In the 53rd episode of the On Branding Podcast, Arek Dvornechuck interviews Chris Konya and talks about how you can use archetypes to shape brands.
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You can also watch this interview on my YouTube Channel
Table of Contents
*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.
Arek Dvornechuck: Hey, what's up branding experts! Arek here at Ebaqdesign, and welcome to On Branding Podcast, and my guest today is Chris Konya. And Chris is the managing director at Sylvain Labs, which is a strategy and design consultancy based in New York. So Sylvain Labs worked with clients like Uber, Disney, American Express, Spotify, just to name a few. Hey Chris, thanks for joining us today.
Chris Konya: Hi, thanks for having me.
Arek Dvornechuck: Okay. So on this podcast we're gonna talk about archetypes and how to use them, in branding as a tool. As strategists and creatives, we often use archetypes because they basically help us build brands with more clarity and more cohesiveness, right?
Arek Dvornechuck: First I just wanted to start off with the basics. So why stories, why storytelling, why archetype? And maybe you can give us some examples.
Chris Konya: Yeah. I think stories, I guess stories are just an innate part of being a human and they're they're I think a lot of how we connect with the world and kind of contextualize ourselves.
So I think stories are just a tool that we use throughout our lives. Specifically for branding. I think archetypes and characters are things that are really helpful. When we start to think about what roles brands can play for humans and for consumers. Characters and even more so archetypes I think are often used for us and branding, I think in two different ways.
So selfishly for me, I'm a brand strategist and so I'm typically creating new brands or repositioning existing brands. And when I'm thinking. Creating the new brand, I think about what role what problems do consumers have and what role can this brand have in those consumers' lives?
And I think characters and archetypes help us to think about what are they innate and everlasting human needs that we all have that can, yeah, that we can help to serve with brands. The second thing that I think archetypes can do for brands is more so for folks like my clients. So people who steer brands on a day to day basis and are trying to create a cohesive brand with clarity, like you were saying in an ongoing basis every day with every action and every touchpoint.
And I think an archetype is often really helpful in that situation because when you're trying to create unity, For one brand, you often, you have multiple people building that brand. You also have multiple perspectives and things that you're trying to do with that brand. And so having just one archetype that you can anchor in so that you always think about what role are we constantly playing and how do we behave in this world?
How do we react to the things that are happening with our brand? I think the architect can really help steer that and guide you as you're trying to navigate different ways that your brand could potentially.
Arek Dvornechuck: Okay. Basically just to sum up for our listeners, stories are something innate. There are a core part of human existence, right? And so we always tell stories. We tell stories to our consumers, to ourselves. And so we need to be aware of, of this narrative that we are pushing and archetypes come in here because they are, Initially they were invented by Plato.
And then and then by Y as well. And so we have 12 main archetypes now, but there are also like archetypes with there are there are families of archetypes, right? So it could go to 60 or 80. And basically there are like patterns of human behavior and they help us. Define brands, the tone of voice, the personality so that as you mentioned, we should start with thinking about what role does the brand have in consumers lives, and then go from there.
So can we talk about the process that you go through with your clients usually? Where to start how to figure out which archetype or what kind of. Mixture of archetypes we should use for our brand.
Chris Konya: Yeah. Great. I guess I wanna step back into some of the things that you said, which I think are really interesting. When you think back into the history of archetypes and how archetypes came to be we start young is the often credited with having invented the archetypes and it came out of. Whole idea of the collective unconscious. That there is this collective unconscious that exists when within all of us that when we were born into a society that has certain values and we all see and understand these same ideas and things.
And youngin archetypes actually started with just four archetypes, right? The persona, the shadow, the anima and the south, and those represent different areas. And then I think, archetypes evolved and there are so many different kinds of archetypes now. Everything from like character archetypes to like seduction archetypes to heroic archetypes and the archetypes I think that we're talking about, the ones that are often used in branding and advertising are, there are 12 of.
And they, I think they represent often the things that we yearn for and things that we want, the things that we're missing. And like you were saying, those personality types can bring us comfort, can bring us joy. But they can, they really, I think they serve to to satisfy our needs and satisfy what, what we want.
And the thing about, I think Arche. To answer your question about how do you choose an archetype or how do you use an archetype, I think, yeah. There are, so these, there are the traditional archetypes that we have we've used for ages, right? The outlaw, the magician, the hero, the lover, right?
These are archetypes that are innate or they're ongoing in central. And I, I think when I think. Clients today, and I think about the brands that exist today. One of the things that we're seeing in like Culture and society is that there are certain, at any given time, there are certain values that are rising.
There are things that we are more interested in. I think right now some of those things are things like, Self-love inclusivity the blending of genres and multidimensionality, these are like themes that are coming up in culture that all of our brand, like as we do our brand work, we're we're all very conscious of and we we are trying to help to illuminate and bring and elevate in society and in our brands.
