Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes

<aside> đź“Ž This article is the first half in a two-part series.



I don’t write book reviews. Not since high school. But this is an exception. The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes (2001) by co-authors, Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, has changed how I see brands. The lens of cultural archetypes opens possibilities and narrows focus for greater impact in identity design, brand messaging, and campaign marketing. This book deserves more attention.

Their thesis is built on psychiatrist, Carl Jung’s understanding of psychological archetypes through events, relationships, and motifs. Jung proposed twelve archetypal figures as a means of understanding myth, psychology, and culture. Authors, Mark and Pearson use those archetypes to frame brands, consumer markets, and individuals.

Jung classified the twelve archetypes within a matrix of four categories: freedom, social, order, and ego (fig. 1). Mark and Pearson use a similar matrix that overlay with different verbiage. Their categories are independence, belonging, stability, and mastery (fig. 2).

fig. 1, Carl Jung

fig. 1, Carl Jung

fig. 2, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson

fig. 2, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson

This matrix and these archetypes apply not only to brands but products, experiences, services, and anything money can buy. It is the essence of an organization. This is a system for managing meaning in brand.

These brand archetypes should be used as a filter so that all brand visuals, language, and feelings reflect the core brand archetype — the core self (ego) of the brand. These archetypes represent a core brand charter. They are means of awareness, attraction, and engagement — key relationships to customers.

The Twelve Archetypes

1. The Innocent Free to be you and me The Innocent may also be known as Pollyanna, puer or puella, utopian, traditionalist, naive mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer.

2. The Explorer Don’t fence me in The Explorer also may be known as the seeker, adventurer, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim, quester, antihero, rebel.

3. The Sage The truth will set you free The Sage may also be known as the expert, scholar, detective, oracle, evaluator, advisor, philosopher, researcher, thinker, planner, professional, mentor, teacher, contemplative.

4. The Hero Where there’s a will, there’s a way The Hero may also be known as the warrior, the crusader, the rescuer, the superhero, the soldier, the winning athlete, dragon slayer, the competitor, and the team player.

5. The Outlaw Rules are meant to be broken The Outlaw may also be known as the rebel, the revolutionary, the villain, the wild man or woman, the misfit, the enemy, or the iconoclast.

6. The Magician It can happen! The Magician may also be known as the visionary, catalyst, innovator, charismatic leader, mediator, shaman, healer or medicine man or woman.

7. The Regular Guy/Gal All men and women are created equal The Regular Guy/Gal may also be known as the good old boy, the regular Jane, Everyman, Jane or Joe Sixpack, the common man, the guy or gal next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, or the good neighbor.