In every corner of the world, from ancient scrolls to modern tales, we find stories resonating with universal themes and characters. These aren’t mere tales passed down through time but reflect the power of archetypes, symbolic blueprints embedded in our collective unconscious. Carl Jung postulated that these archetypes, spanning various cultures and epochs, are intrinsic to a shared human consciousness. It’s a phenomenon that sees cultures, separated by vast oceans and millennia, narrating tales of remarkably similar characters and narratives.
Consider the friend who constantly bemoans their lot, reluctant to accept assistance yet ever-complaining about their burdens. They can be infuriating, until you view their behaviour through the lens of their personality archetype, and realise this behaviour is driven by a constant sense that they are unsupported. Give them the support they need, suddenly they morph from an ever-complaining pain in the arse into the most nurturing, caring person you could imagine.
Archetypes can give us incredibly powerful insights into human behaviour. But how can we tap into this profound knowledge in a business context? How can we decode and leverage these patterns to connect with our clientele on a deeper, more meaningful level?
Before I became a marketing maven and award-winning copywriter, I was an archaeologist. I’m also a fiction writer. These three things have merged over the years to give me a rather unique perspective. I’ve developed my own system, driven by the need for better psychological insights into targeting an audience than the generic demographics provided by traditional ‘ideal client avatars’.
Here’s how to use archetypes to shape a thriving business that naturally attracts your ideal clients and turns them into superfans.
What Are Archetypes?
At the heart of countless stories and legends lie concepts so timeless, it transcends culture, age, gender, and geography. These concepts, or ‘archetypes’, forms the foundation upon which humanity’s most enduring tales are built. But what are these archetypes? And how have they persisted throughout the annals of storytelling?
Enter Joseph Campbell, a seminal figure in mythological studies, who introduced the world to the concept of The Hero’s Journey. Through his explorations, Campbell identified a universal narrative, an archetypal blueprint that resonates with audiences across different eras and cultures. This journey, which charts the hero’s transformative path, has its roots in ancient tales like The Odyssey and seamlessly transitions into the cinematic masterpieces of our time.
Consider the rich tapestry of stories that have captivated audiences globally: The chosen one, Harry Potter, embarks on a journey fraught with trials and tribulations, much like Neo’s reality-bending adventures in The Matrix. Middle-Earth’s destiny rests on the shoulders of a hobbit in The Lord of the Rings, while a galaxy far, far away witnesses the rise, fall, and redemption of a Jedi in Star Wars. From the youthful exuberance of Spider-Man to the soul-searching journey of Simba in The Lion King, these tales, while diverse in setting and characters, all echo the timeless pattern of the archetypal hero’s journey.
These stories underscore the universal allure of archetypes. They serve as a testament to their undying relevance, not just in the world of storytelling but also in the realm of business. In comprehending how to harness the power of archetypes, brands can create compelling narratives, drawing in their ideal clientele and forging connections that stand the test of time.
Discovering the Power of Archetypes
Discovering archetypes was like finding a key to an ancient treasure. A colleague of mine, forever brimming with optimism, was the embodiment of the Dreamer archetype. At times, their unwavering trust in the world seemed naïve, leading them to occasional disappointment. Recognising this pattern, I began to introduce them to experiences that nurtured their hopeful nature, while also subtly preparing them for potential setbacks.
Another friend, perpetually restless, embodied the Seeker. Their constant quest for deeper meaning and new horizons sometimes made them feel isolated in our circle. With my newfound understanding, I began initiating conversations that explored profound topics, indulging their thirst for knowledge and making them feel valued and understood. (Honestly, this helped me as much as it did them, as I have always struggled with social interactions that lack depth. I often feel certain circles of friends can’t relate to me or understand the things I want to talk about. I realised this friend was stuck in exactly the same predicament and now we both get a lot more out of conversations.)
This deep dive into the world of archetypes did not merely provide academic satisfaction; it equipped me with tools to nurture my relationships, fostering stronger bonds built on mutual understanding and respect.
Applying Archetypes in Business
When diving into the business realm, I quickly realised that the traditional methods of carving out ideal client profiles, based on mere demographics, felt inadequate. Age, gender, occupation, favourite brands… Such parameters, while helpful, often skim the surface of what truly drives a person to choose, trust, and invest in a brand.
In today’s saturated marketplace, consumers yearn for a deeper connection, an authentic resonance with the brands they choose to engage with. This is where the power of archetypes comes into play. By grounding your branding in archetypal psychology, you’re tapping into age-old, universally understood patterns of human behaviour and emotion. It’s a level of depth that mere demographics cannot match.
Archetypes help businesses to sculpt a brand voice that genuinely echoes the hopes, dreams, and ideals of their ideal clients. This isn’t about merely emulating popular culture or aligning with transient trends. It’s about understanding the primal forces that drive your audience, the timeless tales they see themselves in, the roles and narratives they naturally gravitate towards, the subjects they most care about, and the world views, perspectives and philosophies they value.
