Why Do CEOs & Founders Need to Know About Archetypes?

Why Do CEOs & Founders Need to Know About Archetypes?
Modern businesses operate in a world where understanding the customer is imperative to business success. While each customer is different, identifying commonalities in members of your target market is a game-changing starting point in creating a successful marketing strategy.
In this article, we look at Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung's archetypes in personality and psychology and show how using them as a guide can help you define the essence of your brand and connect with customers and potential customers on a deeper level.

Market segmentation and understanding the customer 

Understanding the customer is the key to initial success, and it's arguably the most significant route to long-term business survival. Knowing your customers is the secret sauce that keeps you ahead of the game and industry disruptors. 
Fortunately, we also operate in a world where you can broadly gather whatever data you want to help you understand those customers. However, the volume of information and varying ways of obtaining it can be overwhelming, especially for young businesses.
This is where market segmentation is essential to creating an effective marketing strategy. When our Fractional CMOs work with business and marketing leaders, we find that using Carl Jung's archetypes are a helpful place to start.

Archetypes and their role in marketing strategy

Carl Jung's archetypes are based on the idea that there are "identical psychic structures common to all" and that these influence how we experience the world from day one. This can be a constructive starting point for marketing segmentation and an effective marketing strategy for marketing experts.
The principle is that elements of the human psyche are not the result of our own experiences but are pre-personal or transpersonal. They influence human thought and behaviour in the same way that our heart or lungs impact our physical experience of life. The net result is an element of predictability in our behaviour.

Carl Jung's 12 archetypes

The 12 archetypes, according to Carl Jung, are briefly described as follows. However, if you would like to read further, the article, Understanding Personality: The 12 Jungian Archetypes, by Conor Neill is particularly interesting.
  • The innocent: Someone who seeks peace and happiness of all.
  • The member/everyman: A superb supporter of larger goals and a great team member.
  • The hero: Fiercely courageous with a warrior mentality.
  • The caregiver: Always ready to help someone in need.
  • The explorer: Someone who is insatiably curious and eager for adventure.
  • The outlaw/rebel: Someone who's dedicated to improving situations and changing systems for the better.
  • The lover: Someone who pursues meaningful connections with others.
  • The creator: Someone who tirelessly creates and innovates to put their market on the world.
  • The jester: Someone who entertains and can identify and make light of the world's paradoxes.
  • The sage: Someone who dedicates their life to learning and understanding.
  • The magician: Someone with the transformative powers to develop and create a vision.
  • The ruler: Someone who seeks to be powerful and in control creating success for themselves and those around them.
While Jungian theory indicates that we all have elements of multiple or all of these archetypes, most of us have one that's dominant. This can often correlate with a broad target market for marketing experts to begin a more in-depth market segmentation process.

The four cardinal orientations

The archetypes are further categorised into four 'cardinal orientations', which is essentially a core life purpose. These include:
  • Ego: To leave a mark on the world
  • Order: To provide structure to the world
  • Social: To connect to others
  • Freedom: Who yearn for paradise
These four orientations can be used to group the archetypes that have shared values and priorities.

Famous brands and their customer archetypes

While, to some degree, archetypes can either sound overly academic or like pop spiritualism, we can see them in action in some of the world's leading brands. 
For example: 

The hero archetype

The hero is on a mission to make the world a better place. They are characteristically courageous, bold and inspirational. We can see this reflected in the marketing strategy of brands like Nike, BMW or Amazon. If we look at Amazon, the brand's essence is to be the most customer-centric company delivering convenience, the widest selection of products and the lowest prices. 
This objective is epitomised in their core values: 
  • Innovation
  • Customer focus
  • Excellence
  • Accessibility
This is then followed through at every customer touchpoint. They exhibit innovative marketing, sales and technologies, effective and reliable service and honest communications and branding.

The explorer archetype

The explorer finds inspiration in travel, risk, discovery, and the thrill of new experiences. This is epitomised in brands like Jeep, Red Bull and Patagonia. If we take this last example, the company has positioned itself as an activist - aiming to make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and help the environment. 
Their values align with this brand essence, broadly identifiable as: 
  • Nature
  • Sustainability
  • Exploration
  • High quality
These elements are all reflected in their marketing strategy, forming a loop back to their archetype and target customers.

Using archetypes to develop your marketing strategy 

When we work with business leaders and their marketing departments, we find that using an exercise in identifying archetypes helps to align departments and generate a sense of shared purpose amongst team members and leadership. 
Archetypes can work effectively for new businesses setting out their marketing strategy first. They can also be an excellent way for established companies to get back on track if they feel that their product or service may have strayed from their initial purpose or find they are losing/are at risk of losing market share.
Clarity of purpose and a clear understanding of your target market are reassuring and essential tools for producing effective marketing. However, they also result in more cost-effective marketing, ensuring you're not casting a wide net in the hope of catching anything that floats, but purposeful lines that will catch and hold onto the particular fish that you're after.

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