Welcome to the first-ever episode in our Video Blog Series, where we sit down with a different team member each week and discuss a topic that they are passionate about and expert in.
Kicking us off this week, our Director of Growth Si Muddell chats to MD Mark Bower about Brand Archetypes. Why is it so important for brands to align themselves with an archetype and how can this drive and impact not only your marketing behaviour, but in fact your entire business strategy?
Watch the full video chat below:
Si Muddell (00:01):
Okay guys. Well, this is the first session that we’ve ever done in this way and on this virtual channels. We’re quite excited by it, we’re going to have a few different subject areas and today’s subject area that Mark and I are going to talk about is brand archetypes. But I guess before we begin, I’m Si, director of growth at Woven and he…
Mark Bower (00:31):
Me. I’m Mark. I’m the managing director at Woven, currently.
Si Muddell (00:37):
And where this came from, Mark, wasn’t it, is you and I, we have many discussions, and debates and obviously we’re talking to clients throughout every day and having some really exciting discussions on these type of topics. I think it was last week, or the week before, we were doing quite a bit of work with some of our clients around brand archetypes and that always brings up a bit of a debate, and then we can open that up in the moment. And really we started having one of those debates for about half an hour and suddenly we both thought, “Hang on a minute. This could make for hopefully interesting listening or reading.” So we decided to think, “Well, why don’t we create a bit of a recorded session going back through some of those subjects and brand archetypes being one of those things?”
Mark Bower (01:29):
Yeah. I think also there’s a lot of knowledge and experience locked up in other people’s heads in the whole team and that was a big thing for me is even I don’t know what some of these guys know and what they’ve worked on, so let alone our clients having access to that. So I think just to do it conversationally, just to find out a bit more about people and their previous experience, and topics that they’re interested in and let them talk about it then I think there’s going to be a benefit for us in terms of getting to know the team, and the skill sets and what people are passionate about. And almost as a secondary benefit, if some of that turns into content that is going to be useful externally for clients or potential clients, then great.
Si Muddell (02:18):
Brilliant. I guess let’s start with what are brand archetypes? Some people out there might not even know or heard that phrase before.
Mark Bower (02:26):
Yeah. I think I first came across the concept… And one thing that I know you know, and everybody at Woven knows, is I read a lot. I read a lot books. I’ve always been like that. It’s not something I do just professionally, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I’ve just got one of those brains that likes to have new stuff put into it on a frequent basis and I get uncomfortable if I’m not learning things, weirdly. I know some people have that with exercise and unfortunately that never quite worked for me. For me, I’ve got to exercise my brain, otherwise starts to misbehave.
Mark Bower (03:06):
So one of the things that I read, I don’t think I was introduced it, it probably came up on an Amazon list, “You should read this because you’ve read tons of other stuff.” And it was a book called The Hero And The Outlaw, which is I think pretty much the foundational book on this topic, which was written probably getting on for 20 years ago now by some senior executives. I can’t at the moment remember the name of the authors, but that shows that I’m not prepared for this interview very well, but we can fill that back in on the notes for people, if we’re going to do that sort of thing. But it is The Hero and the Outlaw, and it had a cool picture of someone fighting a dragon on the front and it’s about 300 or 400 pages, it’s quite a chunky tome.
Mark Bower (03:55):
There was a lot of psychology in there and this theory was essentially taking the idea of Jungian archetypes. So in other words, these archetypal stories that have existed for pretty much the whole of human history, stories of heroes, and outlaws, and jesters and all this kind of stuff. So Jung developed this idea of archetypes, the fact that these things echo in our subconscious, they exist almost, have a life of their own. So, we all recognize these characters instinctively because they are the basis of all storytelling throughout time.