And What what I did a couple years ago was I worked with a team at Sain and we redid the archetypes. We, I viewed the archetypes with these new values and really thought to ourselves, what are the needs of people and consumers today, and how can these archetypes serve those needs in a better way than maybe they have in the past?
And so we started to think, things like so like the outlaw, right? Like you're wearing a Harley Davidson jacket, right? Is Harley is an outlaw brand. That's right. But, and in a way Harley is always the outlaw is defined as a rebel without a cause. But if you start to think about today, you start to think about what, what society's values are.
It's, we're so much about, there's so much about purpose. There's so much long-termism, there's so much thinking about the collective and about society and about how we're doing good for each other, that now it actually feels more like a revolutionary might be more appropriate, a revel with a cause, right?
And so you start to think about brands like thinks the feminine product or even Tesla could even be, in this world. But really, The rebel that is there for a reason, for a thing that they're fighting for versus for individuality, which is I think what, the rebel without a cause maybe was more about before.
So really I'm thinking a little bit about how does a brand connect to people, connect to culture and connect to needs And that's how you choose an. Does that answer your question, ?
Arek Dvornechuck: Yes, definitely. Thanks for elaborating on that. First of all, you started, by explaining more about, where archetypes came from, right?
So thanks for that. And and this is a great example, right? So as you said, in, with your clients, you dig deeper, you dive deeper, right? So there is depth to each archetype, as you said. And and in the modern world we can just they evolve so we can use them in, in, in Combination with other architects and so on, as you gave us example with Tesla, for example is know is fighting for a cost.
It's not just being a rebel and stuff like that. So maybe can you give us perhaps some other examples of famous brands and that do it, the right way, the correct.
How to use archetypes
Chris Konya: Yeah, I don't think that there is a right or wrong way. I do think that, some brands become stronger and some brands less strong, so for example, within within the archetypal system, I think that there is the idea of love is changing. And the idea of, so I think there was the lover.
And I think that, the established archetypes will remain forever. Don't get me wrong I do feel like the lover is always, will always be there and, an architect, like a lover archetype might be represented by a brand like Gadi or one that, really is about, it tends to be more sensual.
But I think today actually, when you start to think. Modern values and what people are thinking about in our collective unconscious. Now we're thinking a lot more about things like self love and self care. And so whereas I think it might have been about the lover before, it might now be more about the self-advocate.
And so you might think more about an archetype around the self-advocate. An example of a self-advocate would be like a Fenty, right? That is really advocating for. Different for individual people, for a new person, someone who's maybe been underserved in the past. And I just, I can probably talk about, yeah,
Arek Dvornechuck: And I just wanted to show it out that some of the classics like Disney, mTV or maor so that we can, we all know those famous brands so we can like, understand the concept. So Disney is all about is a magician archetype. Maribo is again, this macho man. A rebel. So what is the usual process like? I'm help us understand maybe the steps you go through with your clients when working on brands, and using archetypes for inspiration, for defining the brand personality, the tone of voice and and things.
Branding with archetypes
Chris Konya: Yeah. Oh, that's a good question. I think I wouldn't say that there is one process for leveraging archetypes. I think that they come in different ways and different moments, oftentimes I think that archetypes are a common and easy way to connect over ideas. So whenever we're building brands, we're looking to.
Unique brands with differentiation, however, those brands connect to people through common ideas that may be less differentiated. So when we're developing brands, when I'm working with clients and I'm trying to figure out how how to bring out the most compelling angle of their company, of their.
And articulate in a way that consumers, that is going to be most, most exciting for consumers. I'm often trying to connect with oftentimes someone that I haven't worked with for all that long over complex ideas that we're trying to find common grounds around. And so archetypes often are a nice way for us to to talk.
The foundational footholds or anchors of a brand before we get into the more differentiated angles that are more specific to their brand. Oftentimes it has a lot to do with things that they already know about their brand or things that they know about their company, equities and things that act as a foundational common grounds.
From there, then we'll usually step beyond an archetype to talk a little bit about how is their brand, how does their brand live, that archetype, or the how, what is their, how in terms of how they do that in a way that's different from maybe any other archetype. does that make sense? ? Yes. Yes, definitely.
Arek Dvornechuck: Basically you start, on a higher level and then you go deeper and figure out, how to connect the dots. It's all about the idea. At the end of the day. You're try it, it is a creative process, so you're just trying to find that differentiator and then marry that with maybe an archetype in.
Try different things and see where the opportunities are and then start and keep exploring or going that path. As we are approaching our in the end of our interview, I just wanted to ask you about how to learn more about so of course I'm going to link to your website, which is sylvain.co, but how do you want people to reach out to you maybe on LinkedIn?
Chris Konya: Oh sure. Yeah. On LinkedIn. Probably the best place. Or through Sylvain's social media or website. So we have ways to contact us on the website as well as social media, which is of Sylvain.
Arek Dvornechuck: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate that.
Chris Konya: Yeah, thanks for having me. It was really nice.