Per Robert Öhlin recently wrote an article named “What can we learn from Hollywood?” published in the Swedish marketing industry newspaper Dagens Media and re-published it on his blog. Unfortunately it´s in Swedish, but try putting it in Google Translate and you also add a lot of humour to the reading!
In the article he describes how archetypes makes a difference in whether people care och don´t about brands and why. From my point of view it is a brilliant executive brief-style version on Mark´s and Pearson´s über-smart book The Hero and the Outlaw and Joseph Campbells seminal The Hero with a thousand faces.
Per´s view point is from within the brand, answering questions about how brands can stay relevant in an ever more competitative consumer world. Per suggests managing the brand dramaturgy by starting in the core values and work oneself down from there. Myself, I´m more interested in how people use brands as props when creating their identity using self-stories. My firm belief is that true love happens when the brand archetypes meets the personal archetype conveyed by a certain audience. For example people deliberately or unconcius identifying themselves as Caregivers and a Caregiver brand.
But, as Per points out, story-telling is about conflict, so things really starts moving when an opposing archetype is introduced on the scene. Highly intuitive people tend to react strongly to highly sensing people, either wanting to be more like them (how many intellectuals doesn´t secretely dream about beeing a farmer?) or disdaining them. We all know about love/hate relationships where the opposing forces of push and pull are constantly present. It work´s the same whether it´s in a romantic relationship. Match.com knows this and hired the attraction expert Dr. Helen Fisher to create a personality test for the romantically disadvantaged. Opposites attracts, but have a hard time living together. Either you have great sex or you have great conversations. The third option is laying your hands on a psychologically mature person that are not identifying very much with their personality. (Hmmm…. A dating service for the spiritually advanced might actually be quite a good idea now a days!)
Back to the topic. I believe that peope seldom tell stories about brands. People tell stories about themselves AS BRANDS all the time, however. Nowadays hundred of millions of people are using their blogs, and other social media platforms as tools for telling their self-stories. Blogs are particularly interesting though, since they provide rich data on how people formulate their archetypical voice, how they change their personas over time and – the coolest thing of it all – how they use DIFFERENT brands as props depending on what persona thay are currently communicating. Most people use different personas at different times, depending on what they believe is proper and what they level of comfort they are feeling at the moment. Blogs are like an ocean of recorded human voices providing a never before seen opportunity to study patterns in how different psychographic segments (archetypes, myers-briggs, enneagram, temperaments etc) are ACTUALLY using brands as props. But also what other stuff they take an interest in such as where they go for news and information, what celebrities and/or authorities they quote etc.
The marketing world is about to see a fundamental change in how brands and audiences can be managed thanks to the second thesis in the Cluetrain Manifesto – Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors. How we THINK is more defining of how we live than how old we are or where our house is located. How we think is what psychographics is all about.
Archetypes helps us think up stories about ourselves and the world around us. Different psychographic segments identify themselves with different archetypes and create dramaturgical stories using conflicting archetypes found in products, celebrities or brands. And that is all to be discovered on a grand scale thanks to the fact that the web is enabling conversations and ways of self-expressions that were “simply not possible in the era of mass media” to quote the Cluetrain Manifesto, the most interesting book for marketers since Walter Lippman´s Public Opinion.