Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Character - Weak or Strong?

Well, I just completed reading this book. Carol S Pearson is a renowned author and Director of the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership and a Professor of Leadership Studies in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland College Parkanother.

Her previous work "Awakening the Heroes Within," was also an interesting read. She spoke in great details about the classical archetypes of human behaviour and how brands seems to follow a similar trait.

The use of archetypes as a part of brand strategy is nothing new. A truly effective tool. At least in our country where the rate of Idol worship is high, Brand archetype actually allows us to create strong brand characters. Since advertising is the new form of entertainment, in-depth characterisation and storytelling becomes important.

Creators of great brands have intuited this simple truth. Madonna has always been the outrageous rebel. Jack Nicholson has always been the bad boy outlaw, while Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is always perceived as the wide eyed innocent. All successful brands have a strong character. The archetype like those in classic mythology drives the brand’s behaviour, character, tone etc in the marketplace.

There are twelve archetypes at work with possible brands that fits the bill:

  • The Caregiver - Johnson & Johnson, Saffola
  • The Lover - Victoria's Secret, Moods
  • The Creator - Apple, Fabmall
  • The Hero - Nike, Nokia
  • The Outlaw - Thumbs Up, Kingfisher
  • The Magician - Disney, Yash Raj Films
  • The Ruler - Microsoft, ITC Cigarettes
  • The Jester - 7Up, Mentos
  • The Explorer - Royal Enfield, Cafe Coffee Day
  • The Casual Guy - Proline, Timex
  • The Innocent - Bata, Dove
  • The Sage - P&G, The Hindu
Santosh Desai in a recent article mentioned how characters in our advertising and communication have become so predictable and cliched. We had our own share of memorable, distinct and easily recognizable brand characters in Lalitaji, Lola Kutty, Sunil Babu's neighbour, Gattu, Amul Girl just to name a few. But those were good old days.

This book provides interesting insights about how important it is to understand the archetype of your brand. Probably understanding and using a brand archetype can give us a headstart in the story telling process.

So what's your archetype?

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