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Holistic branding and marketing posts by Diana Chaplin.


Filtering by Category: Deep thoughts

Activist Archetype on the Rise: Where Branding and Politics Unite

Diana Chaplin

If we’ve ever talked about branding, then you might know just how fascinated I am by the use of archetypes in messaging and positioning various aspects of communication. That’s because archetypes are universal; they’re the common ground of understanding humanity that we share across cultures, age, race, gender, and most other identifying factors that seem to divide us on the surface.

But the really cool thing about both branding and archetypes is that they transcend any single application or modality.

So even though branding is usually tied to marketing and business, and archetypes to psychology, today I’m going to weave in how all this relates to politics, social movements, and the charged emotional atmosphere we’re in currently.

Now we’re having fun!

So what exactly is an archetype?

Archetypes are a concept that comes from psychology, or more specifically our understanding of the psyche (soul/mind/spirit/core of who we are both individually and collectively) developed by brilliant psychoanalyst Carl Jung. You can think of archetypes as the characters we all have in our subconscious minds. Examples of archetypes include the Hero, Sage, Temptress, Pioneer, Rebel, Angel, Healer, Creator, etc.

I bet you already have a sense of exactly what I meant as I listed those off just now. Yes? That’s because they’re in your, and everyone else’s, subconscious. Archetypes also extend to archetypal events such as birth, death, and marriage, and archetypal motifs, such as patterns in storytelling that include star-crossed lovers, teacher and student, or the epic journey. These are all things that are nurtured into us through culture.

Archetypes are used in branding all the time.

Most of us don’t realize it on a conscious level (we don’t think “oh there goes Nike portraying “the Athlete” again” or “oh Starbucks, you are indeed my Muse”), but we resonate subconsciously, and our brains organize the brand’s information in a particular way that is (generally) favorable to the vibe or style that brand wants to evoke.

Archetypes are like shortcuts to understanding. When done right, we get a feeling, the kind of feeling that is conducive for us to buy or enjoy a particular product.

Here are some examples of archetypes in branding from the environmental nonprofit world (because branding isn’t just for conventional businesses!):

Stand for Trees – forest and wildlife conservation = Protector archetype.

Greenpeace – bold environmental action and defense = Rebel archetype.

Earthjustice – legal organization to enforce environmental laws = Advocate archetype.

Want more examples? Apple = Creator, Sesame Street = Child/Innocent, Rei = Adventurer, Facebook = Networker, Epicurious = Hedonist, HBO = Entertainer, NASA = Explorer, Barnes & Noble = Mentor.

I’m not sure if all of the above would agree with my assessment, but these are the archetypes they convey through their function, marketing, design, and/or products. The archetype is right at the very core of their reason for being or their mission.  

Once you become aware that brands channel these underlying archetypes, you’ll see how ubiquitous these patterns really are, and you can recognize a good brand by how well they can create the full experience of the many layers to that particular archetype. The consistency and authenticity to that persona would permeate everything from the imagery and design, to the copywriting/messaging, and the sensory experience of a physical space. Everything is clear, consistent, and usually awesome in some way.

Take a moment, right now, to ask yourself if you can clearly identify the archetype of your business. Does this archetype permeate every aspect of what you offer and how you offer it? If not, it’s worth exploring further so that everything can click into place with a stronger and more holistic strategy.

One more thing, keep in mind that we’re being impartial here, so this is smart communication strategy that can be used for good… or for shallow consumption. I aim to inform, let your conscience guide you.

Ok great. So what does this have to do with politics?

I’m glad you asked.

If you’re reading this it means you have access to the internet, and so have likely been a witness (if not participant) to the emotional upheaval that has taken over our political and social lives in the United States since the new president has taken office. I’m going to remain a neutral observer here and comment on the response and strong resistance from many who are not so thrilled with the new head honcho or his policies. That response has come in the form of massive protests, marches, petitions, donations, pressure on political leaders of all levels, social media feuds, and groups organizing to discuss and take action.

This, my friends, is the Activist archetype rising. Collectively.

The truth is that we ALL have ALL the archetypes swirling around in our subconscious minds all the time, although usually we operate with one or two as our dominant archetypes and pull from the others when it’s needed based on the situation. For example, you can be a Creator or Artist in your personal and professional life, but when your kid gets sick you quickly shift to being the Caregiver, and then later when you go to a yoga class you’ll be a Seeker for a while. Get it?

But sometimes, archetypes are activated in entire groups of people because a situation calls for it. That’s what’s happening now. We are uniting as Citizens and Activists in opposition to what we see as an attack on our core values. The political situation has gotten so intense that our other archetypes are pushed to the sidelines as this one comes to dominate our attention, and our actions. Regular people who have never been into “the whole activism thing” are suddenly taking to the streets, organizing, have their government officials on speed dial, and planning rallies left and right. Even children are talking about fighting for equal rights.