Mark Bower (04:33):
So what these guys have done is effectively said, “Hmm, isn’t interesting that certain brands seem to align themselves…” Probably unconsciously at that point in time, no one had sat down and said, “What if I align my brand to a Jungian archetype.” I don’t think anyone had that thought, I think that’s the genius thought at the heart of this is. But empirically, when you look at some of the brands that they quote, like Coca Cola or Volvo, these sort of brands, they really do embody really, really powerful archetypal characters. And these guys were just curious, is this a factor in their success? Is this a factor that explains why they resonate so well with people, and people just feel immediately drawn to this brand instead of this brand because it just resonates to me in a way that’s really easy to understand, and it’s embedded in our psychology and our subconscious?
Mark Bower (05:29):
So that’s the theory in a nutshell, is what if you did that deliberately? What if you took a look at who you are as a brand, what you believe in, the audience you serve, what drives your behavior and what if you try and figure out which of these 12, as it turns out, archetypes you most closely resemble or align to? And then what you do is potentially double down on that as a business and say, “Okay, let’s not have spurious, blurry conversations and creative going here and creative going there, we can use this as a north star for the business.” This is the story we want to tell, this is the archetype or character we want to embody, and then use that as a filter for all of your marketing activity. In fact, all of your thinking. So it could impact everything you do as a business, product choice, product development, sectors you enter, just your entire behavior of a business.
Mark Bower (06:23):
So, it’s marketing at the very deepest level. It becomes what you do as a business, if you go the whole hog. And that’s why we love talking to people about it because it’s deep, it goes right to the heart of who you are as a business and it can inform strategy, not just marketing strategy, but your development strategy.
Si Muddell (06:44):
And do you think brand opportunity is fundamentally flawed if a business doesn’t understand their archetype?
Mark Bower (06:56):
I think some people seem to do this instinctively, they’ll land on it instinctively without understanding that they’ve done it. So if you’re fortunate that you have built a brand that does align in a way to an archetype, you’d probably find that brand is more successful than a brand that didn’t do that. It might not even have been conscious. So I think it’s possible to do it without having a very clear vision of your archetype, but it’s a bit like rocket fuel. Isn’t it? These things when we’ve applied them to businesses and we’ve helped them, I think it’s that thing about focus. People always talk about focus in marketing and it’s like, “You need to say one thing, one simple thing, over and over again.” And I think that’s what the archetype allows people to do is just to constantly have that north star. “Should we go this way? Should we go this way? Should our messaging sound like this, or should it sound like that? No, this is the direction of travel.”
Mark Bower (07:52):
So, I think it does significantly amplify everything that you do from that point forward. So, I think it’s one of the most powerful tools I’ve come across in 20 years. It’s why we’re still talking about it as passionately 20 years later as we were when we first discovered it.
Si Muddell (08:10):
I was really excited about probably three, four weeks ago, Tim Ferriss, who literally runs one of the most successful podcasts globally, brilliant podcast for anyone who wants to understand more about what makes business leaders and entrepreneurs tick, but anyway, he had an episode which was a recording from 1988 with Joseph Campbell. Can you tell us a bit about Joseph Campbell and how he’s really influenced, not obviously just marketing, but generally? Like George Lucas in the movies’ sector, and with music and everything.
Mark Bower (08:46):
Yeah, it’s a great, great question. I did go back and listen to that episode of Tim Ferriss, as you know I’m a big Tim Ferriss fan anyway, but I hadn’t come across those interviews before.
Mark Bower (08:59):
Joseph Campbell, again, don’t know too much of his backstory other than he was a leading academic in the sector and his real specialism was really mythology. Mythological stories and their impact almost on society and life today. What can we learn from going back? How did people formulate these myths? What was the purpose of these myths? What stories were they trying to express? And again, it’s fascinating deep stuff. He looked at ancient art, he looked at the religions of the world, he looked at Buddhism, all these things that it feels like there’s again, common stories that all of these people are trying to tell, which again, it’s back to these archetypal characters that exist in all these, whether it’s a religious story or some secular, spiritual story.
