Food Full Circle, presented by MarketPlace, explores the cyclical way in which the food industry is transformed by consumer demand and through products that are increasingly healthy, sustainable, accessible, and delightful. Finally, it unpacks how nutrition industry execs can cultivate meaningful and successful brand experiences—the bridges that connect innovation to consumer and, ultimately, complete this circle of positive transformation. Join food industry veteran Tracy Landau as she interviews guests and panelists and provides a wide view into how companies can better the lives of people and pets. Today’s topic: brand archetypes!
In This Episode of Food Full Circle
Tracy Landau sits down to interview MarketPlace’s Jeremy Huggins, our Director of Naming and Verbal Identity, on the topic of brand archetypes. What are they? Why are they important and why do our clients get so excited about them? How do you go about selecting a brand archetype for your brand? In the process of answering these questions, they uncover how archetypes can provide a new and helpful way of thinking about your brand that will unify your brand team and inform every brand decision.
The Brand Archetypes
Tracy Landau [00:00:00]
Hey, everyone. I’m your host, Tracy Landau, the founder and president of MarketPlace, a strategy research and branding firm that specializes in nutrition and lifestyle brands for people and pets.
Tracy Landau [00:00:18]
Food, it’s grown and harvested, processed, and procured. It’s transformed into the ingredients that go into the products you know and love. Food connects us all. And when it’s healthy, accessible, sustainable, regenerative, and delightful, it betters the lives of people and their pets. After two decades of branding food technology, ingredients, and CPG brands, we’ve done it all and we have more than a few stories to share. Join us as we talk about what goes into making a meaningful and successful food brand. This is Food Full Circle.
Tracy Landau: [00:01:00]
I’m so excited we decided to kick off our first episode by interviewing our very own one of a kind, the amazing Jeremy Huggins. Jeremy is our Director of Naming + Verbal Identity, but that doesn’t really sum up everything he does. He kind of does it all from complex global naming projects to delivering high-level positioning for CPG brands to interior design to being our on-staff barista. He has an interesting and diverse background, and it shows. I finally get to sit down with him and ask all about brand archetypes. What are brand archetypes? In this interview, Jeremy and I talk about why our partners like them, how they represent universal patterns across cultures, how to apply them, and even what my archetype is.
Tracy Landau: [00:01:50]
Hey, Jeremy Huggins.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:01:52]
Hi, Tracy Landau.
Tracy Landau: [00:01:53]
Welcome to Marketplace’s Food Full Circle, our first podcast.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:01:57]
Thank you. I’m happy to be here. I love being in this podcast room with you. It kind of feels like we’re on a little office date. It’s very exciting.
Tracy Landau: [00:02:03]
You are my office husband.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:02:05]
Tracy Landau: [00:02:05]
OK, let’s chat. What are we going to talk about? Archetypes.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:02:09]
Tracy Landau: [00:02:10]
Right. What is an archetype?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:02:13]
Well, I won’t bore everyone with the history of archetypes and Carl Jung, but as a word guy, you know that I will go to words. I do want to apologize to my Greek professors from long ago. If you’re hearing this and I’m gonna mess this up. But the word archetype comes from the Greek words arcos, which means sort of first or original. And tupos which is where we get type, which means, you know, type or pattern. So the idea of archetype is it’s this first pattern, this original pattern, that belongs to all cultures. So, whether you are a member of an Australian Aboriginal culture or you’re a Tibetan, there will be certain patterns that show up across all cultures. That’s kind of the idea that every culture has that guy, you know, who’s like that or that lady who’s like that. And so those patterns we now talk about as archetypes, and we tend to have 12 of them that everyone recognizes, as these universal patterns that everyone is represented by in one form or another. So, that’s how we think about archetypes at MarketPlace, and that’s how we present them to clients when we work with them on archetypes.
Tracy Landau: [00:03:37]
Yeah. So at MarketPlace, we’re a brand firm, so we help customers identify their personality. Which, archetypes are a key component to that. It’s honestly, whenever we get into this exercise, the most exciting grand exercise that our customers go through. They get super excited about it. So the way I frame it to them is, “Hey, we’re about to uncover your personality.” If your business were a person, your company was a person, what would that person be like? And they get super excited.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:04:11]
They do get super excited. Well, speaking of archetypes, do you have an archetype? What would your archetype be?