Suddenly, we are all Activists.

By the way, it’s happened before, so it’s not a liberal or conservative thing, although the group’s sensibilities and moment in history comes with it’s own idiosyncrasies as to how this all unfolds.

In the consumer world, we’re seeing this result in certain businesses being boycotted, a substantial rise in donations to nonprofits, some business closing for a day to illustrate their value, and advertising becoming more political.

Here’s a description of the Activist archetype, from the book Archetypes in Branding:

This archetype is defined by it’s intentional efforts to affect social, environmental, economic or political change. A champion of various causes, the Activist seeks to persuade people to wake up and change their behavior. The activist is motivated by wanting to do some good in the world and to radically transform the conventional order. Driven to truly experience change, this archetype deploys a range of tools that enable action for achieving results. Working within various areas of value to society, the Activist possesses a strong belief in the power of the collective.

Willing to take a stand, the Activist initiates a universal refusal to obey what is wrong and awakens a vision for what is right. Brimming with new ideas for change and problem solving, the Activist can ignite a revolution.

Blatantly critical of old paradigms, this archetype thrives on the high that comes from winning against all odds. The Activist is an outgoing, communicative, ingenious, persuasive, motivating, invigorating and tireless fighter. Passionate and disposed toward sharing the responsibilities and rewards with others, today’s Activist is equipped with digital tools and people power to effect change.

It’s just one description, but it rings a bell doesn’t it?

This is what’s in the air right now. We’re breathing it in, talking about it, sharing it, getting distracted by it, and planning our lives around it. Like it or not, whichever political side you’re on, this archetype is coming to the forefront in the minds of millions.

So what do you do with this information?

When the air is charged with something powerful, YOU - as a business, nonprofit, entrepreneur, or otherwise human who I presume is interested in communicating ideas in a way that will resonate with people – can harness this energy.

How? Recognize it, channel it, but don’t be too overt or you’ll the run the risk of inviting criticism for being opportunistic, shallow, or off-putting. Talk about the values you stand FOR, rather than against, and make sure those values are aligned with your business and existing fundamental message, but in a fresher, updated, more direct, or more connected way. Consider how your business can touch upon the things your audience might be thinking about, such as:

  • Equality and justice for all
  • Protecting the environment
  • Ending corruption
  • Changing our economic system
  • Elevating the messages of peace and love
  • Taking care of each other on a global scale

The point is not to insert yourself into politics, or to become an Activist because it’s trendy, it’s to take a step back and assess whether to engage in something that is already happening, whether your business is ripe for engagement in this way, at this time.

Another interesting approach, could be to determine which archetype is aligned with you or your business, that is complementary to the Activist, meaning an archetype that the Activist would be naturally drawn to, such as the Advocate, Alchemist, Ambassador, Artist, Hero, Idealist, Innovator, Liberator, Reformer, Mentor, etc. If your archetype works to empower or support the Activist then what are ways to make that message stronger, bolder, and clearer? Again, the Archetypes in Branding book is very helpful if you’re interested in exploring these ideas further.

I’ll leave you with one last thing to ponder.

Some scientists have pointed out that history repeats itself through violent social upheavals in 50 year cycles, and that we’re due for one right around now. So like it or not, change is in the air. The only question is whether you and your business will participate.

How Intuition and Synchronicity Can Revolutionize your Business

Diana Chaplin

Working for yourself involves making pivotal decisions all the time. Should you launch a business? Do you need a lawyer or CPA? Who’s your ideal client? Is this or that project the right fit for you?

On the one hand, it’s exciting and liberating to be in the driver’s seat of your professional destiny. On the other hand, it can be agonizing to wrestle with some of these decisions because being a freelancer or entrepreneur is a unique experience by nature.

There is only one you.

You put yourself on this rugged path probably knowing it wasn’t going to be an easy afternoon stroll, and now that you’re stuck in the mud with one hand holding on to a flimsy branch for dear life and the other reaching out for a glittering unicorn who may or may not take you to salvation, YOU’VE got to figure out what to do.

Sound about right?

Yes, it’s lonely and scary in this realm of uncertainty.

Sometimes you almost wish you had a regular job where someone else could just tell you what to do… almost.

Mentors and great resources are helpful. Rational thinking is helpful. Asking your tribe for advice is helpful. BUT those things will only take you so far. What sets most successful independent’s apart is the ability to connect with their own sense of inner purpose, and that is something that resides in the gut or the heart, not the mind.

