Use Brand Archetypes to Build Brands that Grab Attention

Written by Karla Jo Helms, JoTo PR

You’ve likely heard that half of all small businesses in the US fail within four years of launching, or some variation of that statistic. Building a business is tough no matter how you slice it. If there’s one thing that spells doom for new startups, however, it’s poor marketing. In fact, bad marketing and sales practices are the reason why 14% of startups fail.

Unfortunately, many startups just don’t know how to grab people’s attention – and keep it. They may have a great product or service, but don’t know the right way to pitch it – or even have a cohesive brand built around that topic.

How do you capture someone’s attention, and keep it, in today’s digital landscape? Tell a good story. 55% of professionals say that engaging content piques their interest and keeps them hooked and coming back for more. That’s why U.S. companies use content marketing in their overall brand strategy. People enjoy a good story and appreciate the value they can take away from one.

How do you capture someone’s attention, and keep it, in today’s digital landscape?

Tell a good story.

There are few better ways to communicate with the public about your product or business than through stories. You just need to be sure that you’re telling the right ones – that you’re building a brand around the customers’ needs, as well as demonstrating that you’re the solution to those needs.

I’ve found that many new businesses without proper messaging are guilty of talking too much about themselves or their products’ features and benefits, without ever taking the time to explain to their audience how they can help them. Instead of hooking people in and convincing them to buy, they’re just being tuned out.

Unfortunately, many startups just don’t know how to grab people’s attention – and keep it. They may have a great product or service, but don’t know the right way to pitch it – or even have a cohesive brand built around that topic.

Good marketing requires stepping back and viewing the brand through your customers’ eyes. You see things very differently from how your potential customers see them, and if you’re simply promoting your product in terms of features, you’re likely missing the reason people are looking for you or your product in the first place.

On a recent episode of If You Market podcast, our guest Ryan O’Hara – VP of Growth and Marketing at LeadIQ – suggested that businesses use brand archetypes to clearly define their brands, in line with the problems their customers are looking to solve.

Chances are you’re familiar with the 12 brand archetypes, though you may not use them often. Each archetype represents a specific personality that companies use to frame and define their brand – a personality that resonates with their customers. The trick is finding one that best taps into and addresses your customers’ emotional needs, as well as their business needs.

Let’s say you position your brand as a Magician. The magician’s goal is to make other people’s dreams come true. Your entire brand identity is built around helping customers transform their lives – and your content needs to reflect that.

Disney, of course, is a classic example of branding with the magician archetype. Their Magic Kingdom is “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” after all, and they’ve spent decades crafting their image as the place where dreams come true. Look at all their commercials and PR—it’s all about telling that story.

Another popular brand archetype is the Outlaw, who values breaking the rules and overturning the status quo. You’ve likely seen Apple referred to as an outlaw, thanks to how they completely reshaped the way we see computers.

Pick one of these archetypes and commit to it. From there, all storytelling and content can be tailored to help frame your brand squarely within the archetype. Doing so helps people get a clearer, more defined image of the business. The more defined your brand, the more you stand out from competitors, and the more people are motivated to do business with you – as they see you can solve their problems.

Archetypes are just as useful in PR, too – for how PR agencies present their clients as well as how they present themselves.  PR is all about building goodwill with audiences to make them more interested and comfortable in doing business with you. Using archetypes to angle how that brand is covered in the media will go a long way in building its reputation and goodwill. If you’re aiming to build a brand’s reputation as a thought leader, for example, you might want to position that brand as a sage – through quality content and expert advice. But not all sages are thought-leaders. Sometimes rebels are.

You can use archetypes to frame how you market yourself as a PR agency, too. Showing potential clients that you’re a reliable PR expert is just as important to your success as how you position the client to the public is to theirs. Maybe you’re a hero – determined to overcome any obstacles that could hold their brand back. Or maybe you’re a creator, insisting on technical perfection of your craft. (Personally, I’m partial to the Rebel, who disrupts the traditional PR world by ditching what doesn’t work in favor of cutting-edge tactics).

If you’re aiming to build a brand’s reputation as a thought leader, for example, you might want to position that brand as a sage – through quality content and expert advice. But not all sages are thought-leaders. Sometimes rebels are.

In the end, both marketing and PR are there to build trust and relationships, both of which involve being in it for the long haul. Only then will customers and people turn to a brand as a solution to their problems. By using brand archetypes, startups can have a clear structure for presenting themselves cohesively – a solid foundation for everything from content and media strategy to how to they prospect clients.

About Karla: 

Karla Jo Helms is the Chief Evangelist and Anti-PR Strategist for JoTo PR.  Karla Jo learned firsthand how unforgiving business can be when millions of dollars are on the line—and how the control of public opinion often determines whether one company is happily chosen or another is brutally rejected.  Karla Jo has patterned her agency on the perfect balance of crisis management, entrepreneurial insight and proven public relations experience. Helms speaks globally on public relations, how the PR industry itself has lost its way and how, in the right hands, corporations can harness the power of PR to drive markets and impact market perception.