Artwork By: Madi Fox
When it comes to personal relationships, it’s the people you connect with on a deeper, richer level who inherently bring more meaning and value to your life. Meanwhile, acquaintances or other more distant relationships prove harder to provide as much long term value. The same can (and should) be said about brands.
There are a lot of brands that we have a transactional relationship with. We give them money, and in turn, they provide a product or service. But think about the brands that you excitedly tell your friends, life-partners or coworkers about; the brands that you feel connected to—or even love. In today’s shifting climate, as a brand, it’s important to continually think about how you’re developing this type of connection among your customers.
For many companies, especially ones that are seeing some form of success, it can be tempting to dismiss the idea of engaging in foundational brand work, but oftentimes it’s more important than talking more about the product or service you sell.
Your brand is not your logo, typeface, imagery, or “what the marketing department is responsible for.” It’s much more than that. Your brand is the total experience that you provide anyone who comes in contact with your company. It includes things like your invoices, products, customer service scripts, first call presentations, and HR policy.
For B2B brands, this is made more complex as the buying decisions are larger and more involved, often requiring the attention and approval of not only the direct buyers, but also those who have a say in the buying process (procurement, finance, executives, etc.). And for the customer, the stakes of getting it right are often much higher.
So, how do you make sure you’re providing the best experience you can to such diverse audiences? You do more than scratch the surface; you dive underneath it in order to truly understand your customers’ needs.
Here at Studio Science, diving beneath the surface to better understand people is a critical part of any engagement. If brands are about building a connection or defining a relationship, it starts by using a combination of insights, data, and tools to answer two key perspectives: 1) What does a company say about themselves and 2) What do different audiences (employees, customers, stakeholders) say about the company and how do they view it? The intersection of these answers is the beginning of defining the emotional core of your brand. The goal of our work is to align the narrative audiences want to hear with the narrative a company wants to tell.
Let’s focus on one of the tools we use to do this.
Brand archetypes are intuitively understood patterns of behavior that symbolize common human motivations, drives, desires, and goals. They are based on the work of psychologist, Carl Jung, who identified 12 major personality archetypes. The brand archetype framework is a tool that helps brands build the bridge for an emotional connection with an audience by defining the “why” a brand looks, sounds, and behaves a certain way, and consequently helps take customer interactions beyond the transactional.
Although the names may subtly differ, there are 12 globally accepted archetypes, from “Every Person” (think Home Depot) and “Outlaw” (Harley-Davidson) to “Innocent” (Dove), and “Explorer” (The North Face). Establishing these archetypes helps companies know who they are (and who they aren’t) and guiding their expression to match.
For example, you can understand how it would be strange for an Outlaw (e.g., Harley-Davidson) to begin looking like or sounding like an Innocent (Dove) or a Lover (Godiva). By defining an archetype, you begin to establish creative focus for your expressions and communications that reflect who you are as a company and how you communicate with an audience. In turn, this is the emotional connection you make with your audiences. You go beyond features and functions, which are often table stakes in today’s economy. If everyone else can do what you do, what makes you different? Why would someone choose you?
In the center of the framework lie four psychological functions: belonging, change, order, and knowledge. You’ll want to align your brand with the archetype that would most appeal to a desire within your customer (they are often the same, but not always). It’s ok if another company falls in the same quadrant or are the same archetype. Just like no two people are exactly alike, there will be plenty of room for you to be you. For example, both Disney and Dyson are Magician archetypes. While they have some similarities, you, as a consumer, would not confuse one for the other.
Speaking of the Magician archetype, we recently worked with Unqork, whose no-code application platform allows companies to build enterprise applications with ease. They needed a brand that could visually tell their story and instill confidence in CIO’s and business leaders that they could achieve the unimaginable. It is an incredible product, but their previous brand didn’t set them apart. They had an opportunity to tell a much bigger story to the market. Their new visual identity helps tell a complex, often misunderstood story in a way that finally brings no-code to the center of complex enterprise application development.
It’s not easy for many companies, particularly in the B2B SaaS/tech vertical – a space Studio Science works within often (see our work with 6Sense and Cherwell) – to operate from an emotional space. They spend so much time dedicated to raising money, creating great products, building sales teams and campaigns to showcase the features and functions of their products, and often fall short in developing a brand that differentiates them and connects more meaningfully to customers, prospects, and employees. Without creating that emotional connection, many of these companies run the risk of failing to have any distinction from competitors making similar products.
Understanding the business you’re working for, the landscape you operate in, and making design decisions to support your growth, are pillars of good brand strategy. At Studio Science, we want to help you make decisions based on research and insights informed by the people you work with and those who you sell to, ultimately creating those lasting relationships with customers all brands aspire to attain.