So here’s the good news:

Whatever question you might be struggling with at any given time in your work or life, you actually already have the seed of the answer. You just have to learn to nourish it.

Intuition is a powerful force we all have access to, and learning how to tap into it will make everything in life flow easier. It’s there, energetically, pulling you towards the right thing if you can silence the onslaught of thoughts long enough to stop resisting and just listen.

So how can you use your intuition to make good decisions?

If you follow this simple process consistently, you will see major shifts in your decision-making. Seriously.

1. Ask yourself clear questions, repeatedly.

Phrase the question to yourself in a really simple way, such as:

  • Should I launch a business?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Who is my ideal client?

This can be used for personal questions too…

  • Who is my soulmate?
  • Is this the right house?
  • Should I move across the country?

Once you’ve got your question, ask it in your mind multiple times a day, and especially as you’re falling asleep at night. Allow the question to penetrate your subconscious mind.

2. Follow hunches.

Listen up, because this is really important:

the answer is not going to come in an obvious way. 

You’re not going to get an email from intuition.com with subject line: Here’s what you should do! You have to also take steps forward in real life and be on the lookout for guide posts leading you towards the answer. That’s just how the universe works my friends.

This is where synchronicity comes in, and the right step forward will arise slowly in the form of gentle hunches.

It will be curiosity about some article you see online, an invitation to an event you instantly want to say yes to, or the desire to follow up with a friend of a friend who has some experience in the thing you’re unsure about. FOLLOW those hunches, do the things! One thing will lead to another and you will get or learn exactly what you need to make progress somehow, often in totally unexpected ways.

3. Invite inner stillness

Mental stillness is essential for being clear-headed enough to see and follow the guideposts mentioned above, and to integrate the experiences or information in a meaningful way into the intuition supercomputer that will ultimately churn out the outcome that will propel you towards awesomeness. Personally, I meditate -(just 10 minutes a day is all you need, you don’t have to go on a silent retreat or anything), do yoga, read, craft, write, and just do things in silence. For you maybe it’s some other activity, but the point is it to cultivate a quiet mind.

Likewise, self-care is not only good for overall wellbeing, it is a critical component of good decision-making. Get enough sleep, hydrate, eat well, enjoy the company of people you love. Don’t lose yourself in an obsession with work, you won't see answers clearly if you're stressed out or exhausted.

4. When it’s time, just do it and move on

 You can rationalize the hell out of why working with a particular client sounds like a good move, but if some deep-down part of you is resisting because something doesn’t feel right, that’s your intuition saying NO.

Don’t drag it out longer than necessary and don’t second-guess yourself once you make the final call. Dwelling in hesitation and fear is a colossal waste of energy that will also blind you from seeing other, better opportunities. Similarly, if you’ve been waiting to make a bold move, have weighed the pros and cons, have done the research, and just know it’ll probably work out if you can only muster up the energy to leave your current state of security, then at some point you just have to leap. One way or another, a net will appear, you’ll figure things out, it’ll be ok.

I can’t say this is a guaranteed method for success, but in my experience more often than not if you follow your intuition you’ll find yourself presented with an abundance of new opportunities, benefitting from coincidences, and riding the wave of synchronicity towards things that help you evolve both personally and professionally. That’s the truth of human nature if we have the courage to get out of our own way.

Embracing Uncertainty

Diana Chaplin

Hello freelancing, independence, blind faith. Hello fear and uncertainty. I have embarked on a journey into the unknown and I forge ahead bravely, yet not unwavering. 

For years it has been my dream to move to western Massachusetts with my family, live among nature, and enjoy a gentler pace of life than New York City could offer. After years of planning, saving, and waiting, it's finally happened. Here we are, and we love it. I even wrote an encouraging post about how I managed to accomplish such a big move with a young family.

Now that the dust has settled and (most of) the boxes unpacked it's time for the next step: figuring out the job situation. While I have a variety of prospects from growing my wellness site (Living Body Wellness) to freelance marketing, and a certain level of financial security from years of saving, I can't help but hear the increasingly loud roar of fear and uncertainty with each passing day. 

Fear is powerful. Social pressure even more so. What if I fail? What if I can't find clients? What if I do find clients but they don't like my work? What if I don't earn enough? What if... 

But if I listen closely, just beneath that outer cacophony of questions, there is another voice more subtle and clear, steady yet fluid like a secret river running through my subconscious, saying "it's fine, it's good, it'll all work out". The rational mind yearns to know the details but the creative mind, the one connected to the collective creative energy of the universe, knows something that the rational mind could never understand. 

This is where I am now, hopeful, open, taking deep breaths and channeling confidence and strength from the depths of my being. It's fine, it's good, it'll all work out.