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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The Hero: Triumphing over adversity and evil. John Kennedy, John Wayne, John Glenn and, of course, all superheroes are heroes.
  5. The Outlaw: Rules were meant to be broken. This archetype has the attraction of forbidden fruit (yes, think about Apple).
  6. 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.
  7. The Regular Guy/Girl: The virtues of being ordinary. The regular guy symbolizes situation comedies, country and other easy listening music.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. The Caregiver: Doing well by doing good. The caregiver is an altruist, moved by compassion, generosity and a desire to help others.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Society Neosperience Apps Innovation Neosperience Neuromarketing Analytics Branding Archetypes