Using Archetypes in Branding

with
Kaye Putnam

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Archetypes?
  2. Brand Character
  3. Offer Doctor
  4. Demand
  5. Energetic Influence

1. What Are Archetypes?

Arek Dvornechuck:
What's up branding experts? Arek here at Ebaqdesign. And welcome to On Branding Podcast, the only podcast where I interview branding experts to give you actionable tips on everything branding and beyond. And in this episode, I interview Kaye Putnam and we talk about using archetypes in branding and Kaye is a psychology-driven brand strategist and her formal degree is in marketing with a psychology minor. So, she has worked with hundreds of clients from international corporations to solopreneurs. She developed her own method of branding by using the power of archetypes. So Kaye works with students in her brand incubation program and also with clients one-on-one to help them with branding their business. So, Kaye is an expert when it comes to psychology-driven brand strategy and that’s why we really wanted to have her on our podcast today to talk about using archetypes in branding. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us on our podcast.

Kaye Putnam:
Hello, hello. Thank you so much for having me.

Arek Dvornechuck:Thank you. So basically you pitch that a brand is so much more than just design, right? And you strongly recommend that we should start by uncovering the psychology of our brand first and use those beliefs and personality and timeless archetypes to help us define our brand and only then we can jump into the design part, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Exactly. Design is really the tip of the iceberg. I like to say that we want to build our brands on truth, not trends. So we don’t want to just look at our competitors or look at our industry to see who looks good and do something similar to them because that can place us in a commodity position in the market’s mind. So instead we start from inside. We start from who we are as a company and identify what our unique point of view is, what our values are, what our personality is and then once we know what that is and we get crystal clear there, then we can be ready to make some design messaging.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So awesome. So I wanted to make this podcast actionable for our listeners and talk about the archetypes but also about your framework that you use with your clients, right? To help them harness the power of archetypes. But before we talk about framework, let’s just start with the basics because maybe not all of our listeners – we just need a reminder of what are archetypes. So let’s talk about what are archetypes and why we should use them in branding, OK? So maybe you can just talk about your journey. What is psychology-driven brand strategy and then how you came across archetypes and why we should use them in branding?

Kaye Putnam:
Sure. I will start with what archetypes are. So psychology tells us that our brains naturally are looking for categories. It’s naturally grouping like things together and recognizing patterns. So archetypes are those patterns. They’re cross-cultural, timeless categories or types that show up across movies, across stories, across brands and you’re welcome because now that you understand what brand archetypes are and when you get to know each of the 12 or more and other people’s frameworks, you will start to see them everywhere. So you will see them when you’re watching Netflix. You will see them when you’re walking down the aisle of a grocery store or through a mall. They’re literally everywhere because they’re connected to their universal human desires and again those categories that our brains are naturally seeking. So I will give a few examples just to get you acquainted. 

Arek Dvornechuck:
Sure.

Kaye Putnam:
I’m not going to go through – maybe all 12, we can do that if you want to. But just as an example, Nike, the apparel and athletic company is a very quintessential hero archetype brand whereas the Wall Street Journal which is a newspaper in the finance industry is more of the sage archetype. So all of these big brands, big agencies have been using brand archetypes for decades and my work has been really centered around making it actionable for smaller entrepreneurs, so people who don’t have million dollar marketing or branding budgets and helping them add more humanness into their brands by leveraging the archetypes. I discovered the brand archetypes because I needed them. So when I first got started in online marketing and in building my personal brand online, I was really awkward. So I was looking at all of these successful entrepreneurs who have gone before me and my first assumption was that I should just be like them and I will be successful. I just need to follow their strategies, their steps and model their success and I will see similar success. Well, like spoiler alert, that’s not what happened. I was trying to piecemeal all of these different personalities together. None of them really fit. None of them were really in alignment and I probably ended up scaring away more clients than the ones that I attracted. So when I came across this website, it was – it looked like it was built in 1995. It was no frills, super basic site and all it did was listed these 12 archetypes. It wasn’t even in the context of branding. It didn’t really give any attribution. It just described these 12 archetypes of caregiver, creator, entertainer, explorer, et cetera. As I was reading through them, I suddenly could start to see each of these successful entrepreneurs that I have been trying to model where they fit and I realized that the most successful ones, they were only embodying one, maybe two of these archetypes, not all 12 of them like I was trying to do from my onset. So I immediately needed to know which archetype I was. Back then, you know, I think this was four, five years ago now. There wasn’t a really great tool that I found online with a quick search. So I set out to build my own. So I created my own brand archetype quiz. It has now been taken over 100,000 times and have been obsessed with magic of archetypes ever since.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah and I took the quiz and it’s awesome. It’s really comprehensive. So just to sum up for our listeners, so archetypes – maybe it’s vital to mention that they originally come from Carl Jung, a psychologist. You gave us two examples, Apple and Nike. Nike and so other examples.