Tracy Landau: [00:04:18]
I don’t know. Know these archetypes well.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:04:19]
If we sat down and did an archetype, uh, you know, process with you and we’ve got the jester, the everyman, the lover, the ruler, the outlaw, all the archetypes like, where would you fall? Have you ever thought about that?
Tracy Landau: [00:04:34]
I haven’t, but I’m probably the caregiver and the lover. That’s what I would say. What do you think? Am I wrong about that? And there are multiple archetypes that one can own, so …
Jeremy Huggins: [00:04:48]
Yes, we will talk about that. You can be more than one archetype. I can see that.
Tracy Landau: [00:04:52]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:04:52]
I think that makes sense.
Tracy Landau: [00:04:53]
Oh, all right. Well, we’ll uncover more of why you think that later.
Tracy Landau: [00:04:56]
Yes. Well, just to get into who Jeremy is because I think that’s important. So, tell us a little bit about your background. So we hired Jeremy a decade ago.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:05:09]
Tracy Landau: [00:05:09]
I don’t remember what life was like without Jeremy.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:05:12]
Yeah. Well, the running joke at this point is more of a walking joke because it’s old is that when you guys interviewed me, I tried as hard as I could to get you not to hire me.
Tracy Landau: [00:05:25]
That is true.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:05:25]
I told you many times.
Tracy Landau: [00:05:26]
I didn’t pick up on that.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:05:27]
Please don’t hire me. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Tracy Landau: [00:05:30]
Tracy Landau: [00:05:30]
I mean, I guess that I picked up on but.
Tracy Landau: [00:05:32]
So maybe that means part of your archetype as a sage, because you and Phil had some sort of wisdom that said, well, even though he has no background in business or finance or marketing, he’s going to work.
Tracy Landau: [00:05:49]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:05:50]
I’m still here. So something worked.
Tracy Landau: [00:05:52]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:05:52]
But yeah, I didn’t. I was writing. I was a writer. I was an artist. I was doing creative writing. I had been teaching writing and composition and rhetoric and I had a Master of Divinity and a Master of Fine Arts and Literary Nonfiction and all these unmarketable degrees. And I was literally, you know, working like five jobs and had some friends who needed some help with their own marketing and branding work. I didn’t know at the time it was marketing and branding. All I knew was it was writing and I thought, “Well, I’m a writer.” I knew I had this high degree of unwarranted confidence that I could do anything if it was writing-related. In retrospect, if I look back, I see the jobs that they were asking me to do, and I’m like, “Man, I’m glad I didn’t know.”
Tracy Landau: [00:06:41]
Good thing you didn’t know.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:06:42]
Because they would have been really nervous.
Tracy Landau: [00:06:43]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:06:44]
So. But for me, it was, you know, when I started at MarketPlace in my head, it was good writing is 80 percent critical thinking. Can you ask good questions? Can you listen? Can you think about things in a worldview level? And you look at disparate types of data and make connections among them and then communicate that in an interesting way? And if you can do that, the other 20 percent is kind of trivia. It’s just the jargon. It’s knowing the industry, it’s learning the pet market. It’s learning some of the specific disciplines of brand strategy, including archetypes. And so that’s how it kind of started. And over 10 years, I’ve learned a lot and done a lot of things.
Tracy Landau: [00:07:28]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:07:28]
But, you know, one of my favorite things has been doing some of this type of work with clients, so it’s fun to talk about.