Mark Bower (09:54):
And again, he started to [inaudible 00:09:55] his language again. His famous book, I think the most famous book he wrote on the topic was called, The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Again-
Mark Bower (10:03):
And the topic was called The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Again, I’ve read that off the back of reading the archetypes book, and that’s what led me down that rabbit hole. And again, really what he’s saying is, “Look, there’s only one common story.” There is one story and it is that hero’s journey. You leave the safety of your previous environment. You move into a realm of the unknown. You have all kinds of adventures and mishaps and dangers and dragons to slay, whether they’re internal, mental dragons or external dragons in the world. And then you return a different person and you bring your learnings back to society for the benefit of society. And that is effectively the hero’s journey. And that’s pretty much the plot of every story.
Si Muddell (10:45):
Yeah, it is. Again, echoed in the myths and echoed in the Greek great classics of the Odyssey and the Iliad and all that kind of stuff. It’s all the same story. And the characters are almost interchangeable, in some sense. We talk a lot though, in our workshops about, you take the plot of Harry Potter and you take the plot of Star Wars and you can put those two plots almost point for point next to each other, swap the characters out. Swap Luke Skywalker out for Harry Potter. It’s the same story. So, that’s Joseph Campbell and again, if you really, really want to get into this stuff, then Joseph Campbell has written many, many books on this topic. And as I say, he was a phenomenal thinker and it’s pretty dense stuff. It’s hard going, he is an academic, and he does go really, really deep on this stuff, which is why I think the Tim Ferriss, what are they like 20, 30 minute interviews?
Si Muddell (11:38):
They’re an hour, actually. I think the original was recorded in 1988. I think it was six, one-hour episodes.
Mark Bower (11:47):
Si Muddell (11:48):
But that one was the one hour. It was the first, it was the hero. Wasn’t it?
Mark Bower (11:52):
It was a bit more digestible. Wasn’t it? Because you’ve got a guy interviewing him in this manner to get him to explain some of the stuff.
Si Muddell (12:00):
I don’t know, it blew my mind. Like you, I love mythology. I love Greek mythology. I’ve read Mythos by Stephen Fry and I’ve read quite a lot of… My wife is half Norwegian, so I’ve read a lot of Nordic children’s stories to my children and we’ve got a lot of that in the house. And I think he’s really like Jackanory or he’s really… you could listen to him forever, if you’re into that type of thing.
Mark Bower (12:28):
They’re like the knowledge and the anecdotes and that… Oh, and there’s the story that the inuitive so-and-so tell and it’s just that he knows the whole story end-to-end, but he’s spent his entire life studying this stuff.
Si Muddell (12:39):
And the thing that blew my mind is like you just said there, the interchangeable nature of these stories. He’s talking about some far East mystic story and he’s overlaying it with Nordic mythology and Greek mythology and Easter Island mythology. And the stories do follow a typical ingredient.
Mark Bower (13:01):
Yeah. No, it’s great stuff. And clearly again, if it sounds a bit hocus-pocus and people could, “Brand that, brand the archetypes, it sounds a bit, you know, marketing sort of bull shit type stuff,” but, if these are as Young would say, “These are sort of grooves that are carved into our psyche, we can’t help but run down these rails,” because it’s part of who we are for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. So, if you got a brand that aligns with some of these grooves, that’s probably going to be quite a powerful outcome.
Si Muddell (13:37):
Well, I think so because pretty much every brand on the planet has their values and that’s quite known. And I think that the personality side of it is like you say, even if brands haven’t forcibly or actively worked on what their brand archetype is by definition, they have one, and probably where some brands tend to go wrong sometimes is they don’t just have one, they have multiple ones. And so therefore there’s a real inconsistent message, isn’t there? And my take on it is, the more consistent that something is across all touch points, the message is consistent, they can fill the [crosstalk 00:04:18].
Mark Bower (14:17):
Sorry. I was just going to add to that. It’s what people doing all the time, as you know, is we see people working at a fairly surface level. So they might create values and typical brand values things like honesty, integrity, and all these kinds of things. And that’s great, that’s a sense of value, but it doesn’t actually point you in a particular direction. So I would say that this archetypal stuff is actually a layer down from that, it almost comes before the values. So, if you happen to align as a slightly jester style brand that wants to provoke and this, then that might change what sort of values you embody has a business. You would have to put things like fun and provocation onto the agenda from a values’ perspective.