Kaye Putnam:
Wall Street Journal. Yeah.

Arek Dvornechuck: 

And Wall Street Journal which is sage and the Nike is hero, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Uh-huh.

Arek Dvornechuck:
And yeah, so basically archetypes identify those patterns that you mentioned in human behavior, right? And we can see them across movies, stories and of course brands. And also you mentioned that you were all over the place, trying to like take some of the best practices of – from other successful entrepreneurs. But it didn’t really work. So maybe it’s vital also to mention to our listeners that, you know, archetypes help us identify those partners. But we should speak to one core and maybe some secondary archetypes but not just like cherry-pick personality traits from all of them for example because then we are all over the place and it just doesn’t hold up, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Exactly. They’re most powerful when you use them as a tool to filter yourself and to focus yourself. We don’t want to try to be all things to everyone. That’s the kiss of death for branding. We want to take a very particular position in the market and archetypes can help us do that.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So since we know what are archetypes and why we should use them in branding, now let’s talk about how we can actually use them. OK? So I know that you’ve developed your own framework that is called Clarity CODE which is the process that helps you develop a psychology-driven brand, right? And archetypes would fall into the first step of your framework. So in Clarity CODE, CODE is an acronym in which the first letter C stands for character, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Exactly.

2. Brand Character

Arek Dvornechuck
So can you talk to us about that first step of your framework and how we can use – once we identify our CODE archetype, how we can use that to define our brand character?

Kaye Putnam:
Yes, and this is intentional because most people start building brands by looking outside of themselves. They start by looking at the market and being like, “OK, this is my ideal client,” or this is the assumption that I’m making that I think my ideal client is and I think this is what they might want from me and we end up again trying to be all things to all people and it’s an ineffective message. So instead of starting on the outside, my framework helps us identify who we are first, our unique strengths, what I call your  innate advantage that you’re bringing to the market and archetypes help us to do a lot of this. So it can help us decide the stories that we’re going to tell. It can help us shape our brand origin story. It can help point to words that have a very emotional resonance with our ideal clients and that reinforces this identity that we have chosen by choosing our top two archetypes. So all of these elements of the brand identity can be inspired and helped – the archetypes can help us find it, right? We don’t have to just choose from random places. We can have a more educated decision about what that is. Then the rest of the branding process, it kind of waltzes over into marketing territory a bit. So C is character. It’s who we are as a brand. O is what we’re offering to the market. So it’s the value that we’re bringing. It’s what we’re selling. I would argue that this is in fact part of your brand because again, we’re building a brand from the inside out. If we have a fantastic product that’s differentiated in the market, that’s going to reinforce our brand message. D is all about demand. So it’s how we’re being our brand through our content, through our messaging, through our stories and sales messages. Then finally my wildcard in my Clarity Code process is the entrepreneurial energy or what I like to call your energetic influence. The reason why I include energy into this equation is because I’m typically working with entrepreneurs who are either building a personal brand or the – maybe have a corporate name for their business. But their genius, their personality, their values are what is driving the business forward. If we as an entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to how charismatic and magnetic we’re being in our business, we can fall really flat even if we have everything else figured out. So we pay attention to how you’re embodying the energy that’s going to attract your ideal clients as the final step of the Clarity Code process.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Now we are going to take a quick break here but we will be right back. Listen, my mission is to help people design iconic brands. So whether you are a business leader who wants to be more intentional with branding and all of its aspects or you are a creative who wants to attract powerful clients and surely be able to help them with branding, then you need to start with a discovery session and then develop a strategy that will inform all your creative work and everything you need to learn how to do that, you can find in my online courses at www.ebaqdesign.com/shop where I share with you my worksheets, case studies, video tutorials and other additional resources to help you feel safe and strong about your process. And now let’s get back to our conversation with Kaye Putnam. Right. So we used your framework to help us implement that knowledge, right? But I know that you have discussed Brandfluency on your website and basically you go into details about each and every archetype, right? So perhaps can you give us some – more examples of – so we can like – maybe some of the famous brands? So we can relate and we can understand. I know you gave us a couple of examples. Maybe you can come up with a few more. I can just get you started, maybe like you know Harley-Davidson is an old archetype we can all relate because we all know this brand. So it’s about being rebellious, you know American-loving, freedom-seeking personality. Do you have – can you just give us some more examples?

