Guest post from Prasad Narasimhan, our Managing Partner for Asia, based in Bangalore, India.
In London recently, I made my customary pilgrimage to Hamleys, the ‘Finest Toy Shop in the World’. Even as I pretend to myself (each time) that I go there to shop for my kids, I know that it is really all about indulging to the kid in me. There is something special about the place, a magical cocktail-world of Willy Wonka, Peter Pan & Huckleberry Finn.
No other toyshop makes me feel this way. Of course they all sell toys. But Hamleys sells so much more – magic, adventure & the opportunity to be a child all over again. Vibrant & unique, it evokes very distinctive forms & images in the mind, making thousands like me visit it again & again.
It is these patterns of forms & images that we all recognize that Jung labeled ‘Archetypes’. He believed that archetypes spring from a universal shared unconscious, & further asserted that these archetypes have the same meaning for people around the world.
Jung postulated 12 basic archetypes & it is believed that brands, like people, evoke one of these in our heads based on their actions. In our experience however, brands often come through not as one, but as combination of 2-3 key archetypes.
Hamleys for me is clearly a Magician-Explorer-Creator, a set of associations & images that makes it distinctive from any of its competitors.
While the knowledge of archetypes is interesting to us as marketers, what is much more interesting & useful is to know that we can use this knowledge to create compelling identities for our brands.
In today’s hypercompetitive markets where brands need to be really distinctive to even get noticed, archetypes offer a wonderful tool to imbue our brands with the X-factor they need to lead; brands with personalities that our consumers would ‘love to meet’.
At the brandgym, we often use archetypes as a projective thinking & creation tool. Whether we are creating new brands or refreshing old ones, we use archetypes to design imaginative brand actions, which when implemented over time, build brand myths.
How it works in practice
A typical session flow will be as follows:
- We introduce the concept of Archetypes in simple terms
- We then bring to life each archetype in an inspiring way, with brand examples
- As a team, we pick up the ones that seem to fit the evolving Vision spaces
- We finally apply to the brand to create ideas for action, benefits, values & personality
- As a Nurturer. Handhold investors
with involvement & empathy. Super-fast clearances. Mitigate risk with steps
including IP protection, good labour policies etc. Nurture businesses through creating
modern infrastructure, timely service delivery, flexibility, attractive tax
holidays, personalized B2B relationships & sensitivity in attitude.
- As an Explorer: Pioneer all hi-tech
industries such as aerospace & nanotechnology. Promote tech tourism & eco-sensitive
manufacturing. Leverage local/rural populations. Explore new investor markets
in Far East/ East Asia. Connect with Indian Diaspora globally. Create tailor-made
investment packages etc.
- As an Outlaw: Walk the talk. Create a sharp sectoral approach to business. Set up time guarantees & trackers for investors. Invest in rural markets. Support less advantaged groups. Promote alternate energy. Free education & food for all employees etc.
The Brand Personality traits that emerged (Boldly Imaginative, Efficient but not Stressed, Makes Friends Easily, Takes Care of Friends) were seen as refreshingly different from the bureaucratic stereotype of a state government, and the resulting Brand Vision is in the process of implementation.
In the ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, the author suggests that “bones & flesh are the garments worn by the personality, not the other way around”. I believe that brands are pretty much like that - the more distinctively we can imagine the brand personality and surround it with the right ‘bones & flesh’, the more we can set them free for growth. And archetypes are one great way to do that.