The most profound change affecting contemporary mass-communication is the role it plays in a society without sacred stories to provide our whole culture with shared meaning.
In part, the lack of such stories offers us a kind of personal freedom never before experienced. The story of our lives cannot be totally predicted by our gender and our social class at birth. We are free to define ourselves for ourselves and to choose our own life path.
While the archetypes are universal, the meaning surrounding them changes on a cultural basis. In Western society, for instance, a shared value of individualism reinforces the role model of discovering and expressing one’s own uniqueness. Other cultures are more relational. In Latin America and Soviet republics like China and Vietnam the culture reinforces fidelity to family and community over individualism. Relational cultures are living out a different story than individualist cultures. Values are different.
In the past, the image a company conjured up might result in part from conscious marketing decisions, but even more so from the unconscious assumptions of people in the field.
Quite unconsciously, the management of these companies tends to be attracted to brand identities consistent with the archetypes that simultaneously are shaping their own behavior and the corporate culture. This is how some leading companies happen onto archetypal identities and manage to retain them over time-especially if they have leadership that trusts their own insides and their intuitive hunches. However, if they don’t—and if marketing firms convince them to follow every fad or public whim—they inevitably will drift from one identity to another, creating no clear lasting impression.
To determine the brand identity a company will like, it is best to find out who the firm thinks it is—in terms of the life role model it is giving out. Even in a societal context, where money and “success” are primary, individuals’ deeper values are reflected in the details of their ambitions
the dreams that propel them forward. These values and dreams create an identifiable organizational culture, which is then reflected in its brand identity.
Organizations that thrive have at least one active archetype helping them to find their unique mission (individuality), create the feeling of community (belonging), get the work done (mastery), and create stabilizing structures (stability). Yet, for a brand identity to be compelling, it needs to be simple and easy to recognize. This means that brand identities are forged best by identifying solidly with one-and-only one-archetype.
The model within the brand serves as a guide for the corresponding motivation in all of us.
In practice, with the high rate of product innovation, it generally is prudent to brand the company, not just the product or services. Companies do best when they are explicit and honest about the archetype that is truest to their values, mission, and vision—and allow that archetype to shine. Until now, in most companies, the link between organizational culture, corporate values, and brand identity has been informal and largely unconscious.
Brand identity for an organization is like the persona of an individual. It is the image we present in the world. When an individual’s persona is too different from the reality of the self, he or she becomes bipolar. So, too, with organizations: if their brand identity and their actual brand culture, policies, and procedures are discordant, they become unhealthy. As a consequence, both employee morale and credibility with customers begin to plummet.
Here my five beliefs:
1. Don’t play safe, express who you really are; 2. There is no formula; 3. Make it meaningful, make it simple; 4. Advertising is unhealthy, tell your story; 5. Be consistent.