Mark Bower (15:04):
And you’d have to hire people that wanted to be like that. It is definitely the core personality of the business. I think it’s like if the business was a person, classic marketing thing, what sort of person are you? And that’s really where the archetype stuff lives in, and then everything else comes from that, your behaviors, your tone of voice, the things you’re interested in doing or not.
Si Muddell (15:27):
Mark Bower (15:28):
It really is, who are you? Which is why it’s so exciting to get in a room with almost always ends up being a C-Suite conversation. Almost always ends up being at least marketing director, but quite often, founders, CEOs, this is the stuff that they’re the most interested in because it’s what kind of company are you trying to build? What are you really trying to do here?
Si Muddell (15:50):
And can you give us some examples of brands that fit inside a certain archetype? So I know Nike being the hero, Harley Davidson being the outlaw.
Mark Bower (16:02):
Yeah. Yeah. Some of these are, again, a lot of those guys, because this conversation hadn’t even started when they created those brands, as I say, they didn’t set out to say, “I’m going to create a hero brand.” But Nike, Just do it. And the fact that it’s called Nike, which is the Greek goddess of victory, that Phil Knight, when he went on his travels as a young man, saw the temple of Nike in Greece and always had that in the back of his mind somewhere. It was all aligned, he knew what he was doing, but he just didn’t have the label of, “I’m going to create an archetype of a hero.” Nike’s the classic poster child, isn’t it, for a hero brand? But you can see there that so much aligns behind that in terms of the photography and the things they celebrate, the Michael Jordans. It’s heroes, and they make their audience heroes as well.
Mark Bower (16:57):
The people taking a knee for Black Lives Matter, all this stuff, they will put them on an ad, and go, “These people are about changing the world.” They’re the ones going to charge into battle. They’re the ones who are going to go out and change the world and come back a different person and yeah [inaudible 00:17:14] with the rest of the community. That’s what a hero does. And then you’ve got people, as you say, Harley’s a really, really obvious outlaw brand. Again, they didn’t have the technology to do it on purpose, but they created a brand, which is, I think still to this day, pretty much the only brand where their audience regularly tattoo it onto their bodies.
Si Muddell (17:36):
Mark Bower (17:38):
Loyalty. Do you know what I mean?
Si Muddell (17:40):
Mark Bower (17:41):
People tattoo their logo onto their bodies.
Si Muddell (17:46):
That’s great loyalty, isn’t it?
Mark Bower (17:48):
Pretty good brand, and again, look at the clothing that goes with it, look at the bikes, look at everything about that brand just screams non-conformist. Ironically to such an extent that it is now almost a cliche, it’s such a cliche that people sometimes feel like, “Oh, maybe it’s a bit too much.” And they want to look at a different brand that has a slightly different personality, because maybe I’m not quite as much of a rebel. And maybe I don’t want to just go around putting the middle finger up to everybody. So these things are so powerful that they can, as much as they attract people, they repel people.
Si Muddell (18:25):
Mark Bower (18:26):
But that’s all about positioning, isn’t it? A well-positioned brand should repel people as much as it attracts people.
Si Muddell (18:32):
And I know we’ve obviously undertaken, and we’re currently undertaking brand archetype work for our clients. But think maybe a good one to talk through is when you went through that process for Woven.
Mark Bower (18:47):
Yeah. Yeah. That was a light bulb that was a bit slower to go off than it should have been. Why don’t we do this for ourselves?
Si Muddell (18:55):
That’s the cobbled shoes, right?
Mark Bower (18:59):
[crosstalk 00:18:59] yeah cobbled shoes. So, we’re going around telling people how powerful this is. And we were running really successful things. And people generally come out of these processes. I think they go in confused and skeptical. They spend most of the time during the process, a bit confused and skeptical, and then come out of it really, really passionate and energized when it lands and it connects together. So we’d done that. We’d seen what amazing effect it could have in terms of pulling teams together behind the vision. And really, it just feels like you suddenly get all this juice and energy that’s released.
