Out With The Jung And In With The Yohn – Re-imagining Archetypes Into Brand Forms

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They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery – they’re wrong. It’s innovation. Finding an idea that excites you so much you just want to build it up, shoot it into space and watch it light up our universe. We feel that’s exactly what Yohn did with Jung – and what we will attempt to do with Yohn, here today.

Firstly, who is Jung? We at Nucleus Vision pride ourselves on knowing what it is that makes a brand tic and using those insights to propel that brand forward. That’s why we use Jung’s 12 Archetypes as one of the foundational elements of our process. Jung was the founder of analytical psychology and his insights into the human mind are used by marketers, brand managers and SME owners around the world to better position their brands to serve their audience. It is extremely important for a brand to know who it is, and what drives them before they can take any marketing action. Jung’s Archetypes are over 100 years old and while they are functional and serve a very important purpose – isn’t it time they got a bit of an upgrade?

That’s where Denise Lee Yohn comes in. Ms. Yohn is a brand expert who initially cultivated her brand-building approaches through several high-level positions in advertising and client-side marketing. She served as lead strategist at advertising agencies for Burger King, Land Rover, and Unilever and as the marketing leader and analyst for Jack in the Box restaurants and Spiegel catalogues. She then went on to head Sony Electronic Inc.’s first ever brand office, where she garnered major corporate awards as the vice president/general manager of brand and strategy.

And does she have a treat for you. She calls her new insights the “9 Different Brand Types” and points out that they are different from Jung’s archetypes and marketers aim to focus communication strategies using Jung, but Yohn’s goal with her Types is operationalisation.

But, Nucleus Vision is nothing if not boundary pushing. We had a thought. Why not fold Jung into Yohn? Creating a new foundation upon to which to build brand communication and operationalisation, instead of separating the two concepts, have one iteration that informs that both. We can call them Brand Forms, as in, what form does your brand take now that it has stepped into the world. What form can your brand evolve into now that you have this new understanding and perspective.

What if we re-name Yohn’s “types” so that they conjur up more colourful imagery, we use words that brands can use as adjectives to fully describe themselves. Unlike Jung’s Archetypes which are more descriptive of what you do, these Brand Forms are more descriptive of who you are. So, what form do you take? Who are you?

I Am The Dauntless

Invulnerable to fear or intimidation.

Yohn calls these “Disruptive” brands. And here is a big challenge. Words evolves over time. The technical definition of a word may not be the way that people use it in everyday language. Yes, the word “Disruptor” became a badge of honour, especially with tech start-ups. But if you introduce yourself as a Disruptor, sometimes you have to qualify it with, “Not the immature kind”. You don’t want to be associated with a disruptive child running around a classroom seeking attention. If you’re Dauntless, it comes down to one thing – you stand your ground, because you know that the change you make will bring about a paradigm shift.

Being Dauntless can seem attractive at first, but like all other forms, it’s more of a promise. Don’t tell your audience that you’re Dauntless if you’re not going to rock their world.  

The thing about these Forms is that any one of them could relate to any one of Jung’s Archetypes. Those of us familiar with the archetypes might think that this “Disruptive” brand is the same as a “Hero” or “Outlaw”. But let’s not get shackled to the expected. An Innocent can be just as Dauntless as a Ruler.

I Am The Humanitarian

Helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.

Of course, no matter who you are as a brand, you want to make an impact. Intrinsic to the fibre of a lot of these Forms is the desire for change. Yohn describes the “Conscious” brand as having a specific focus on changing the quality of people’s lives with social or environmental change. Now, certainly, a Humanitarian can be Dauntless – the aim of these insights is not to say that these boxes are made of lead, and you may not escape from them. We are pointing out that who you are, what you do, and how you do it must integrate into each other.

Knowing these peramaters will help you make decisions that keep you true to your vision, values and goals.

I Am The Fulcrum

The support, or point of rest, on which a lever turns in moving a body, any prop or support.

All other forms are adjectives describing characteristics that can be attributed to people, a Fulcrum is the only object on the list. To be a fulcrum you must be truly courageous, doing all of the heavy lifting for no credit. You must also have the raw ability to do this duty. This is a very heavy promise and you absolutely cannot make this promise unless you know you can keep it.

Being the Fulcrum means embodying the properties of one of the strongest yet overlooked components of any working machine. Yohn says these are our “Service” brands. To take on this mantle you must be humble and your number one priority is the care and quality you provide for your customers. To be a Fulcrum you can’t be afraid to go unnoticed yet do most of the work. You also need to recognise that, yes, the world needs you – so answer the call.

I Am The Futurist

Hostility to the past or to traditional forms of expression were advocated or portrayed.

