3 Powerful Ways to Use Archetypes in Your Business


THE BIG IDEA: Archetypes are a powerful and underused tool business leaders can leverage to gain market dominance, improve customer loyalty, and build stronger organizations.


Archetypes are the secret weapon of an elite group of businesses.

Archetypes operate silently, below the surface, completely out of view of our awareness—until we shine a light on them and begin working with them in conscious and productive ways.

Here are three powerful ways business leaders can use archetypes to grow their business:

#1: Deploy Effective Advertising

Archetypes can be used by savvy business leaders, marketers, brand builders, and advertisers to associate their brands to specific archetypal images that reside in their customer’s mind.

This is unquestionably a powerful use of archetypes that every business looking for a competitive edge should employ.

The use of archetypes generally stops here, but the value of archetypes goes much deeper.

Archetypes have two additional fundamental uses that are more relevant to chief executives than any other leadership role.

#2: Uncover Penetrating Consumer Insights

Archetypes can be used to better understand your customers at a significantly deeper level.

When you know the archetypes that your customers associate to your brand, you can explore the nature of these archetypes through a process psychologists call amplification.

An archetype is amplified through mythological stories, fairy tales, and other associations to bring to life the emotions, drives, aspirations, and tensions your customers are experiencing (on a largely unconscious level).

Let’s say you figure out that one of your business’s archetypes is the Caregiver. When you think of a caregiver, what qualities come to mind? Perhaps altruism, patience, empathy, and compassion.

Which characters personify the caregiver in films? Mary Poppins. Mrs. Doubtfire. What additional qualities or attributes do these characters exhibit?

This process of amplification can provide a depth of customer insights that transcends any form of big data.

These insights can highlight specific actions you can take to move your business closer to the hearts and minds of your customers.

#3: Build a Thriving Corporate Culture

Finally, when you discover your business’s archetypes, you can use them as a homing beacon to attract a certain type of talented employee that resonates with your ethos (the characteristic spirit of your culture).

Archetypes within an organization are most often expressed in a set of core values. These core values establish set patterns of behavior by triggering archetypal images in the employee’s psyche.

Companies with thriving corporate culture like Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Amazon.com, Google, The Container Store, and Netflix have all aligned themselves with specific groups of archetypes that bring core values to life.

When this strategy is used consciously, the effects are usually extraordinary. Arguably, this is the most profound and underutilized application of archetypes in modern management.

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