Tracy Landau: [00:07:34]
For sure. Yeah. I love being in a room with you when you’re working with customers and archetypes. There have been some, besides the AHA moment when we talk about archetype being a company personality, we’ve had some moments with customers where they sort of start to think more deeply about their personality. And in some cases it’s, uh, it can be really positive and it can also have some negativity to it because maybe their personality that they currently own is not one that they aspire to and there can be some adjustments that are made from a branding perspective to get to that.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:08:16]
Tracy Landau: [00:08:17]
Do you have one in mind where that happens? I’m thinking back to …
Jeremy Huggins: [00:08:22]
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I would say what we probably have both seen is where archetypes tend to be the most useful is where we can tell right up front that there are some inconsistencies or some pretty big issues between sales and marketing. And we’ve worked with a lot of the … the discovery and ideation work we do is helping bring sales and marketing together, especially on the B2B side where you have very large teams that can be very spread out. And so it’s … it can be very helpful during ideation to do these archetype exercises because they tend to uncover where those misses on alignment are, where people are like, “Oh, wait a second. Maybe we don’t all share the same, even core stuff, like mission or vision. When you start, you give them something specific to talk about, “Hey, here’s this archetype wheel. Here are these four quadrants. Here are these 12 archetypes. Let’s … What do you think if you had to say this is the one that best represents our company?” And so you give them something specific like that’s not typical business jargon and they start talking about it. Then it … that specific thing is, is what helps them begin to actually communicate? And then they realize like, “Oh wow, you think we’re the outlaw? I would have said we were the creator.” “Like, why do you think that?” And that gets us into those bigger discussions? [00:10:01][99.4]
Tracy Landau: [00:10:02]
Yeah, and some lively ones I’ve been a part of, too. So yeah, it’s really, really interesting and it’s something that in a meeting, we usually don’t land on it immediately. It’s something that we hear the feedback and then we apply our own knowledge and expertise and then circle back and make a presentation on the archetype that we think we landed on, right, that we’re recommending. So, yeah, it’s definitely a customer favorite exercise. So, Jeremy, I was thinking back to some of the early projects we did with archetypes anything memorable from those early projects that you want to share? [00:10:38][36.5]
Tracy Landau: [00:10:40]
Yeah, I think the very first time that we had the archetype exercises as a formal part of a project was with a pretty well-established but small consumer dog treat brand. And it was … it was interesting because they, I mean, they were very successful already but they were in a growth phase and were having some issues trying to figure out how to reach that next level and it became clear that there was a little bit of disagreement in terms of how they thought of themself. And, of course, then that makes me think, “Oh, archetypes. This would be a great way to give them a specific thing to focus on to help talk about this in a new way.” Because when you’re only talking internally, you tend to talk about the same things in the same way. And so that’s why this can be really helpful for us to come out with an outside voice in a new way of thinking and the particular challenge for them that I found is that their brand has an actual dog as part of their identity and it’s a cartoon dog. And, you know as well as I do, when we have dogs we tend to take on our dog’s personalities and talk to them a certain way. [00:12:09][89.8]
Tracy Landau: [00:12:10]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:12:10]
We think of them in a certain way. And so …
Tracy Landau: [00:12:12]
They’re like family.
They think of this dog in different ways and so they think of their brand in different ways and they thought of themselves in different ways. So, it was a really interesting, complex issue that archetypes ended up being really helpful and a really useful tool in that situation. And that, you know, that’s just a good example of how archetypes are typically best suited for a situation where you’ve got sort of a complex brand problem, right? I mean, you hear this constantly from our partners—especially on the B2B side—when you tend to have more of a complicated or abstract service offering or product mix. “Well, it’s … we’re selling a technology for, you know, dough improvement or for shelf-life stability or to help your malik or fumaric acid work better in your pectin formulation.”
Tracy Landau: [00:13:19]
We do a good amount of B2B work, that’s for sure. Yeah.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:13:22]
Tracy Landau: [00:13:22]
That’s ingredient-based. So, yeah. So the question is, “Do I need a personality for that? How does the personality fit there?” And it does.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:13:31]
Yeah, it does. Absolutely. And that’s … what it does is it takes something that can seem like a relatively abstract sales process, and it can help people assign some sort of personality to it so that when when you have to figure out, “Well, how do … what words do I use to talk about this? Should I be super serious? Do I need to come off as authoritative?” You know. “Hey, I’ve read that B2B companies are trying to be more personal like consumer brands these days. Should I be like that?” This is the thing that gives everyone that answer.
Tracy Landau: [00:14:15]
Yeah, it’s the one of the first things we do in a brand process. And yeah, it gives that tone of voice … again, the personality. And you know, I’ve been in the industry a long time, the ingredient industry, the food and beverage industry, health and wellness, pet and animal. And, specific to B2B, there has been a lot of focus in the past years—decades plus ago—where it was, “Here’s what we make and here are the very—more technical explanation or spec-driven explanations—for our products and services and today that doesn’t resonate as much. There’s a time and place for that information to be shared. But up front, there’s a relationship, right? And that relationship is driven by companies, brands that seek companies, and brands that have shared missions. I mean, this is evolving, right? Shared mission, shared vision, and that this personality is key to come out in that conversation.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:15:18]
Yeah. I mean, you’re there on the B2B side, you’re still buying from someone and that someone is your brand.
