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Understanding archetypes; shaping a brand with personas

We use archetypes to translate characteristics of a business into relatable and easily identifiable personas. Because people relate to other people, and when a business is personified, it is distilled it into an easily understood form. 


Jungian Archetypes have universally recognized patterns that we can see as different personas manifesting in the human psyche. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, introduced archetypes at the beginning of the 20th century.


There are twelve archetypes in total; 


Archetypes are shared psychological patterns, symbols, and instincts that all humans have; innate, repeated, universal patterns or templates of the human experience. Like the Trickster archetype that comes through in mischievous and playful characters in stories; the Hero archetype representing those who rise to a challenge embarks on a journey, and overcomes obstacles; or the wise old woman or man connecting to the Sage archetype who guides the hero with their knowledge, or the leader who restores balance in stories, channelling the good side of the Ruler archetype. These archetypes are found in myths, dreams, literature, and art across different cultures and periods to evidence their universal nature; they trigger near-unanimous emotions and ideas in people. While Jung’s theories are not commonly used for psychotherapy per se, they provide an excellent base for building brands and characters in stories. When it comes to storytelling for business, these archetypes are great tools. Archetypes based on Carl Jung’s theories are one of the primary tools used to articulate brands by Public Works.


Carl Jung theorized that the human mind inherits these archetypal patterns through what he coined as the ‘collective unconscious’. According to Jung, the (human) collective unconscious is populated by instincts and archetypes. It’s a treasure trove of symbols.


We use these archetypes to typify personalities for story characters or to help our clients construct a brand articulation framework (BAF) for their business or project.


 


To see how we used the dark side of archetypes to build an entire story series,

check out our shadow series

 

As an archetype-based persona, visual and written language can easily be identified and articulated with more accuracy and clarity. We think archetypes are one of the most efficient starting points to communicate a brand, brief creatives and build stories.


Utopian

  • Values: Peace, positivity, and happiness for everyone

  • Strength/Weakness: Dream of paradise even through the worst state of affairs. Naive, idealistic, and impractical. 

  • Driving desire: Exploring self/world

  • Way of doing things: Inextinguishable faith. Their charm is their innocence. Paradise is a state of mind. The utopian delivers hope.

  • Distinguishable traits: Goodness, faith, hopefulness.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Empathy, tranquillity, beauty, humour, wonder 

  • Character examples: Samwise Gamgee of Lord of the Rings, R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars, and Obelix from Asterix and Obelix.

  • Brand examples: Coca-cola, Dove, The Good Market 


Sage

  • Values: Knowledge, truth, understanding

  • Strength/Weakness: Offers clarity and wisdom, a voice of truth against ignorance and misinformation. Cold and arrogant cynics who consume knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

  • Driving desire: Exploring self/world

  • Way of doing things: The sage is driven by the motivation to find out the truth. Pursues truth and understanding. The sage delivers clarity.

  • Distinguishable traits: Intelligent, curious, informed, insightful.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Wonder, heroism, terror 

  • Character examples: Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, The Oracle in Matrix, and Professor Calculus in Adventures of TinTin. 

  • Brand examples: Google, TED, Public Works


Explorer

  • Values: Freedom, adventure, and authenticity

  • Strength/Weakness: Unbound, self-sustained, strong and true to self. In their shadow self. Is flakey, unable to commit or make decisions, and reckless. 

  • Driving desire: Exploring self/world

  • Way of doing things: They set out to discover the world with unstoppable passion. The explorer delivers inspiration for freedom.

  • Distinguishable traits: Active, adventurous, driving discovery.  

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Beauty, wonder, heroism, terror 

  • Character examples: Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, Sam Gardner in Atypical, Indiana Jones. 

  • Brand examples: GoPro, Patagonia, Roar


Rebel

  • Values: Liberation, risk-taking, and challenging the status quo

  • Strength/Weakness: At the frontlines of all historic movements. Troublemaker, provocateur, and rebel without a cause.

  • Driving desire: Being remembered

  • Way of doing things: Disruption or change of old systems to pave way for the new. The rebel delivers revolution. 

  • Distinguishable traits: Revolutionising, nonconformity and radical.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Humour, heroism, terror, fury, revulsion 

  • Character examples: Wolverine in X-Men, Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games

  • Brand examples: Supreme, Anonymous, Vans


Magician

  • Values: Wonder, transformation, and defying the standards

  • Strength/Weakness: Uses their catalytic abilities and transformational power to save the day even in the most impossible situations. Abuses this power and becomes manipulative. 

  • Driving desire: Being remembered

  • Way of doing things: Uncovering the secret mechanisms of the world in order to pull strings and make things happen. Surprising/mystifying with solutions that others can barely comprehend. The magician delivers what was thought to be impossible.

  • Distinguishable traits: Making the impossible happen, win-win solutions, being catalytic.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Wonder, heroism, terror 

  • Character examples: Yoda in Star Wars, Eleven from Stranger Things, Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series

  • Brand examples: Tesla, Polaroid, MAC cosmetics

To read more about this archetype click here.


