Any good book that you read on the market today, rather it’s a new best-selling novel or an old classic, you are going to find a common theme among them: archetypes. Archetypes have created a gold mine in marketing for literature for more than a millennium. They are the backbone to every book that allows a reader to escape from their own reality into a book filled with fantasy, adventure, war, history, romance, sci-fi, etc. Archetypes are everything in the book world and they are everything that helps to build your business brand as well.

Five Ancient Archetypes Your Brand Needs:

1) Rags to Riches

Most famous in books is the rags to riches archetype. Readers love to see characters who start as a pauper and one day become a prince because it gives them hope that one day, they might do the same. After all, that is the American dream. Brands who build off the rags to riches archetype create more emotion in their marketing, which is always a crowd-pleaser (if it’s true). Brands can use powerful rise-up slogans to create that rags to riches archetype that customers are looking to inspire them. Ex. Tesla’s “Ride Free”.

2) Overcoming The Monster

Every great story has a bad guy because it excites people to read a riveting story about the underdog defeating the bad guy (the monster). People love to watch as someone faces their fears head-on and overcomes their monster, it doesn’t matter if that monster is a physical person (David and Goliath) or one of personal nature (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), readers love the empowerment of a good win. For a brand, overcoming the monster is all about treating the customer as the hero and asking them to help in the company’s revolution. To make a customer feel empowered is a huge win. Ex. Gatorade’s “It is in you?”.

3) The Quest

In book form, the quest is about the hero’s journey. It’s about progression no matter what obstacles are thrown at them. The quest shows commitment and survival. Business brands need the quest so that it keeps them progressing forward in their own commitments whether it’s learning new technology, curing cancer, or something else. Most often it is the people behind the movements that shake the ground to create the quest due to hardship from their own past. Either way, a destination (quest) is necessary when building your brand. Ex. Toyota’s “Let’s Go Places”.

4) Comedy/Tragedy

“I used to think my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a comedy.” -Joker

When Joaquin Phoenix says this line in the movie, it sends shivers up the spine because it’s one of the truest statements ever said. Comedy is built off tragedy because many people find humor in the flaws, suffering, and moral weakness of other people. That is why some people choose to stay away from the tragedy archetype. Comedies are fueled by darkness, bewilderment, and confusion. They closely align with tragedy. In the brand world, slogans are used to create a comic relief such as Lay’s “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One” or “It’s Finger-Lickin’ Good” from KFC. Both are excellent slogans that have sold for years, but it’s easy to see where a comedy slogan has also created a tragedy among Americans from a health perspective. The comedy/tragedy slogan can be a goldmine in the brand world.

5) Return/Rebirth

Books also have a powerful rebirth factor. It’s a hero or heroine who either can’t be killed or won’t stay down. Despite the doom and gloom that fills their life, they stand up to fight just one more time (100+ more times). Brands can produce that same ideology because there is no quitting in baseball, there is no closure. It’s simply a time for rebirth, a time for a new phase. Ex. Apple’s “Think Different”

Alice in Wonderland is a prime of return. Alice goes through a whole entire world that shows her a different perspective and once she is done, she’s returned home. Much like the quest archetype, she’s had her journey but the return is all about implementing what she’s learned on the said journey to change her life. Brands can offer customers a Wonderland escape like Playstation’s “Live in Your World, Play in Ours” or Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness”. Both of these slogans create a world of possibilities in your mind that make you want to buy the product.

Using archetypes to build your brand is essential because just like when it comes to selling books, great story-telling is the end goal. People buy books because they know they are going to get a good story. They want the same things from their services and products.

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