Tracy Landau: [00:15:26]
You’ve got to trust them.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:15:27]
Yeah, that’s why we’re giving or assigning a personality to your brand, because people find comfort in familiarity, they find comfort in authenticity, they find comfort in consistency. And the archetype is really what helps provide that for a lot of these B2B companies. So.
Tracy Landau: [00:15:46]
Is it too simplistic to say it’s the sum of the parts?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:15:49]
No, not at all. Yeah. I mean, it’s just, we talk about it and we use the word personality and that’s part of it. But yeah, it’s bigger than personality. It is sort of at the core of how we think about ourselves as a company. Like, that’s what the archetype represents.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:16:06]
So part of that discussion when we talk to a business is say, well, you know, again, when we get into those conversations upfront about, “How does this affect us?” “Well, it’s everything from when someone calls on the phone to the response on email to a shipment being on time. All of the experiences around the brand just connect back to the archetype.” So. Um, yeah. So I’ve had a lot of discussions with customers about archetypes over time, you know, and I often … You know, as soon as I meet a customer, I’m starting to think about their personality, their archetype, how I would make recommendations there myself. What processes do you walk through at the very beginning to educate customers? And then also, like, how do you formulate what the archetype is?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:17:00]
Yeah, I mean, it’s part of our larger discovery and ideation process, of course. We, you know … after we have done some of the upfront work, we’ve developed and sent out stakeholder surveys, we’ve sometimes expanded that and tried to get some information from the sales team and the marketing team … those are those things will then help us recognize like, “OK, here are the areas where there’s some inconsistencies.” And sometimes we see that and decide, “OK, this is … there are some big issues here. We’re going to need a more substantial archetype process.” Sometimes, it’s just a matter of, “We’re pretty well on the same page, it’s just a matter of nuance.” And then, let’s just sit down with them. Let’s just go straight into the archetype wheel and just have an open discussion saying, “What do you think you are? Where do you think you are?” And sometimes it’s pretty clear to everyone right away like, “Yeah, this makes sense.” They already have a good sense of who they are. It’s not that big of a process, and we’re just helping them to ask some specific questions. And were there ultimately just to corroborate and to give them a sense of comfort and confidence that we see what they’re seeing because it’s it’s really easy when you’re so insular and it’s just your team looking at it to not feel confident, like, is that how other people see it? Because that’s I mean, as you know, that’s that’s what a brand is. It’s about how other people see you. Not just about how you think of yourself.
Tracy Landau: [00:18:35]
That’s right. Yeah. And sometimes that’s really revealing to a customer because they’re they have to think about it in a different way. So should we go through the archetypes? To give everybody a feel for what each of ’em mean?
Tracy Landau: [00:18:49]
So, yeah, you asked a few minutes ago about what happens when we get into a situation where it’s a little bit more complex. We have to do some educating and one thing that I found helpful is even when we’re educating people and saying, “Here are your 12 archetypes. Here are the goals of this archetype. Here are the trades, here are the drawbacks. Here are the things you need to be careful of.” Even when we say all that, that’s helpful, but it’s still easy for them to get inside their heads. So much so, what I like to try to do is to take them into a different category in the same way that when I’m doing naming projects for myself, it’s easy for me to get stuck thinking about the same things I tend to think about. So I’ll say, “OK, if this brand were working on weren’t actually a digestive health ingredient, but it were something similar like a beauty store?” Right? That helps me to think about it in a new way. And so I mentioned earlier the dog treat company, because we spent a lot of time and what I needed to do is get them thinking about it in a new way, so I said, “Let’s think about something else for a while. Let’s think about potato chips.” Right. Because it’s still in the CPG world, it’s still in grocery, and they all know potato chips. And so we did an exercise and we said, “OK, let’s look at what would Sun Chips be? Well, OK, but that’s interesting. What about Doritos?” And just personally speaking, “How about, you know, gluten o crackers?”.
Tracy Landau: [00:20:32]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:20:32]
And so we found that really helpful. And that’s … I find that more useful as a form of educating them on what the archetypes are and what they mean because they’re forced to think about it in a new way, rather than going back to sort of definitions and ideas that they kind of keep in their head, you know, on repeat, already. So.
Tracy Landau: [00:20:58]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:20:59]
Tracy Landau: [00:20:59]
So it’s putting in front of them, familiar brands, showing them where they place on an archetype chart, and that resonates.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:21:08]
Yeah. Because they’ll see parallels between themselves and other brands, right? “Yeah, we we do want to be thought of as the, you know, the Subaru of oils. We do want to be thought of as the Volvo of food ingredients.”
