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Authentic Archetypal Branding

Dr. Carol S. Pearson, coauthor of the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® instrument, is an internationally recognized scholar and well-known author of numerous books, among them the bestselling The Hero Within, as well as Awakening the Heroes Within, The Hero and the Outlaw, and Magic At Work. Awakening the Heroes Within provided the foundational theory set from which the PMAI® assessment initially was developed, augmented by analyses of data from fifteen years of PMAI results.
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After Awakening the Heroes Within (1991) was published, I began to recognize the archetypes I wrote about being used in advertisements. I was aware that too many individuals and organizations focus on promoting an image of themselves unrelated to what they genuinely care about and value. When there is a large gap between the real self and what we are trying to convince the world we are, the result is, at best, a shallow and empty life. Then the phone rang.  It was Margaret Mark, Executive Vice President of Young & Rubicam, inviting me to advise the agency about archetypes in branding.

Jungian analysts help their clients connect with their deeper selves through the individuation process, often by identifying an archetype that supports their authenticity. When psychological healing has occurred and a connection between the unconscious and conscious mind had been established, the next step in Jungian analysis is often to “polish the personae,” which involves developing an authentic personality that puts a client’s best self forward.

I recognized that authentic branding through agencies could apply this Jungian process to organizations, especially those that want to stand for something deeper than just profit. Beginning with growing self-awareness, the organization comes to know itself in a new way. Archetypes are initially unconscious and are then endorsed by conscious reflection. It is possible to work with an organization to uncover the archetype that is authentically present and genuinely bonds the people in it together. This allows them to deliver on the branding promise automatically and, thus, consistently, because the organization offers to the world what those involved are genuinely motivated to provide.

I visited Young & Rubicam to share my ideas on how to work with archetypes. Sometime after that, Margaret told me she was going to write a book about archetypal branding that used the system from Awakening the Heroes Within. Would I co-write it with her? Her primary focus was and is to create iconic brands that encouraged positive archetypal expressions in our culture. Mine was and is to support authentic health and wholeness in organizations, so that they provide genuine meaning internally as well as externally. We recognized that our goals were complementary. Margaret and I then wrote, The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes (2001), a book that has had a major impact on the branding world.

The PMAI® can be utilized in the branding process in many ways, but here are a few:
  • Individual branding for sole practitioners or for people within organizations who want their contributions to be valued and their value to be recognized
  • Small businesses, nonprofits, advocacy groups, and mission-driven for-profits in clarifying their true values rather than the typical ones used in many value statements
  • Start-ups and growing entrepreneurial enterprises to discover their driving archetypes and assist employees to stay true to founding archetypal values
Archetypes, when embodied, are like lighthouses, attracting those who want the values and tangible benefits offered by your products or services.  If you imagine your enterprise living its archetypal story, then everything you offer can support the good of those you serve.   Ideally, what you offer provides key elements that help customers/clients live their version of your archetype in a successful way.

Overall, fidelity to a positive archetypal promise can draw in potential customers, clients, and job seekers to you and your enterprise, promote employee and customer loyalty, and allow you to consistently deliver on your branding promise, mission, and purpose.


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