Kaye Putnam:
Yeah, for sure. So Campbell Soup is a very popular Caregiver brand here in the states. That’s a canned soup brand. We also have brands like Adobe or Sharpie that are Creator archetype brands. Brands like Jeep or North Face are very standard or typical Explorer brands. Entertainer brands are a lot of fun. They’re the ones that typically have the very funny like Superbowl commercials. So brands like Old Spice like the body wash and deodorant company. Or also, Doritos and Pepsi have a very Entertainer-esque brand. Girl/Guy Next Door, I don’t know of this one is very – I don’t think this one is worldwide, but we have a financial advising company called, Charles Schwab, their slogan is “Just ask Chuck” or something similar to that. A very guy next door, also like Allstate is an insurance company that’s Girl/Guy Next Door. We talked about Hero. Innocent brand that we tend to get a lot of like children-focused brands, but we also have the grocery store whole foods which is all about bringing foods back to their natural state. Do you want me to keep going, Arek? I had more.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Oh, I can add a few examples maybe, like I also came across this brand, Innocent juices.

Kaye Putnam:
Yeah.

Arek Dvornechuck:
That’s already the name suggests you know. So they are all about this Innocent archetype, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Mm-hmm.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Unprocessed, cold press you know without any preservatives and stuff like that, additives. So it’s about Innocent archetype because Innocent archetype is all about you know – it’s about natural living naturally and stuff like that. So just other examples, maybe like Caregiver would be probably most of nonprofits and charity, right, like WWF. Ruler. I know that some of different brand strategies define those archetypes slightly differently. I mean they carry sometimes different names but it’s basically about the same. It’s basically all rooted in Carl Jung’s framework, right? So Ruler archetype would be like Rolex, maybe Mercedes, things like that. How about Apple? Because you know what is very interesting, I came across… I read it in some book that Apple is a seducer.

Kaye Putnam:
Really? Interesting.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah. Yeah. But you said, I think you said that this is a Magician, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Yeah.

Arek Dvornechuck:
And I also, I also – someone said that this is the Creator brand. So what’s your opinion on that?

Kaye Putnam:
Yeah. Apples are really interesting case study. Because if you think back to their famous 1984 commercial, have you seen that one, Arek?

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah, yeah.

Kaye Putnam:
Yeah. So they started out as a Maverick or Rebel. They’re disrupting the status quo. They’re being that you know the anti-Microsoft, essentially. So they started off of there. I would argue that most of their messaging now has a mix between the Magician and the Creator. So they talk a lot about creating tools for creators. And then their actual product design, it almost feels like a spaceship or something Uber modern or Uber future-sque. So that’s where I feel like the Magician really comes into play. They’re giving us what we don’t even know that we need in their products.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. OK, So as you mentioned, if this is a small brand, probably you as the founder, you would have to identify your core archetype and that would be your brand, also brand product and brand archetype, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Exactly.

Arek Dvornechuck:
But if this is like a team of co-founders let’s say, then what do we do? How do we approach that?

Kaye Putnam:
Yes. Then it depends on what the dynamic of the team is. So if you’re all equal players, equal leaders, there’s not one single visionary that’s driving the brand forward, typically, what works best is to have all of the leadership team take the brand quiz. See if you have any overlap and use that as a starting place for your discussion. So you can start to talk about what your brand’s strengths are which are now going to be different than just your personal strengths. So maybe you create an incredibly welcoming community for your clients and you pinpoint that as your primary strength. When you take the brand quiz, you’re then going to be taking it as the brand instead of as yourself. And then like I said, see where you overlap with the team to see if there’s any disagreements or lack of clarity between how you want to show up as a brand and use that to have that – facilitate that conversation about what your top two archetypes should be.

3. Offer Doctor

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So going back to your framework, I know that you gave us an overview of your framework, but I just wanted to ask you a few things about that framework. So the first step is brand character, right? So we identify our archetype if this is a team of a few co-founders, for example. We just see if there is an overlap and we start this way. So in the next step, offer a doctor, right? You mentioned that you know this type is to just make sure that we are matching whatever we offer with something that people actually want. And I think I can relate to that because you know I’ve worked with entrepreneurs also you know think that sometimes they have this great idea but we also need to make sure that this great idea is actually – there is a demand for what they offer, right?

Kaye Putnam:
Right.

Arek Dvornechuck:
So can you just talk to us about the second step and what’s the process of actually finding that overlap?