Jeremy Huggins: [00:21:23]
Yeah, car brands would be perfect for that too.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:21:24]
So, I think that’s very helpful. And that tends to be 1. more fun, but 2. more useful as an educational tool as part of the process than just sort of saying, “Well, alright, let me explain to you what all these archetypes mean and just pick one.” So.
Tracy Landau: [00:21:46]
Sure. Sure. All right. Well, what are the 12?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:21:50]
So we’ve got the outlaw. We’ve got the creator, the ruler, the caregiver, the explorer, the sage, the innocent, the lover, the magician, the hero, the everyman, and the jester.
Tracy Landau: [00:22:08]
That’s a lot.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:22:10]
Tracy Landau: [00:22:10]
In your mind, you know, companies, again … the people at a company are going to say, “Oh, we’re a ruler.” And then someone else in the room might say, “Well, we’re a sage.” And then maybe the CEO, “Well, we’re a magician.” So, when those thoughts start pouring into the conversation, how do you moderate that? Like, what are some of the things that you do?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:22:34]
Yeah, that’s … to be candid that, I mean, that’s the type of thing that is almost always happening in the context of an ideation session. And so, I’m there. We’ve got the strategist there. We’ve got the whole team there. And so, you know, a lot of times that ends up being …
Tracy Landau: [00:22:55]
And ideas are flowing, like the purpose of the whole session is just people just share, share, share.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:22:59]
Yeah, I mean, ends up being in therapy as much as brand strategy, because people will get pretty passionate about it and it always comes back to whenever people are discussing … and it’s great. I mean, it’s never this like, “Well, no, I think we’re the creator. Well, I think we’re the ruler.” It’s people, you know, people feel pretty strongly about it and it’s because they’re excited about thinking about their new their brand in a new way. And so, what I always try to do is: 1. to bring them back to the customer, right? You need to be customer-focused. You need to be customer-obsessed to say, “OK, let’s remind ourselves who our customer is. What is our ideal customer’s archetype?” Right? And, “Is what we’re doing either a reflection of that?” Right? So sometimes it’s useful for a brand’s archetype to be the same as the customer’s archetype, to be a mirror so that that ideal customer looks at you and sees herself in your company. Because that’s, “Oh, we’re for each other. You’re my company.” Sometimes, though, it’s the case where we look at the customer and say, “OK, this customer is an explorer. Our ideal customer’s explorer (wants to go out, wants to explore the world) and our brand then needs to complement that.” It’s not that we’re going to be the same. We also need to be an explorer brand. But we then say as an explorer, “Here’s what you need to help with your exploration. So we are going to be the ruler or the caretaker.” Right? We recently did a project like this where we are helping develop an ingredient brand in the digestive health space and our ideal audience, our ideal customer, is that explorer: “I’ve got these digestive health issues that I want taken care of so I can get out and live my life fully. I want to get out and go do things. I want to hang out with my friends. I want to be able to go eat wherever I want to eat.” And so, as part of our archetype exercise, it was, “OK, is there something about our brand that is true and authentic, but that can also answer that need?” And it’s, “Well, yes!” This is the ideal scenario. We answer that desire to explore by being the ruler, someone who says, “We know this space. We’ve got this solution for you. We’ve got it under control. We will take care of this for you so you can get to do that stuff.” And so, whenever we get to those sort of disagreements or discussions, it always comes back to the consumer or the customer. Who are they and can we mirror them or should we complement them? And that helps to then give a little bit of a structure around the debate, I find.
