frustrated by the fact that while almost everyone can describe which brands represent which archetypes (Nike is The Hero and Wikipedia is The Sage and so on) very few strategists explain HOW to practically apply or evoke your archetype in your branding. This is something I’ve developed with and for my clients, with great results.
So over the course of this series I will be introducing you to the core 12 archetypes, sharing brand case studies and showing you how to use them to develop a likeable brand personality and a distinctive tone of voice.