Si Muddell (19:32):
Mark Bower (19:33):
It’s like bang! We know exactly what we’re doing. It just answers so many questions. So yeah. Why don’t we do that for our own business, long overdue. So we did it. We did the same process, we applied it to ourselves as best we could with as much objectivity as we could. We opened it up to everybody in the business. We talked about our values. We talked about what we really believe in, and we ended up as you often do with this process, we ended up with three or four potential archetypes.
Mark Bower (20:02):
… process. We ended up with three or four potential archetypes in the running. And I think this is where it becomes almost an art rather than a science, because you often find, you can end up with, we could be this and we could be that. And we could be that. And we probably could have been any of those three or four things because I think one of them was the sage, which is all about imparting knowledge. There was sort of the magician, which is about transformation and we often transform things for people and our customers. This is a great example of how this conversation goes, because they’re all very obvious things for a creative agency to be. And even like an innovative brand, we go in, we create new strategies, we innovate, we help people create new products, new brands. We could be an innovator.
Mark Bower (20:42):
And that is good, healthy debate around this. That’s four of the 12, so there’s some things we knew we weren’t very obviously. But I think the three or four that we got down to in the end, there was very good arguments for all of those things. And this is the subtlety and we find this with clients as well. And I think what you’ve got to do then is you just got to keep peeling back and peeling back and going, “Well, we do do that. And that is an output for us. And it’s a product or it’s a service, but is it what we believe? Is it why we’re in the game in the first place?” And we peel back and peel back and peel back. And we settled on something, which is, I think, fairly unique in our sector, which is always a useful place to be. It’s very easy to be a creative brand when you’re a creative agency. It’s easy to be a sage when you’re a consultancy. All those things are really obvious and they might be right, but they don’t really differentiate you.
Mark Bower (21:31):
And what we realized is that all the kind of best experiences that we’d have collectively are they’re really human experiences and they’re relationship experiences. And ultimately, we realized that we get our kick from building relationships and getting really good personal feedback. We have to innovate, we have to impart knowledge, we have to create, we have to do all these things. But the thing we’re trying to do at our heart is we just want to make people happy and we want to create a real impact on that person and we’re going to create it via the business. But ultimately we want that person to sit in front of us and say, “Guys, we absolutely love working with you. We love the people. We love the service. You make us happy. You produce results.” And that we realized that that was basically the lover archetype.
Mark Bower (22:26):
And then we looked at the sector we work in and we realized it’s high net worth. And we looked at our logo and our creative style, and we put that amongst a bunch of other brands that operate in that lover sector. And that’s when it all clicked and we went, “We just look that way.” And we went back and read on the website, on the first page of our website, it talks about love at first sight to partners for life. We’d actually written that line the year before we did this exercise, and it’s boom, there’s another example of it’s actually acting the behaviors out before we’d actually gone and academically done the research.
Si Muddell (23:03):
And I think that resonated for me when I joined back in February 2020. And I think it’s also, when we look at the percentage of our clients that are retained, it’s a very, very high percentage. Isn’t it? And the tenure of those clients, we’re talking years, not months and not single digit in terms of projects. And I think that for us, we’ve been planning a lot for next year recently and delivering wow and being very focused on over-servicing our clients, it’s still sort of, the DNA is spearheading that conversation. And it’s absolutely aligning to the archetype, doesn’t it?
Mark Bower (23:48):
Well, we literally said, didn’t we, “Let’s go back to the archetype. Let’s go back to the lover and let’s do what we said we were in this for. Let’s not spend next year running around trying to win as much new business as possible. Let’s put our existing relationships first.” And we’re not just saying this as an advert for Woven. That’s not what this has turned into. Let’s not let it turn into that. But it is an example of how you might change your business strategy and even your business plan as a result of these kind of conversations, because that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re talking about, are we hiring new business people or are we actually hiring more account service people? And that’s a complete change. It’s inward-looking as opposed to outward-looking in one sense. But yeah, let’s double down on the service. Let’s double down on the relationship. Let’s double down on deliver wow. Let’s make these people so bowled over and enamored that we get more of those letters like we get occasionally saying, “You guys are the best agency we have ever worked with.” And that’s what we want, isn’t it?