Tracy Landau: [00:25:52]
Sure. Yeah, I’d say a majority of business to business sessions that I participate in, you know, a lot of times there’s gravitation toward the archetype of a sage or an explorer. Explorer being an innovator and a sage being, you know, knowledgeable.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:26:08]
Tracy Landau: [00:26:09]
But of course, not every B2B company is necessarily sage or explorer. They might have elements of being, of course, innovative and, of course, knowledgeable, but that doesn’t mean it’s your full personality or archetype.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:26:24]
Yeah, and that’s a tough one because you … part of the archetype exercise, which again, is in the larger context of brand strategy and positioning, is to say, “Well, let’s look at our competition, let’s look at the space we are differentiating.” But sometimes it’s true. Like, to be authentic (this is who we are as a company) there are going to be multiple people who are sages. Right? I mean, it’s not … there’s no value in taking an archetype just because it’s different, if it’s not actually who you are. Because, it’s not going to come through, and then, you know, that’s brand death. So, that’s where we get to the issue of, “OK, let’s say we’ve got your primary archetype and let’s look into a secondary archetype.” And that’s where we can get into some of the nuances to say, “You are primarily a sage, but let’s look at your internal culture. Let’s look at maybe some of the secondary benefits of your product. Those actually kind of get a little bit into the outlaw archetype, right?” And that secondary archetype usually is what’s helpful in terms of informing some of the tone of the messaging. Even things like the brand promise, taglines, and that’s where you start to get into some of that differentiation. So, yeah, lots of sages, lots of explorers. Uh, and that’s OK, as long as we’re sort of doing the work of making sure that you’re picking that for the right reason. And then let’s look at the secondary archetypes to see if we can help.
Tracy Landau: [00:28:09]
And so, yeah, that’s great. And that, in situations that I’ve been in, has really solved a lot of issues when you can have that secondary and even tertiary … we don’t really go beyond that, right?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:28:20]
Tracy Landau: [00:28:21]
Because it’s really diluted at that point, right?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:28:24]
Tracy Landau: [00:28:24]
But those archetypes, up to three that can contribute to your personality. Um, that resonates with a lot of groups that I’ve been with.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:28:33]
Yeah, I mean, I tend to go back to—I don’t want to stress anybody out—but to go back to high school English class, when you have to write an essay, it’s all about developing your thesis statement, right? And your thesis statement, that’s right up front, and everything else you write, you have to make sure that it points back to the thesis statement. That, “Does this match what you said up front?” And that’s really what the archetype is. The archetype is sort of your brand’s thesis statement. And so, if you get into multiple archetypes and start getting into tertiary and quaternary archetypes, then then you kind of create a new problem that you had in the first place, which is that people have a hard time getting on the same page and sort of remembering like, “Well, who are we?” So that’s why we try to really keep it, ideally, to sort of the primary in the secondary. There are some cases where you, I’d say, typically with a smaller team that’s more on the same page where it can be useful to go beyond that.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:29:35]
I’ve heard magician used more and more lately. Wonder why?
Jeremy Huggins: [00:29:38]
I don’t know.
Tracy Landau: [00:29:39]
Yeah? Just like I think when innovations at play and people feel like they’re truly pulling a rabbit out of the hat, so to speak, like doing something super innovative and new in industry, there’s some gravitation towards magician.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:29:53]
Yeah, well, everyone loves Disney, so everyone wants to be, probably, the Disney of their category in some ways. So, I can see that.
Tracy Landau: [00:30:01]
Yeah, that makes perfect sense and there’s creativity in that too, which is an, you know, interesting attribute to add to that archetype.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:30:07]
Tracy Landau: [00:30:08]
Megan Hook: [00:30:17]
Hi, podcast listeners. So you might be wondering what our brand archetype is. I’m Megan Hook, the Growth Strategy Director. One of the things I do is manage and refine our own brands. When I began my role in early 2019, I took a deep look into it and truthfully it had so much potential. But in its current state, it wasn’t that good. Our website hadn’t been remade in seven years and we were all aware of this problem, but there was no time to focus on it. After 18 years in business, we were like the old adage of the cobbler who made extraordinary shoes for other people, but our kids had none. It’s a classic problem, right? So I had the extraordinary opportunity to focus on making better shoes for us. I looked into our brand archetype first. I looked around to all my colleagues, piecing together our skill sets and collective knowledge. I noted the similarities and the differences in how people approached their work. It was amazing! From tightly-produced ASMR-inspired brand videos to research insights that inspired new pet treat lines. It spanned so many disciplines. It was hard to put it all in a box, honestly, and it all