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The Hero Within Your Brand

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If you shape your digital customer experience today without paying attention to your brand meaning and archetype, then you are comparable to an ancient navigator trying to find his way on the seas during a starless night.

Archetypes can give your marketing strategy a compass, or a deeper meaning. Finding meaning and shaping your digital interactions with customers in a coherent way implies more than just borrowing an image; it means actually becoming completely consistent with the archetypal image that you believe your company represents.

Not only will your company create more effective customer experiences and customer journeys using archetype-based branding methods, but you will also gain a better understanding of your products and target customers.

Triumphing over adversity and evil: John Kennedy, John Wayne, all superheroes are heroes. Brands include Nike, Tah Heuer, the Olympics, the Red Cross. Wearing Nikes, in example, is aspirational: customers wear them not necessarily because they have the qualities of heroism, but because they want to have those qualities.

This identity might be right for your brand if you offer an invention or innovation that will have a major impact on the world. Your company might fit this archetype if your product helps people reach their upper limit, if you are addressing a major social problem and if your customer base identifies itself as moral and good.

Images associated with the hero archetype includes natural terrain requiring skill and agility; machines and offices where things are getting done; horses, cars, planes, people, or anything moving fast; and anything powerful, hence strong colors and definitive lines and shapes.

Discover also:

  • The Innocent: Life does not have to be hard, this myth promises.
  • The Explorer: Don’t fence me in.
  • The Sage: Sharing wisdom with you.
  • The Hero: Triumphing over adversity and evil.
  • The Outlaw: Rules were meant to be broken.
  • The Magician: The shaman at the forefront of great scientific changes.
  • The Regular Guy/Girl: The virtues of being ordinary.
  • The Lover: Intimacy and elegance.
  • The Jester: To live in the moment with full enjoyment, having fun, and stop worrying about consequences.
  • The Caregiver: The altruist, moved by compassion, generosity and a desire to help others.
  • The Creator: Helping you be you (only better).
  • The Ruler: Queens, kings, CEO’s, presidents, or anyone with power represents the ruler.
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The Sage Digital Customer Experience Archetype Shares Wisdom with You

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The sage’s central wisdom is an individual way of finding paradise.

The sage wants to be free to think and believes in mankind’s capacity to grow.

Sages include Socrates, Confucius and Oprah Winfrey. The sage also plays a part in all mystery stories. The sage may lack charisma and social graces but is associated with clear thinking. Sage brands include Vice President Al Gore, Harvard and Stanford Universities.

The sage archetype might provide an appropriate identity for your brand if you offer clients expertise or information, encourage them to think and support the quality of your product with hard data.

The sage:

  • Tells you that happiness is the result of education.
  • Helps you gain the consciousness to use your freedom and prosperity to enhance your life.
  • Looks for products that are adjuncts to learning or wisdom.
  • Likes to have all the relevant information needed to make informed decisions.

The Sage archetype provides a suitable identity for your brand and associated digital customer experience if:

  • It provides expertise or information to your customers.
  • It encourages customers or clients to think.
  • Your brand or product is based on a new scientific breakthrough or esoteric knowledge.
  • The quality of the brand is supported by science.
  • You are differentiating the product from others whose quality or performance is questionable by data.

Discover also:

  • The Innocent: Life does not have to be hard, this myth promises.
  • The Explorer: Don’t fence me in.
  • The Sage: Sharing wisdom with you.
  • The Hero: Triumphing over adversity and evil.
  • The Outlaw: Rules were meant to be broken.
  • The Magician: The shaman at the forefront of great scientific changes.
  • The Regular Guy/Girl: The virtues of being ordinary.
  • The Lover: Intimacy and elegance.
  • The Jester: To live in the moment with full enjoyment, having fun, and stop worrying about consequences.
  • The Caregiver: The altruist, moved by compassion, generosity and a desire to help others.
  • The Creator: Helping you be you (only better).
  • The Ruler: Queens, kings, CEO’s, presidents, or anyone with power represents the ruler.
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How Archetypes Changed How We Think About Digital Customer Experience

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As a marketer, you have to deal with increasing and global competition. Even if you succeed in creating an advantage for your customers, say an outstanding digital customer experience, a competitor can quickly copy it.

Today, companies are bought out other companies not for what they sold, but for the brands they had established. The brands, with their deeper iconic meetings, were valuable because of the intangible meanings they offered. And the management of this meaning, like many sound ideas, borrows from very ancient and eternal ones.
An archetype can be defined as a model that other things can be patterned on. The perfect example of a type or group. In marketing, you can think of it as a brand “typecast” or “personality type.”

The concept of archetypes was borrowed by Jung from classic sources. In Sanskrit, they were called "subjectively known forms". Carl Jung was the first to call them “archetypes.” “Archetypal psychology helps us understand the intrinsic meaning of product categories and consequently helps marketers create enduring brand identities that establish market dominance, evoke and deliver meaning to customers, and inspire customer loyalty -- all, potentially, in socially responsible ways.” (Carol Pearson and Margaret Mark, The Hero and the Outlaw).

Archetypal psychology helps you understand the intrinsic meaning of product categories and consequently helps you as a marketer create enduring brand identities that start conversations, evoke and deliver meaning to customers, and inspire customer loyalty.