Another reminder that words must be used carefully. “Hostility” can be an aggressive word. Aren’t criminals hostile? But it is important that when we describe the Forms we use the words that best put the clearest picture of what the brand represents in your mind. Yohn calls these the “Innovative” brands and to move forward you MUST forget the past. It is a law of the universe. For innovation to thrive tradition needs to be completely forgotten. It may seem excessive, but it’s what needs to be done. The word “break” is in “breakthrough” for a reason. As a Futurist you must constantly strive to move fast and break things.

The difference between the Dauntless and the Futurist is their approach. Where dauntless is optimistic (meaning they EXPECT a positive outcome for their bold moves no matter if that expectation is warranted) the FUTURIST is a scientist. They measure, they test, they check and re-check before announcing their innovations. They are scrupulous because they must be perfect.

I Am The Provident

Careful in providing for the future.

The name of this Form is one of the most delicate. We must be careful with words like “frugal”, “economical”, they can, and sometimes do imply selfishness or withholding. Yohn chooses “Value” to describe these brands. Quite frankly, these are the brands you can go to for low prices, which does not always mean low quality – in fact intrinsic in the word “value”, is significance, benefit and purpose – these can never be “cheap”. The word Provident has its root in provide. Provident brands are givers. They feed, they heal, they clothe, they shelter, and they do so in a way that lasts. They don’t just lead you to water, they teach you to fish – safely, and in a pond that’s close to your house.

I Am The Enduring

Lasting; permanent, sustain without impairment or yielding.

No defeat. No surrender. These brands want you to associate them with lasting forever. These are less lifestyle or customer centric and are usually brands who make products you can touch, feel and keep, or those that provide a service that really hinges on reliability as a selling point. Yohn identifies these as “Performance” brands, they usually offer products that deliver superior performance and dependability.

With other Forms discussions can be had around how we describe them and the implications of the words against the function and values of the brand. But these strong, stable words like enduring, performance, lasting – there’s nothing to be said. They mean what they mean, and perfectly so, the same is true for the brands that embody the Enduring Form. It’s almost as if they don’t need a big song and dance. Who they are, what they do and how they do it all speaks for itself.

I Am The Discerning

Outstanding judgment and understanding, having excellent taste

This Form was very interesting to investigate. To do a call back to Jung these might be your Lover or your Ruler Archetypes. They create this air of exclusivity and elite status. Again for those inside this circle it’s a fabulous place to be, but for those outside, resentment might brew. But, to again point out what we are not here to do, the goal of this isn’t to create a Utopia, where everything is perfect and everyone gets along. Honesty is important, and it’s true that some things are not available to some people. These are Yohn’s “Luxury” brands – high quality, high price. But in the context of a Brand Form we can shift the focus from the product to the person. Instead of the object being expensive for the sake of being expensive it is the person – the brand and their customers – that have a Discerning eye. They have excellent judgement and know how to find and savour the finer things.

I Am The Sparkle

Great facility, clever, socially adept, brilliant, lively, or vivacious.

It’s all about the vibe with Sparkle brands. Yohn calls these the “Style” brands and emphasises that these brands think about functionality second. So, our Enduring, Discerning and Providence Forms are the opposite as these brands just want to bring that sparkle. The look and feel are what’s most important, and of course along with that the bragging rights or bump in your credibility and reputation when you’re seen embracing this brand. A clear distinction from our Discerning brand who has a focus on curating collections with a specific aesthetic or design, the Sparkle brands are all about the here and now. Perhaps they’ll stumble on a piece that can go the distance, but that isn’t their main concern.

The Sparkle is focused on being the centre of attention. They are modern yet timeless, endures through the ages, embodying contemporary style at the same time as vintage nostalgia.

I Am The Gregarious

Fond of the company of others; sociable.

Yet again the Gregarious might seem similar to the Sparkle, but take note: Sparkle wants all you focus – because they deserve it, Gregarious just wants to be with you, enjoying your company along with a group of other likeminded individuals. Think of these brands as your best friend, the person who always brings you joy and raises your spirits no matter what. You can’t help but be absolutely delighted when you are around them. According to Yohn these are “Experience” brands. Their differentiator is they don’t provide things you can touch, but moments that you can feel – memories that will last a lifetime. It doesn’t matter who you’re with, what you’re doing, the price or quality of your meals and clothes, what matters is that you’re on the most fun adventure, together.

This is just the beginning. The Nucleus Team will be exploring how Yohn and Jung can work together for our clients to help them communicate and operationalise. If you are interested in how we do that and what to be part of this experiment, reach out. We are excited to hear from you.

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