By understanding the shadow of your ideal client’s archetype (essentially, the potentially negative consequences of their psychological makeup) you can effectively predict problems and issues they’re having and help them tackle them. You can tap into their deepest fears and darkest thoughts when you’re formulating pain points for sales pitches. And you can understand what to avoid that might trigger negative emotions or behaviours in them that would put them off working with you.
The Warrior’s shadow, for example, can leave someone perpetually ensuring the peace and safety of everyone around them, but never achieving it for themselves (think Louisa in Encanto, the constant pressure she’s under, and her total inability to relax until her sister helps).
By leveraging this profound insight, businesses can craft content that not only speaks to the logical brain but resonates with the soul, forging relationships that transcend the typical transactional bonds and venture into the realm of genuine loyalty and trust.
Archetypes In World Mythology
Throughout human history, the narrative threads of mythology have woven a tapestry rich with universal symbols and themes. These age-old stories, spanning diverse cultures and eras, resonate deeply within us because they stem from what Carl Jung termed the ‘collective unconscious’. Understanding these archetypes not only enhances our appreciation for global mythologies but also informs us on how to use archetypes effectively in modern contexts.
In the vast expanse of the human psyche, few concepts have intrigued and mystified as much as Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious. At its core, this theory proposes an intrinsic reservoir of shared human experiences, a wellspring of universal symbols, motifs, and narratives that reside deep within our collective psyche. These are not learned but are rather inherited, transcending individual experiences and cultural distinctions.
Archetypes, central to this theory, play a paramount role in shaping our narratives and behaviours. They act as universally recognised motifs, echoing through tales old and new, influencing our decisions and guiding our emotional responses. Their significance cannot be understated; they offer a lens through which we can view common patterns of the human experience. Whether through the heroic struggles of ancient warriors or the modern-day challenges faced by everyday individuals, archetypes provide a roadmap, helping us navigate the intricate maze of human emotions, aspirations, and fears. Understanding these archetypes is pivotal, not just for appreciating art, literature, and culture, but also for delving deeper into our own psyche and the shared stories that define humanity.
Diving Into The Pantheons: Archetypal Deities From Around The World
Throughout human history, different cultures have been captivated by their own unique pantheon of gods and goddesses. These deities often represent universal themes and archetypes, shedding light on shared human experiences and values.
Greek Pantheon: Ancient Greece offers a rich collection of myths surrounding gods and goddesses like Zeus, the almighty ruler, and Athena, the symbol of wisdom. By studying their stories, we uncover their archetypal significance and the profound impact they’ve had on Western thought and culture.
Norse Pantheon: The dramatic landscapes of the North are the backdrop for tales of deities like Thor, the thunder god; Odin, the wise one; and Freyja, the embodiment of love. These narratives reveal our deep-rooted beliefs about bravery, insight, and affection, and how these ancient stories continue to shape our modern worldview.
Egyptian Pantheon: Journeying to the ancient Nile, we encounter gods and goddesses like Osiris, the deity of the afterlife; Isis, the protector; and Khonsu, the moon god. Through their tales, we can learn how to use archetypes to deepen our understanding of themes such as rebirth, protection, and time’s passage.
Hindu Pantheon: The vast subcontinent of India presents an array of stories about deities like Krishna, the celestial charmer; Kali, the fierce embodiment of power; and Shiva, the cosmic dancer. Delving into their representative archetypes, we glean lessons about devotion, transformation, and cyclical change.
Celtic Mythology: The enigmatic landscapes of the Celts introduce figures such as Ceridwen, the goddess of transformation and rebirth; Brigid, the beacon of home; and Cernunnos, the lord of nature. Through their legends, we connect with primal forces and age-old wisdom that echo through time.
The Essence Remains, The Names Change
As we traverse the diverse terrains of world mythology, a striking pattern emerges: while the names, narratives, and cultural settings might vary, the core essence of specific archetypes remains remarkably consistent. This consistency across traditions is a testament to the robustness of the collective unconscious, a shared reservoir of symbols, and universal experiences that Carl Jung posited resides within all of us.
By understanding this universal fabric, businesses and individuals can learn how to use archetypes effectively in varied contexts. Whether you’re crafting a brand narrative or connecting with individuals from disparate cultural backgrounds, recognizing the unchanging core of an archetype can serve as a powerful compass. It provides the assurance that, even as the external details adapt to the environment, the underlying potency and resonance of the archetype remain intact.
Unravelling the Power of Universal Stories
Across the annals of history, through diverse societies and sweeping epochs, certain tales have consistently resonated, echoing deep-seated human desires and emotions. But what makes these archetypal stories so universally compelling? The answer lies in our innate human drive to seek patterns, derive meaning, and connect with something larger than ourselves.