The meaning your brand holds is a primal assets that must be managed as carefully as financial investments, delivering holistic and multi-sensory experiences ranging from view, touch interaction, and sound.

The best and most enduring brands are all archetypal, created to fulfill and embody fundamental human needs, according to neuromarketing and motivation theories:

  • The Innocent: Life does not have to be hard, this myth promises. The image of innocence conveys the message that you are free to be yourself and to live out your dreams right now.
  • The Explorer: Don’t fence me in. The explorer seeks a better world. When the Explorer is active in customers, their call is to explore the world and, in the process, to find themselves, so that they know who they are. How did Starbucks convince people to pay over two dollars for coffee? Simple: the Explorer, artfully expressed in every detail: the product, the packaging, the shops, the logo, the name, and the experience of placing an order.
  • The Sage: Sharing wisdom with you. The sage’s central wisdom is an individual way of finding paradise. The sage wants to be free to think and believes in mankind’s capacity to grow.
  • The Hero: Triumphing over adversity and evil. John Kennedy, John Wayne, John Glenn and, of course, all superheroes are heroes.
  • The Outlaw: Rules were meant to be broken. This archetype has the attraction of forbidden fruit (yes, think about Apple).
  • The Magician: How to get things done. The magician believes in understanding the rules and using them to accomplish specific goals. The magician has traditionally been the shaman and is at the forefront of great scientific changes.
  • The Regular Guy/Girl: The virtues of being ordinary. The regular guy symbolizes situation comedies, country and other easy listening music.
  • The Lover: Intimacy and elegance. The Lover governs all forms of human love. The Lover is common in the cosmetics, jewelry, fashion, and travel industries.
  • The Jester: his motto: to live in the moment with full enjoyment; the Jester archetype wants us all to lighten up, have fun, and stop worrying about consequences.
  • The Caregiver: Doing well by doing good. The caregiver is an altruist, moved by compassion, generosity and a desire to help others.
  • The Creator: Helping you be you (only better). The creator represents the artist, the writer, the entrepreneur and the innovator. Mozart and Picasso are symbols of the creator myth.
  • The Ruler: Who’s in charge here? The ruler represents queens, kings, CEO’s, presidents or even capable career mothers. Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, or anyone with power can be considered the ruler.

Myths and archetypes found all around the world are basically expressions of our inner human drama: we can understand them as different expressions of an eternal impulse to find our meaning in the mystery of creation. We “recognize” them because our brains have been programmed to do so.

And if you have only a few seconds to get your message across a customer-facing app or a responsive web site, you can do so more effectively if your message taps into the stories we all know already.

Shaping your digital customer experience without a system for managing the meaning of your brand is analogous to ancient navigators trying to find port in treacherous seas on a starless night. What all brands need today, be they a product, or a company, or yourself, is a reliable compass.

Whatever archetype you choose, or are chosen by, use these pages as your GPS and drive all your efforts to support that message consistently, as you will be trusted to the degree that everything you do is consistent.

Further insights for you on How To Connect With Your Digital Customers by Mapping Your Digital Customer Journey, Mobile First in our 7 steps digital customer experience checklist.

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The Innocent Brand Archetype: Seeking Fulfillment in the Here and Now

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Understanding brand archetypes is a powerful tool for helping you go beneath the surface and meet invisible and emerging needs.

According to the first archetype that we investigate, the Innocent, life does not have to be hard. The image of innocence conveys the message that you are free to be yourself and to live out your dreams right now.

Movie stars like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks and Kate Winslet are also brands of the innocent, with movies that started from Forrest Gump, moved to Titanic approaching end of millenium, to then evolve into a more complex representation with American Beauty.

Innocent products include McDonald’s, Ivory, Mattel and Disney. Many brands appeal to the innocent archetype by promising salvation from an imperfect world.

This archetype is a good identity for brands that provide simple answers, have low to moderate prices and are produced by a company with arrow-straight values.

The innocent seeks fulfillment in the here and now, looks for products that provide the experience of peace and goodness right now, like to find a brand they can trust and stick to it, believing that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Applies to products that make life simple, such as a user-friendly smartphone.

The Innocent archetype provides a good framework for brands and associated digital customer experiences that:

  • Provide a relatively simple answer to an identifiable problem.
  • Are associated with goodness, morality, simplicity, nostalgia, or childhood.
  • Have functions associated with cleanliness, health, or virtue — and that are infinitely replicable.
  • Are priced moderate to low.
  • Are produced by a company with straight-arrow core values.
  • Desire to differentiate from a product with a tarnished image.

Discover also:

  • The Innocent: Life does not have to be hard, this myth promises.
  • The Explorer: Don’t fence me in.
  • The Sage: Sharing wisdom with you.
  • The Hero: Triumphing over adversity and evil.
  • The Outlaw: Rules were meant to be broken.
  • The Magician: The shaman at the forefront of great scientific changes.
  • The Regular Guy/Girl: The virtues of being ordinary.
  • The Lover: Intimacy and elegance.
  • The Jester: To live in the moment with full enjoyment, having fun, and stop worrying about consequences.
  • The Caregiver: The altruist, moved by compassion, generosity and a desire to help others.
  • The Creator: Helping you be you (only better).
  • The Ruler: Queens, kings, CEO’s, presidents, or anyone with power represents the ruler.
Receive updates from Neosperience: