Which Archetype Drives Your Culture and Customers?

The Question
[Inspired by cookies!]
Which Archetype Drives Your Culture and Customers?

Every person and every organization expresses (and buys into) a central archetype.

In some cases it is very deliberate. Some leaders know how to leverage archetypes to shape their culture and brand. They tap their core archetype to tell and live out a compelling, authentic story. As a result, they attract employees and clients who buy into their story.

However, most people I run into have never heard about archetypes or know how use them as as tool to shape their culture, mission, values and customer experience.

They are missing a strategic shortcut to the hidden motivations of their employees and customers!

What are archetypes?
Archetypes are universally understood symbols, stories, characters or mental frameworks that carry meaning, associations and feelings.

12 Archetypes
There are 12 archetypes that have been found to be useful for brand and organizational development purposes. What makes them so useful is how they tap into and anchor a brand in a specific set of emotions and associations preexisting in the minds of all humans.

Heroes and Outlaws
Carol S. Pearson is a mentor and teacher I have had the pleasure to study with. She collaborated on the bible of applying archetypes to brand development titled, The Hero and The Outlaw.

The Slideshare presentation below does a good job at capturing the essence of 12 core archetypes that are outlined in the Hero and The Outlaw.

The 12 archetypes can be found within all organizations.
I find that most clients like to think of the archetypes as personalities living out a timeless story. Once you get a taste of these personalities and stories you will start to see them walking around the halls of your organization!

We are drawn more or less to different stories as a result of our upbringing, beliefs, values and desires.

Simply put, some stories move us more than others. We see ourselves as the lead character in some stories and supporting characters or unwelcome strangers in other stories. Stories trigger feelings and motivate action and purchase decisions.

I’m always on the lookout for brands built on archetypal personalities and stories.

For example, The Innocent archetypal story is beautifully expressed via the package of cookies I happened upon at a local gourmet market.

Strategic Fuel - Elsa's Story example

Clear signs of The Innocent story are the simple, clean font, white packaging and pictures of natural ingredients found in the cookies. The brand name of the cookies is Elsa’s Story which suggests they were homemade by a real person (even though it’s not really true).

On the side of the box they elaborate and continue to reinforce The Innocent story. When you read the side of the box you will either be moved by the story or not. Natural, organic foods often tap into the Innocent archetype and the desire for more natural, simple, untainted ways of living in the world. Does the Innocent story motivate you?

The Answer
So, which archetype drives your culture and customers? There are only 12 (and combinations of them).

The Challenge (for your team to investigate)

The strategic opportunity for leaders and marketers is selecting a core archetypal personality and story to shape everything inside and out.

Here is your homework:

1. Review the 12 archetypes Slideshare again and short list your top 3 options using your gut and your positioning statement for your brand (assuming you have developed one).
2. Identify which archetype(s) represents the values lived within your culture/team.
3. Identify the emotional desires or outcomes that motivate your customers to choose your organization over others.
4. Review your competitors websites to identify which archetypes they are expressing and which ones are open to be utilized.
5. Select your top archetype, find imagery that expresses the emotion at the heart of the archetype, that represents what success feels like for your customers.
6. Review your marketing copy to ensure that the core archetypal story is reflected in language and tone of voice.

If you want some help please feel free to contact me for more information.