These narratives, irrespective of their cultural or temporal origins, tap into fundamental human motivations, aspirations, and fears. By tuning into these stories and understanding their archetypal structures, we are not just indulging in age-old tales; we’re connecting with the essence of what it means to be human. Grasping these archetypal patterns provides not only a richer comprehension of human behaviour but also a strategic blueprint on how to use archetypes to harness this understanding, fostering deeper connections, building trust, and evoking shared emotions and ideals.
Archetypes in Modern Narratives
In today’s fast-paced digital era, one might assume that ancient archetypes have been relegated to dusty tomes and forgotten folklore. Yet, a closer look reveals their pervasive presence in contemporary tales, blockbuster movies, and even brand stories, a testament to their enduring power and relevance.
From the intrepid seekers in adventure films, the sage mentors in coming-of-age stories, to the guardians and jesters that animate some of our most beloved brands, age-old archetypes continue to play pivotal roles. Their adaptability to modern contexts is a testament to their core essence, which strikes a universal chord, transcending time and technology.
Harnessing these archetypes isn’t merely an exercise in nostalgia; it’s an art form. When adeptly woven into modern narratives, they have the potential to evoke deep emotions, build trust, and connect with audiences on an almost primal level. By understanding and employing how to use archetypes in contemporary settings, storytellers and brands can craft compelling tales that resonate, creating connections that are both immediate and lasting.
Building Your Ideal Client’s Archetypal Profile
Navigating the realm of archetypes is not only enlightening for understanding myths and tales but is also a powerful tool in the world of business, especially when identifying and connecting with your ideal client.
Central to this exploration is the structure of an individual’s psyche. It’s a symphony of archetypes: one dominant and three secondary motifs. The dominant archetype acts as the main force, setting the tone and shaping core behaviours. On the other hand, the three secondary archetypes play a harmonious accompaniment, influencing various aspects of reactions, decision-making, and nuances in behaviour.
Understanding these intricate layers is paramount in business. By recognising the delicate balance and interplay of these archetypes in your target audience, you can tailor your messaging and branding to resonate more profoundly. Imagine crafting narratives that don’t just appeal to the mind, but stir the soul.
Content Marketing Using Archetypes
Navigating the world of content marketing can sometimes feel like navigating a labyrinth, with numerous turns and potential dead-ends. However, the ancient wisdom of archetypes provides a beacon, illuminating a path towards resonant and impactful content.
Central to this methodology is architecting a content schedule rooted in archetypes. This framework classifies content themes into three tiers: dominant, secondary, and tertiary. Let’s unpack this:
Dominant Content Themes: These serve as the mainstay of your content strategy. They’re shaped by the prevailing archetype, addressing the most fundamental aspects of your ideal client’s psyche.
Secondary Content Themes: These bring depth and nuance, addressing the three secondary archetypes in an individual’s psyche. It’s here that we enrich our narrative, catering to the subtler aspects of a client’s motivations and desires.
Tertiary Content Themes: These can be seen as the embellishments, touching on broader themes that still resonate but might not be as central to your client’s archetype.
So, why adopt this archetype-driven content approach?
Variety with Purpose: It ensures content remains diverse, preventing monotony, yet every piece serves a clear, intentional purpose.
Holistic Engagement: By addressing every element of your client’s psyche, you’re not just skimming the surface. You’re diving deep, ensuring comprehensive engagement.
Building Trust: Archetype-driven content fosters a powerful trifecta – helping audiences know, like, and trust your brand. By speaking directly to their core being, you establish a connection that’s genuine and lasting.
Embarking on this journey might seem daunting, but fear not. The subsequent sections provide a detailed, step-by-step guide, ensuring you harness the power of archetypes to mould a content marketing strategy that not only captivates but deeply resonates.
How To Use Archetypes For Business Growth
As we’ve journeyed through the intricate labyrinth of archetypes, it’s evident that their influence transcends mere mythology and personal relationships. These timeless motifs hold the key to transformative business growth, particularly when integrated into branding and content strategies.
Archetypes, deeply rooted in the collective unconscious, possess the power to evoke specific emotions, values, and desires. In the realm of business, this means an unparalleled understanding of your target audience: their core drives, fears, aspirations, and decision-making processes.
Imagine, for a moment, aligning your brand’s messaging with these profound patterns. You wouldn’t just be pitching a product or service; you’d be speaking to the very essence of your potential customer, resonating on a deeply psychological level.
To really dig into how to use archetypes in this way, check out my book, Divine Blogging, which gives you a detailed guide to crafting your ideal client’s archetypal profile and then using it to create an archetype-driven content marketing strategy. For now though, let’s take a look at using archetypes to drive your content.