alternatives and alternates
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Brand, Voice & Bird Alternatives

Saturday, March 12, 2022, San Pawl il-Baħar, Malta

Thanks to all of you who keep not unsubscribing. You're my heroes!

I'm never sure where I'll end up with inwords topics like Talent, Observations by Women, Change Makers, COP26, Difficult Work and this month, Alternatives.

I keep following the breadcrumbs to see if I can find the authenticity that good brand voices are all about — and because Joe said to.

"If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you. And the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."
— Joseph Campbell

Alternatives to Doing Nothing

I tripped over the topic, Alternatives, back in January, as I was writing Archetypes' Got Talent, more than a month before Ukraine was invaded.

As I was staring into the emptiness of this 7th edition, Business as Unusual, Tom Fishburne's latest marketoonist email arrived. Like Tom, I've had a nagging feeling that what I do with inwords doesn't "matter all that much in the grand scheme of things" these days, but doing nothing with it wasn't an alternative.

Avian Alternatives

Last year, when Sumit and I were choosing from the thousands of possible IUCN Red List birds to pair with our 12 Brand Voice Archetypes, we settled on the Tibetan Bunting 👇 (Emberiza koslowi) to represent The Caregiver. (More on the reasons behind that exercise soon I hope. I promised Nancy and I live in almost constant fear of her wrath if I don't keep my word.)
Technically there is no national bird of Tibet for the simple fact that it's no longer a nation.

72 years ago, like Ukraine, Tibet was invaded by its neighbour.
  • Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was 15 years old when the People's Liberation Army of China annexed his country.
  • There was no Tibetan equivalent to Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 1950.
We decided that anything appended to the word Tibetan could be argued to be threatened with extinction, so even though the tiny bunting isn't physically or behaviourally spectacular it has survived — so far. The IUCN currently lists the bird as Near Threatened.

There is no official national bird of Ukraine either, but there are three storied alternates: the Common Nightingale, the White Stork and the Whooper Swan. Like another species common to Eastern Europe, the Eurasian Blue Tit in the hero header of this email 👆 is coloured as though it was designed by a proud Ukrainian. All four of them are listed as species of Least Concern by the IUCN.

Like the Tibetan Bunting, Common Nightingale, White Stork, Whooper Swan and Eurasian Blue Tit, here's to us all doing what we can to move the dial on Ukraine's future from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened or even Least Concern.

The Eurasian Blue Tit photo above was taken by Daniil Komov, a Russian photographer from St. Petersburg. All Daniil's photos are CC-BY-NC-SA (free for non-commercial use). And as history would have it, Emberiza koslowi, the Tibetan Bunting's scientific name, is a tribute to the work of Elizabeth Kozlova, a Russian ornithologist who worked on the avifauna of the Tibetan plateau in the first half of the 20th century.

In the words of a man who lost his country and won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize:

"We must not lose hope. The 20th century was a century of war and bloodshed. The 21st century must be a century of dialogue."
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama


The big number at the bottom of each inwords email (the one above the orange unsubscribe button) — the number of known animal, fungi and plant species that are threatened with extinction — has been 37,400 since I started writing and curating this inwords newsletter last year.

In December of 2021 the IUCN announced that the number of threatened species has exceeded 40,000 for the first time since its foundation in 1964.

Thanks and Welcome

  • Thanks to Toufic and Manikandan for subscribing last month;
  • to Jon, Pauline and Michael for putting me up and putting up with my vegan self (and bonus points to Pauline for saying she liked my marinated tofu);
  • to Anita for saving me a place to say goodbye to my dear friend Hans-Jørgen;
  • to everyone who used the quiz to build or better their brand voice;
  • and to everyone who bought me a coffee.
Next month: Mirth

Featured Observations from

Neil Gaiman | G.K. Chesterton ❡
Wade Davis ❡
Miguel De Unamuno ❡
Mitch Hedberg ❡
Thomas Alva Edison ❡
Shane Parrish ❡
❡ Annie Dillard
❡ Mario Vargas Llosa
❡ Simon Shuster | Volodymyr Zelenskyy
❡ Ursula K. Le Guin
❡ Richard Flanagan
❡ Abhishek Anchliya

How to Find Your Archetype

If you've taken the Brand Voice Quiz but can't remember your archetype, fear not!
Just start typing howtobrandyou in your browser's address bar until it suggests something that looks like: /report/your-brand-name
If that doesn't work, just reply to this email and I'll have a look for you.
Archetype Journey Icon 1 - The Innocent
The Innocent Archetype is proactively honest, transparent and wonder-ful.