Kaye Putnam:
Yes, right. So, I mean there’s so many entrepreneurs, bless their hearts, who want to sell you the equivalent of underwater basket weaving because it’s their passion. It’s something that they are incredibly invested in personally. But if there’s not a market for that seam – for that offer, if there’s not value that other people see in it, you’re going to have a really hard time selling it. So we do want to match up what we’re selling to what the market values. And that’s a lot of the offer process is to perhaps test some offers in the beginning. See what the uptake is for different offers. There’s what I like to call the awkward teenager years of business building where you kind of just need to date around and figure out who you are and what you’re going to sell. But then there’s a very specific process that’s very related to building equity in your brand or building value in your brand and it’s that you need to develop a process, a proprietary process or in other words, your own intellectual property that your brand is going to own. So for service-based businesses, this is maybe a little bit more obvious. We have a signature process for getting the results that we get for our clients.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah.

Kaye Putnam:
For products, they might even have some type of intellectual property in terms of how their product is sourced or what ingredients make up the product. And all of that is really important to define and highlight so that, again, you’re not seen as a commodity in the market. You can have above average pricing for what you’re selling.

4. Demand

Arek Dvornechuck:
Totally makes sense. So yeah, so as you mentioned, it’s kind of like we are going towards marketing here. So also, the next step would be demands. So this step is all about attracting clients, right? So here, we need to create like an ecosystem to be able to attract them to our brand then nurture them so they stick around and finally you confer them into happy customers.

Kaye Putnam:
Mm-hmm.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Because I you know, I think I saw it in one of your videos, you have a lot of great contents on YouTube. I just wanted to mention that you know for people to check it out.

Kaye Putnam:
Thank you.

5. Energetic Influence

Arek Dvornechuck:
So yeah, one of those videos, I learned that you know back in the days which is true, I also read that in a book you know and it’s obvious also like brands were just broadcasting the message to attract clients but now, we need to create the whole ecosystem, right? The content everywhere in all brands, there’s a touch point. So can you just talk to us a bit about that?

Kaye Putnam:
A really great, big brand example that’s doing this would be Red Bull. So Red Bull is kind of a mix between the Maverick in the Entertainer brand archetypes if we’re still following along that framework. But they have built this entire ecosystem of content that goes beyond just this product that they’re selling, just beyond this beverage that you can find in convenience stores. So what’s key when you’re building this entire ecosystem is to recognize that there’s three phases. The first one is to attract new people into your orbit so you’re having some type of marketing to cold audiences. And then what’s new and different between the 1950s and now is that we also have a nurture phase. So we have this whole system of creating content so that we can demonstrate our value to the market even before they buy anything from us or even if they don’t but anything from us. In the case of Red Bull, maybe you don’t even drink the stuff but if you’re in that lifestyle if you have that identity, you’re going to be exposed to that brand, through that content ecosystem. And then finally, it’s whatever your sales mechanism is for converting people from passive consumers into paying clients or customers. So maybe that’s a webinar, maybe it’s a sales call, in the case of Red Bull, it’s the – you know cooler in the convenience store. But we need some mechanism to convert people into our paying clients.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Awesome. So yeah, I recommend you guys to check out Kaye’s courses online. I’m going to include links in the description. And so as we are approaching the end of our episode, please let us know how we can find more about you, you know for other creatives who want to learn more from you or from – or for clients who want to work with you, how to get in touch with you and I’ll include those links in the description.

Kaye Putnam:
Absolutely. So for those of you that got your curiosity picked by the brand archetypes, there’s a ton of free resources. There’s a quiz on my site that we mentioned earlier. The Brand Fluency courses, Arek mentioned are basically a treasure trove. There’s 12 different courses, one for each of the archetypes that helps you implement the archetype into your brand in very tangible ways. So that can be a really great starting resource for people who are interested in learning more. And then otherwise, like you mentioned, I’m a good online marketer, so I’m all over the place, YouTube, Instagram, my website, so I’m relatively easy to find.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So just to sum up for our listeners, first, you take the quiz. So Kaye got this awesome quiz on her website that will help you identify your archetype. And then you just can buy the course and learn more about you know she lays out all the crucial information about these archetypes so that you can just use that for your brand, for building your brand.

Kaye Putnam:
Yes, it’s the short cut. It took hundreds of hours per course to put it together all of the insight and inspiration. So yeah, you can benefit from all of that time.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah. It’s very comprehensive. And the quiz is also very comprehensive. So yeah, thanks for coming on the show. I really appreciate that.

Kaye Putnam:
Thank you so much for having me and thanks for geeking out on branding.

Arek Dvornechuck:
So this is it for today’s episode. Make sure to go and check out Kaye’s website and follow her on social media. And you can find all the links on this episode’s page at ebaqdesign.com/podcast/17. So, thanks for joining in and if you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to my podcast for more things on branding, strategy, and design. This is Arek Dvornechuck from Ebaqdesign.



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