Si Muddell (24:49):
Mark Bower (24:51):
And to bring that back to archetypes. We could do that through any sort of archetype in a way. If we wanted to be a purer consultancy and just be the best knowledge delivery mechanism for our clients, then that’s what the sage would be. And that’s why that’s not what we are. That’s not the way we’re going to get to where we want to be in this relationship with them.
Si Muddell (25:11):
Two quick questions. I was just reading up on not the questions, but the background. In terms of what brand archetype would you say Apple is? And before you say creator, to give other people the view, the creator tends to be Adobe, GoPro and Apple often gets put into the creator. But is Apple the outlaw? Came in back in Steve Jobs back in 1984. Think different campaign and look how they’ve just done their own thing. They’ve made it closed. What would you say on that?
Mark Bower (25:50):
That is a very good question actually, because I’ve sat in a few workshops on archetypes. And as you say, Apple’s always one brand that crops up and it’s always presented as either an innovator or a creator. Again, it’s not an exact science, so it doesn’t really matter really what the answer is to a certain extent. But I mean, there’s a very good argument that Apple are a ruler brand, when you look at it, the way they behave. Because if you think about Steve Jobs and Apple is almost like an extension of Steve Jobs’ personality as a lot of these businesses are. I mean, Steve Jobs is the guy that invented a closed system. “Nobody can get into my system. You can’t even have a screwdriver.” He’s the guy who wouldn’t interfix with any other product on the planet. It’s like, it’s got to be Apple. It’s a completely closed ecosystem. So there’s a lot of-
Si Muddell (26:43):
It’s very exclusive.
Mark Bower (26:45):
It’s very exclusive, it’s high-end. So there’s a big argument for ruler. There’s a lot of ruler. And if you think of Apple’s branding as well, it’s very austere, it’s completely white. It’s very austere, just that little black Apple. Again, that feels very rulery to me. It’s not brightly colored. It’s not garish in any way. But yeah, as I say, they do come up, and I’m not saying they are a ruler, but I’m just saying, this is how you’ve got to dig and dig and dig and-
Si Muddell (27:14):
The debates that happen.
Mark Bower (27:15):
Yeah. And these are the kind of debates. I mean, clearly, they’re an incredibly creative business and they’re involved in creative industries and the tools are all about creating. I go back to what drives the business. And ultimately it’s, I remember I read the Jobs Biography multiple times and I’ve watched the film about 30 times because it’s just my favorite film and I’m a massive Steve Jobs nerd. And he talked about a bicycle for the mind. He understood what personal computers could be in terms of tools. In terms of human development, they would allow us to do things we couldn’t do before. In the film he says, “The human being’s one of the least efficient animals on the planet. We can’t run, we’re just hopeless, we can’t swim, but give us a bicycle and we become the most efficient animal on the planet.” And he described computers as a bicycle for the mind, which is phenomenal. I love the idea.
Mark Bower (28:13):
So again, what does that mean from an archetypal point of view? And again, he said, he wanted to put a dent in the universe. This is the level of significance. That’s what drove Apple. But as you say, massively, outlaw-ish. Think different.
Si Muddell (28:27):
Yeah, massively so
Mark Bower (28:28):
It’s like that is… There’s a badge there that says think different. So you’ve got ruler, you’ve got outlaw, you’ve got creator, innovator.
Si Muddell (28:39):
And certainly his story, when he came back after being sacked, it was a big fuck you going out there, wasn’t it?
