As human beings, we’re no strangers to role-playing. To be quite honest with you, I myself am no stranger to role-playing (you should have seen me last night). But when my wife recently compared her with Lynette Scavo from the series Desperate Housewifes all of this role-playing-mumbo-jumbo felt a bit strange to me.
Lynette Scavo really?
Let’s have a look at what the series says about Lynette:
Being a mother of four is difficult in of itself, but imagine three of those children being the next thing to the devil’s spawn? That’s the hand Lynette Scavo was dealt and I don’t think she’d trade her three boys and little girl for perfect children. Lynette is always willing to do what is best for her family. In the first episode of season 5, her husband Tom is going through a midlife crisis and he buys a Ford Mustang.
Aha, there we have it (and I leave it to your imagination to decide on what aspect of Tom could possibly relate with
my character or my latest car preference).
The comment of my wife apparently wasn’t so strange. It seems millions of people are comparing their character with these of the popular series. You can find tons of Desperate Housewife character quizzes on internet that can help you figure this out.
So this archetype thing got somewhat under my skin lately.
Do we layer different personalities around ourselves, presenting false faces when
they’re more “acceptable” and offering our true faces when we feel comfortable? Do we take on roles when necessary, roles that guide and shape our behavior?
Archetypes, storytelling and brands
Role-playing -on the simplest level- is getting together with some friends to write a story. Role-playing is joining around a campfire or a dining room to spin some tall tales. Role-playing games are stories. You create one of the main characters, and you create a story around your character. The rest of the players also create stories around their characters. And thereâ€™s an editor who brings those stories together. Now what if this editor would be the brand manager? Could role-playing and working with archetypes work to build stronger brands?
Sure! And it looks like a lot of fun too.
When you assign an archetype to a brand you clarify that brand’s role in the story, as well as help determine the overall theme of the story itself. Thatâ€™s all well and good, you say, but what actually goes on? What do these â€œcharactersâ€ do?
Let’s look at ‘The Hero’
The hero is usually the principal character and has qualities most readers can (or want to) identify with. Psyche thinkers like Jung describe the hero archetype as â€œthe egoâ€™s search for identity and wholeness.â€ The function of the hero is to grow and change through her journey as she encounters other archetypes. A hero is on a quest, mission or journey. â€œThe true mark of a hero,â€ says Jung, is in the act of sacrifice, â€œthe heroâ€™s willingness to give up something of value, perhaps even her own life, on behalf of an ideal or group,â€ and ultimately for the greater good.
If archetypes connect more deeply with people (and the stories around the archetype seem to travel faster than facts) than you can create more compelling brand personalities by aligning with archetypes.
The devil, the detail and
the human part of the story
the human part of the story
of this archetype storytelling stuff not only seems to be big fun but looks promising for big brands to make big money. Just like that? Well, not exactly. Like everything the devil is in the detail and in a perfect and authentic execution of archetypes and brand storytelling (for the record, I don’t feel like Tom Scavo at all and my wife is more beautiful then Lynette).
Let’s have a look at this silly example of how the brand ARIEL gets ‘THE HEROE’ archetype storytelling ALL WRONG
I also encourage you to watch the short clip “African Men, Hollywood Stereotypes”, created by the nonprofit group Mama Hope. Thereâ€™s quite a contrast between the movie imagery and the identities of the young men featured in the video.
The bottom line here is that there is a great opportunity for brands to step in to the gap left by Hollywood, brands and the media and FIND MORE AUTHENTIC WAYS TO HUMANIZE the character of your brand.
Dear brands, please start telling some human stories that I can relate to.