Archetypes 101: Brands Rooted in Our Dreams

I don’t claim to be an expert in psychology, but it’s certainly one of my passions both in and outside of work. There are dozens of ways archetypes are useful, including personality tests like Myers-Briggs,  but I find the most interesting relate specifically to the role archetypes often play in brands (and buyer personas are a form of customer archetype).

One of my favorite pioneers of the human mind is Carl Jung, who studied tens of thousands of dreams to understand our subconscious. What he claims to have found, and many have continued to build upon was remarkable, profound and strikingly simple: there are a handful of recurring characters and storylines that appear without fail in the dreams of every single person in every single culture around the world.
Authors like Joseph Campbell have built on Jung’s research through books like The Hero With a Thousand Faces, identifying the common threads that run through all stories whether it’s Homer’s Odyssey or The Notebook, tying together seemingly unrelated works of literature, film, music and more.

Many incredible musicians don’t have a strong understanding of music theory, but regardless their songs fall into the same musical scales as the virtuosos who do. Just like in songwriting, archetypes are present in great work whether you are conscious of them or not (psychology pun intended). You don’t have to formally use archetype theory in the creation of every brand, but it can be a helpful and interesting tool to support great branding as well as understand why we love the brands we do.

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