Mark Bower (28:46):
Yeah. “I will come back, but you’ve got to fire the entire [inaudible 00:08:49], otherwise I’m not even entertaining it.” And again, you’ve got to sort of tease all these things out. So I think rather than give it a really sort of a simplistic answer, I would say there, I’m probably quite confused about what Apple is as an archetype, and I’d probably have to get the books out and think about it for days on end and debate it with people. And eventually we’d sort of go, “Yeah, but it’s not that. Maybe they’re a bit more of that.” And this is always the way. There’s always three or four in the mix. And you’ve got to try…
Mark Bower (29:17):
I haven’t actually been able to talk to Steve Jobs, which obviously we can’t. Or even some of the sort of key people at Apple and say, “Well, what’s driving the business today?” Because again, they can change over time and it is all about what’s driving it. So I can’t answer that unfortunately.
Si Muddell (29:34):
Another quick question that I thought was just interesting was I saw that Heinz is actually in the caregiver archetype.
Mark Bower (29:44):
Si Muddell (29:44):
The words that I’d seen, it was sort of a quasi medicinal, nourishing type brand. [crosstalk 00:29:51]. I thought that was quite interesting.
Mark Bower (29:53):
Yeah. It’s really interesting when you get brands. That’s why I love a good juxtaposition. Everybody knows that. And I love something unexpected in this and-
Mark Bower (30:02):
I love something unexpected in this and to see brands like Heinz turn up as a caregiver, but it’s back to that thing about chicken soup. What was more comforting when you were ill as a child?
Si Muddell (30:14):
Mark Bower (30:15):
You had a bowl of soup. You had a bowl of chicken soup or a bowl of tomato soup.
Si Muddell (30:21):
Yeah, for sure. [crosstalk 00:00:21]. Yeah.
Mark Bower (30:22):
It’s like, that’s what that brand was always about, in the 57 varieties and all this sort of no sugar things that they’ve done. It was definitely about almost like being wrapped in a blanket when you’re a kid.
Si Muddell (30:35):
Mark Bower (30:35):
That’s I think what the heart of that business is, yeah. It’s fascinating.
Si Muddell (30:40):
It’s really fascinating, I guess, to end, because my 30 minute timer’s gone off. If somebody’s watching this and they would like to go down the route and explore their archetypes, what’s the process typically look like for that?
Mark Bower (30:56):
Well, if you’re going to do it with someone like us-
Si Muddell (30:59):
That’s kind of what I meant.
Mark Bower (31:00):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You’re talking to someone who just buys every book on the topic and sort of gets reading. And actually that’s not a bad idea though because we’d like people to come in, not necessarily cold. We’d like people to understand what the process is because it is. It’s a bit like being pushed into a very cold swimming pool if you walk into this process with no prior knowledge of archetypes or Joseph Campbell or Jung or anything, like, “What the hell are these people talking about?”
Mark Bower (31:27):
So a little bit of awareness like this video or this conversation would be a great primer in terms of what you’re going to get yourself into. Maybe some of that terminology then wouldn’t be quite such a shock because it can, why are we talking about Jung and all these kinds of myths and stuff? So that’s a bit of a weird one for people. So I think some way of cushioning the blow is good because it is deep stuff.
Mark Bower (31:51):
And then really, what we typically do is obviously once we’ve explained what this thing is, and we’ve shown people what the archetypes are and we take them through a process like we’ve just done showing how there could be a debate around archetypes, like the Apple conversation or some of the things are very obvious, like Harley, et cetera. And then we’d run a series of workshop type questionnaires with people, generally, as many of the senior people as we can get, because we want to get to the heart and soul of the business. What’s driving this business for?
Mark Bower (32:21):
And again, to use a North Star analogy. It’s not really how you have been, although that can give you lots of clues. So you can find clues in your existing behavior. You might find clues in your existing product set and the way you do things. But actually it’s more about where do you want to go? People are often frustrated about their businesses, “Oh, we’re this, but we wish we were that.” And everybody’s got frustrations in their business. So what we actually do is say, “Okay, well, let’s use that almost like evidence if we were building a case, but really you need to tell us about you as a management team and you need to tell us about your ambitions as a business and what do you care about?”