came together like a beautiful tapestry or a mash-up of your favorite songs. Or, maybe like Freeform Jazz. No, no, no, not like that. Anyways, I considered the possibilities from there. Maybe we were the ruler, experts of our domain, wielding knowledge, practice and process to create perfect outcomes. Or, the sage, doling out wisdom grounded by convictions and truths. Or, maybe the magician or the creator, mysteriously spinning together layers of work and divine inspiration into something of lasting value. All of these were true and resonant in parts and pieces, but still not quite right. And looking at the whole so I decided to look outwards to our partners. I thought back to the cobbler adage. We were serving our partners faithfully and diligently every day to the point where we couldn’t even focus on ourselves. We were making our clients the heroes of their own stories. Every day they step into the ring—the marketplace, if you will—to see what they’re made of. I thought of the epic story The Lord of the Rings. We’re not the hero. We’re not Frodo Baggins, right? We’re like Sam. Always helping. Always carrying the hero when they can’t carry themselves and finding a way when there seems to be none. Or, for you Star Wars fans out there were like … Maybe a combination of R2-D2 and Yoda. Oh my gosh! That’s it! Right then I knew that our archetype was the caretaker. We were the caretaker. It felt right, like the great unifier that describes the very heart of what we do. Much like the caretaker of a family, we provide an environment for our partners to thrive. Their brands get to be their best, truest selves, like brand actualization or brand therapy. If you’re considering working with us know that—above all else—we genuinely care. It even shows in the way we approach environmental branding or, like, trade show booths. We have the ability to take limited materials—cheap ingredients—and make them look like a million bucks. You might even find one of us making clouds out of pillows stuffing for your agribusiness trade show booth over the weekend. We love caring for and crafting brands. We amplify the good. We reflect it back to the world. We unearth gems of beauty and interest in your brands that you or your customers may not realize are there. From there, we take them and communicate them effectively in your press releases, on your website, and throughout all brands touchpoints. Much like Sam, we know there’s good in your brands and it’s worth fighting for. On that note, we’d love to hear about how you’re better in the lives of people and pets. We’d love to lighten the load and care for your mission by translating it into a fully formed, multifaceted, meaningful brand. I hope this segment has helped you see more of our human side, or at least how your brand could have a human side as well.
Tracy Landau: [00:35:13]
So. An archetype is selected.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:35:16]
Tracy Landau: [00:35:17]
And our customer loves it. And we agree with it and we move forward.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:35:25]
Tracy Landau: [00:35:25]
Tracy Landau: [00:35:26]
Good question. So, I’m here talking about archetypes with you, but this could just as easily be Nicole, whose leading strategy. It could be Crystal who’s leading the visual identity. I mean, it could even be even HR. I mean, it literally sort of reaches out to every aspect of what we’re doing. I mean, you think about, sort of, the larger picture, how much we are influenced and informed by this type of work and Enneagrams, Predictive Index, which HR uses to help us make decisions. Uh, the, “Which Great British Bake Off Competitor Are You?” quiz on BuzzFeed (maybe not that one)—uh, but we love these. We love these types of projects. They help us make decisions. And it’s not just sort of the upfront, you know, brand positioning. But it gets into things like for me, personally, when I’m working on a naming project, there are, you know … Over the last two years, I’ve probably worked on brand names for 10 different ingredient brands around digestive health, in one way or another.
Tracy Landau: [00:36:45]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:36:45]
It can be very helpful. And in fact, necessary for me to have that archetype in place to give me that sense of clarity. Um, and it helps me then to bring that to the clients so that when we’re talking about names, which can be very personal, very emotional, very subjective (everyone has ideas about naming). Having that archetype in place is, again … goes back to that thesis statement—is, “Does this name align with your archetype?”.
Tracy Landau: [00:37:17]
Always going back to that. Yep.
Tracy Landau: [00:37:19]
Right? The visual identity. So, when the design team is working on packaging, it’s, “Hey, here’s our reminder, team, and we’re working on our concepts. We have got this outlaw archetype. Let’s make sure that everything from the typeface you’re looking at to the color palette is a reflection and is authentic to that archetype.” Because if not, we’re going to spend time going down the wrong direction. So, it’s evident. Then, you know, the writing team, they are writing a sales sheet, they’re writing a brochure, trade show booth copy—all of it comes back to that thesis statement: “Is this a reflection of this archetype?” So, it in some ways is as important as just about anything else we do for a brand in that strategic part of our partnership with them, which, you know, comes right up front.
Tracy Landau: [00:38:19]
Sure. Yeah. I think it’s really resonated with our clients. So much so, that I’ve actually had one client send their team to get trained on archetypes …
Jeremy Huggins: [00:38:30]
Oh, wow! That’s incredible.