Hero

  • Values: Mastery, courage, willpower

  • Strength/Weakness: Courage, motivation and facing fears despite being nervous or anxious. Overconfidence, arrogance. 

  • Driving desire: Being remembered

  • Way of doing things:  Courageously rise up to challenges and shoulder burdens that most would not dare to. The hero archetype delivers reliability.

  • Distinguishable traits: Determination, bravery, and always coming through

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Wonder, heroism, terror, fury 

  • Character examples: Casey Gardener in Atypical, TinTin from Adventures of TinTin, Bianca Barclay in Wednesday

  • Brand examples: Kāffi, FedEx, Nike


Lover

  • Values: Enjoyment, vitality, passion for life and experiences

  • Strength/Weakness: The lover archetype’s strength is its ability to devote, and fulfill,  experiencing life at the fullest. Its weakness is losing itself to the beloved and becoming obsessive.

  • Driving desire: Connecting with others

  • Way of doing things: Makes others feel appreciated and special, fostering unforgettable connections. The lover archetype delivers devotion. 

  • Distinguishable traits: Passion, intimacy, and enjoying/experiencing life in high definition. 

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Beauty, empathy, tranquillity 

  • Character examples: Morticia Addams in Wednesday, Pepé Le Pew in Looney Tunes, Matty Matheson the chef 

  • Brand examples: Rithihi, Häagen-Dazs, Victoria’s Secret


Humorist

  • Values: Joy, humour, living in the moment

  • Strength/Weakness:  In its wisdom, this archetype crosses boundaries and exposes the folly of human superiority, bringing us to understand the fragility of the status quo, and the absurdity of life. In its shadow, the humorist is irreverent and refuses to accept responsibility. 

  • Driving desire: Connecting with others

  • Way of doing things: Using humour to break down social constructs and laughter as a response to the absurdity of life. The humorist delivers entertainment.

  • Distinguishable traits: Play, fun, and joy 

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Humour, wonder, heroism, revulsion 

  • Character examples: Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, Rue in Euphoria, The Joker from Marvel Comics

  • Brand examples: Old Spice, ApiHappi, Fanta

To read more about this archetype click here.


Everyperson

  • Values: Earnestness, empathy, equality

  • Strength/Weakness:  The everyperson archetype is unifying and levelling, with a remarkable capacity for building empathy and connections. At its worst, the everyperson is a passive participant in groupthink, never questioning the herd.

  • Driving desire: Connecting with others

  • Way of doing things: Valuing community and being part of the group over carving out a singular identity, the everyperson archetype delivers belonging.

  • Distinguishable traits:  Always doing the right thing and finding common ground with others.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Empathy spectrum, tranquillity, beauty, humour 

  • Character examples: Gale Hawthorne from Hunger Games, Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones, Ned Flanders from the Simpsons

  • Brand examples: Ikea, eBay, Perera & Sons


Ruler

  • Values: Responsibility, influence, leadership

  • Strength/Weakness: The ruler archetype is powerful and influential, leading their circle towards order, safety and success. In its shadow, the ruler can be imposing, authoritarian and downright tyrannical.

  • Driving desire: Contributing to the world

  • Way of doing things: Gaining power, moderating and exercising control. The ruler archetype delivers esteem.

  • Distinguishable traits: Stepping up to take charge, influences order and success.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Heroic, terror, fury 

  • Character examples: Julius Caesar in Asterix & Obelix, Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

  • Brand examples: Mercedes-Benz, Lion beer, Rolex


Creator

  • Values: Creativity, inspiration, and ingenuity

  • Strength/Weakness: A person looking to influence the world through their creativity. In their weakness, the creator becomes a perfectionist, obsessing over unattainable heights and is never satisfied. 

  • Driving desire: Contributing to the world

  • Way of doing things: The defining superpower of the creator archetype is to make the world their muse, absorb it and reproduce it new, made more interesting and beautiful inside their mind. The creator delivers freshness and ingenuity.

  • Distinguishable traits: Innovation, imagination, and creative expression

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Wonder, heroism

  • Character examples: Tony Stark from Iron Man, Kevin Macallister from Home Alone, Don Draper from Mad Men

  • Brand examples: Public Works, Youtube, AOD


Caregiver

  • Values: Kindness, care, safeguarding

  • Strength/Weakness: The caregiver brings an incredible affinity and capacity for helping, protecting, nurturing and caring for others. In their shadow, the caregiver archetype is smothering and controlling.

  • Driving desire: Contributing to the world

  • Way of doing things:  The caregiver archetype believes in nurturing and protecting what matters. This archetype delivers safety, care.

  • Distinguishable traits: service, compassion, and protection.

  • Popularly associated rasa(s): Empathy, tranquillity 

  • Character examples: Elsa Gardener in Atypical, Primrose Everdeen in Hunger Games, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars

  • Brand examples: Unicef, HelpAge charity, Volvo

To read more about this archetype click here.


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