Mark Bower (33:02):
Then we’d sort of try and blend all of that stuff together. We’ll often disappear for a little bit at that point and go back to the books, get the books out, have a big debate internally. And usually we do a version of what we were just doing with the Apple stuff, don’t we? We get a bunch of people that know this process and creative people in a room. We kick it around and try and put various hypotheses and then try and break them. So, okay, apple’s the ruler. I think they’re the ruler. And then I might have five people telling me why they aren’t the ruler. It’s kind of that process. And I think that’s very difficult to do for yourself. That’s why it’s useful to have someone like us to do that.
Mark Bower (33:39):
And then we typically put sort of that story all back together. So we take that evidence, we take all that thinking, all that debate, we put it all back together and then we present it to people in almost like a narrative form. So we can take them from, “This is what you told us. This is what we’ve learned. This is what we’ve gone off and thought about. We thought this, but you aren’t that for these reasons. We thought this, you probably aren’t that for these reasons. And we think you’re this.” And usually that might be something that people go, “Ooh, that’s really interesting.” And that’s sort of the effect we’re hoping for really.
Si Muddell (34:13):
And if that resonates, as it always does, to be honest at that point in time, what are the ramifications then for the brand if what we’re saying is different to what they currently are?
Mark Bower (34:25):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is like, again, as you say, if you’re talking about five, 10 year vision, you’re talking about strategy and you’re talking about who do you hire next? I mean, the ramifications are absolutely enormous. This could change your product strategy. It could change your forecast for the next five to 10 years. So that’s why it’s a C-suite task. There’s no use doing this with people that can’t pull any of those leavers because it’s just pointless. You won’t get the impact on the business.
Mark Bower (34:53):
So if you get a CEO or a board that buy into this, they can start making really serious changes at whatever pace they’re able to make them. So we’ve got clients, big clients with big businesses that have been affected that way, and they start to say, “Okay, well, our sustainability program that we were sort of bubbling away on the back burner, actually, that’s so core to us as a brand. That is something we should be massively focusing on.” And they might make a strategic decision to fund that and get that program front and center. They might change their marketing approach to a voice overnight. They might start running different creative.
Mark Bower (35:35):
You can test all of these things, but realistically I think if you bought into the archetype and you’re going to believe in it, then it is that thing about consistency. We need to start moving in this direction. And it doesn’t mean you have to throw everything in the bin overnight, because that’s just not practical, but you have to start potentially turning the oil tanker. If you’re a small business and a new business, you’re in a speedboat and you can turn it overnight and you can start doing stuff tomorrow. If you’re a £5 billion organization, you’re going to have to take a little bit more time. But our advice is just to say, “Look, let’s make a plan. Let’s look at what do the next six to 12 months look like off the back of this conversation and how do we start moving you more in alignment with what we’ve all just agreed, is how you want to present yourself.”
Si Muddell (36:21):
Cool. Well, we’ve done 46 minutes.
Mark Bower (36:26):
Wow. I’ve got about another 10 hours if you’re ready, if you want to just go on.
Si Muddell (36:30):
But everyone listening or reading, we hope you found that useful. We’ll put some links of some of the books and the podcasts and videos and stuff on YouTube that we find interesting. We’re always sharing stuff internally [inaudible 00:00:36:46]. If you are considering this or you’ve never heard about it, and now you are considering it, go away and have a little read or have a watch or have a listen to this kind of stuff, because it is super useful, super interesting. And it’s massively valuable for brands ensuring that they’ve got consistency.
Mark Bower (37:03):
It’s all powerful, like you say. 20 years of doing this, this is probably one of two tools that I would say are the most powerful tools that I’ve come across. I won’t say what the other one is because maybe we could do another podcast on that.
Si Muddell (37:13):
That’s a good idea. So. Cool. All right, well I’ll stop the recording.
Mark Bower (37:18):
Interested in chatting to us about discovering your brand archetype and how you can apply this to drive your business forward? We’d love to hear from you.