The media is abuzz with excitement about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Don’t worry—no spoilers here, unless you haven’t yet gotten around to seeing the original Star Wars released in 1977. So, why has the Star Wars franchise been so successful for almost four decades? It taps into familiar characters and storylines that have been part of the human experience for millennia.
When revising the screenplay, George Lucas was inspired by “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” the seminal work of American mythologist Joseph Campbell that explores archetypes within the context of the hero’s journey or “monomyth.” Archetypes are timeless, universally-recognized characters that have existed across all cultures and in every language. Carl Jung referred to them as part of our “collective unconscious.”
We could explain the archetypes, but you already know them—the Hero, the Rebel, the Sage, the Innocent, and the Ruler, among others. And we could explain the hero’s journey, but if you’ve ever read The Odyssey or seen Star Wars (or The Matrix, or any other blockbuster), you know the basic story arc: Call to Adventure, Supreme Ordeal, Transformation, Hero’s Return. The characters and the hero’s journey are the universal language of storytelling that appeal to everyone, regardless of demographics – the Holy Grail for marketing.
Marketing is no longer about pushing your product or services. It’s about connecting your brand to your audience in an authentic and relevant way. Discovering your brand’s archetype helps you understand how your brand should talk to its customers in a consistent way they’ll instinctively recognize at a deep, emotional level.
We’ve used archetypal analysis to define our own brand personality here at Alchemy (we’re Magicians, of course!) and to help brands hone their unique and authentic voice and personality. Archetypes are also helpful in understanding the needs of your customers that only your brand can fulfill.
What is your archetype? Are you a sage (Yoda), a rebel (Hans Solo), a hero (Luke Skywalker), a royal (Princess Leia)? What is your quest? Who is your nemesis? And what is your reward? If you can define these essential elements, you’ve got a great story to tell. We’d love to help.
Kirk Arnold is a Client Service Director at Alchemy at AMS. His full title is Executive Director of Client Service and Strategy, but that is just too crazy long.