Tracy Landau: [00:38:31]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:38:32]
Tracy Landau: [00:38:33]
… and that whole idea of going back and checking out all their work against the company personality, the archetype, and all they do. So …
Jeremy Huggins: [00:38:41]
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the most fun working sessions I’ve had in the last few years was with our partner, now, the newly named Celesta. Alright. This incredibly excited, enthusiastic, small group of entrepreneurs doing some pretty cool startup work and in the sleep and mental health and wellness space. And it was really helpful to do this archetype work. They were really excited about it, but because there were only three of them, right, it was absolutely necessary to do this to make sure that at this very early stage were all aligned in what this means. And, uh yeah, it was a blast. They had a great time and it absolutely informed the naming process and then the visual identity process.
Tracy Landau: [00:39:35]
And Celesta is a cool name. We’ll have an episode on naming, right? Um. So, yeah. Archetypes are important. I even, you know, I was just online looking for a few things and I found that people like you and I are going out and trying to discover their archetype and they’re paying for online quizzes and things just to figure out, “who am I? What’s my personality type so I can live up to it?” Or, for whatever reason.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:40:01]
For sure. Yeah, and it’s, you know, it’s not like the idea of the archetype, of course, has been around for a long time, but it’s relatively new in terms of the business and strategy space. So, I mean, as you know—because you’ve been doing this with a lot of companies for a long time, anytime there’s a new way to look at things, a new way to think about yourself, something that actually is useful from a strategic standpoint—people are just going to go for it. So, I mean, I think it’s great and I’m glad that we get to do that.
Tracy Landau: [00:40:33]
Right. And it can be intuitive for a B2C company to really gravitate towards the exercise but B2B too. And we’ve talked about that this whole time, how important it is.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:40:44]
Yeah. And then as we’re seeing with a lot of our customers on the B2E side too.
Tracy Landau: [00:40:49]
Yes. B2E—B to everyone.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:40:49]
Because it’s an interesting place where when you, you’ve got a B2B company and you have this business unit or the smaller group that is then developing a consumer brand—usually for the first time—it’s super helpful for them because this is not something that they’ve typically done before. And so it gives them a way of doing brand work that feels comforting, right? Because it can be intimidating when it’s like, “Let’s talk about value props and mission statements and those things.” But to take it to something that’s a little bit more personal that’s a reflection of language that they already know and use, anyways—back to the online quizzes—that puts people at ease, but it’s still just as useful.
Tracy Landau: [00:41:34]
Yeah, alright. So I’m going to put you on the spot.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:41:37]
Oh. OK. Let’s do it.
Tracy Landau: [00:41:39]
My archetype? I shared with you what I thought it was. I thought it was caregiver and lover.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:41:43]
Yes. And, you’re wrong. It’s creator/magician. And that’s your homework, to figure out why its creator/magician.
Tracy Landau: [00:41:51]
Creator/Magician? Let me write this down. Hold on. OK. To be continued.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:41:57]
Tracy Landau: [00:41:57]
I’m pulling rabbits out of hats? Creative because I’m an entrepreneur? Or, creator.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:02]
That’s homework. That’s homework. What do you think archetype is? And you can’t say, “Guy who wears flannel shirts and has a pencil behind his ear” because that’s not an archetype.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:14]
I mean, I, you’re a sage, you know everything.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:16]
No. The answer is …
Tracy Landau: [00:42:17]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:17]
The answer is, “innocent/jester” and I will leave you with it.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:21]
I can see the Jester, totally.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:24]
(Laughter) But innocent … innocent is primary.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:25]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:26]
Jester is secondary.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:28]
Tell me. Just give me the innocent.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:30]
I think you’re traveling so that’ll give you something to think about while you’re traveling.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:35]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:35]
Tracy Landau: [00:42:36]
Alright. Well, thank you, Jeremy Huggins.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:38]
Tracy Landau: [00:42:39]
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:40]
Sounds good. Let’s do it.
Tracy Landau: [00:42:41]
All right. All right. See ya.
Jeremy Huggins: [00:42:42]
Tracy Landau: [00:42:44] And that brings us to the end of our first podcast. There’s so much more information and areas to explore. And we’re going to do that. I am so excited about this podcast! I wanted to do this for such a long time and I’m so glad that we’re here. Our team has a lot of knowledge and I can’t wait to open up their minds and share it with you and also engage you on what you might like us to talk about. If you want to know more about Marketplace, you can find us that marketplacebranding.com. See ya next time.
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If you’re curious about what your Brand Archetype could be and how a Brand Archetype Ideation Session with us could benefit your brand and sales team, we hope you’ll get in touch.