Read the Innocent Archetype Brand Voice Brief

— on beating dragons

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
— the epigraph to Coraline, innocently reconstituted by Neil Gaiman from G.K. Chesterton's Tremendous Trifles

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

SDG 3's aim is to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages" and its 13 targets are designed to do so; from Reducing Maternal Mortality to Fighting Communicable Diseases and Achieving Universal Healthcare.
Archetype Journey Icon 2 - The Everyperson
The Everyperson Archetype is inclusive, individual and the salt of the earth.
They can often be spotted wearing their striped socks inside out.

Read The Everyperson Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Andean Flamingo, Bolivia, Everyperson Archetype

— failed attempts

"The myriad cultures of the world are not failed attempts at modernity, let alone failed attempts to be us. They are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart, unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When asked this question, the cultures of the world respond in 7,000 different voices, and these collectively comprise our human repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that will confront us as a species over the next 2,500 generations, even as we continue this never-ending journey."
— Wade Davis, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World [via The Stig in Tassie]

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

This Global Goal aims at eight targets to end world hunger; from ending malnutrition to maintaining the genetic diversity in foods. The "Things To Do" on this SDG's page basically boil down to "eat more vegetables" but we can do better than that can't we?
Archetype Journey Icon 3 - The Hero
The Hero Archetype is as humble and vulnerable as it is valiant.

Read The Hero Archetype Brand Voice Brief

— on motives

"What we believe to be the motives of our conduct are usually but the pretexts for it."
— Miguel De Unamuno, A Tragic Sense of Life [Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida]

SDG 1: No Poverty

I matched SDG 1, No Poverty, with The Hero archetype because heroic is the level of effort it's going to take to achieve its seven targets. We are making progress. The "Decade of Impact Report" talks about that.
Archetype Journey Icon 4 - The Caregiver
As gutsy as The Hero Archetype, The Caregiver Archetype embraces compassion and empathy.

Read The Caregiver Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Tibetan Bunting, Tibet, Caregiver Archetype

— the worst that can happen

​"An escalator cannot break. It can only become stairs."
Mitch Hedberg

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Thankfully the authors of SDG 5, Gender Equality, went beyond the token = symbol in its icon and tasked this goal with empowering all women and girls. On Monday, November 8 announced the winners of its Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. Here are the targets for SDG 5.
Archetype Journey Icon 5 - The Explorer
Explorer Archetype thinking is synonymous with bucking mainstream mores and myopic thinking — like an albatross and not all that unlike the Outlaw Archetype.

Read The Explorer Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Sooty Albatross, Antarctica, Explorer Archetype

— on failure

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Thomas Alva Edison

Goal 15: Life On Land

The targets for SDG 15 aren't specifically about people, which I think is a nice change because, as a species we have been such selfish, destructive asses.
Ultimately the SDGs are all about us righting as many wrongs as we can before 2030 so that we survive, but it is a breath of fresh air to read about us caring for this planet and the poor creatures that are stuck on it with us, which is what you'll find at the links below.

Here are SDG 15's targets and the UN's suggestions for supporting it.
Archetype Journey Icon 6 - The Outlaw
Although The Outlaw Archetype is challenging, confronting and sometimes disruptive, it's inherently honourable.

Read The Outlaw Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Long-tailed Duck, Norway, Outlaw Archetype

— on process

​"Writing is often the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about."
Shane Parrish, Farnam Street

Goal 13: Climate Action

The map element in the icon for SDG 13, Climate Action, actually looks like another planet, which would be great because that would mean we could just carry on buying shit and throwing it away for at least another generation. Unfortunately, if you look at it in motion on its official SDG page, you'll see it's just a view of earth taken by a drone from above Santa's workshop.
Archetype Journey Icon 7 - The Lover
The Lover Archetype seeks union, is comfortable in surrender, is dedicated and powered by passion and tenderness.

Read The Lover Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Western Crowned Pigeon, Papua New Guinea, Lover Archetype

— alternative aim

​"There is another way of saying this. Aim for the chopping block. If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block."
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

The principle of SDG 10 is that "when every individual is self sufficient, the entire world prospers." This Global Goal has 10 targets that are "big picture" macro-level benchmarks. Even the action items take effort and guts and humility and passion: like the Lover Archetype. What? You thought it was all about hugs and kisses?
Archetype Journey Icon 8 - The Creator
The Creator Archetype is imaginative, artistic and visionary.

It loathes inactivity, occasionally to the point of workaholism.

Read The Creator Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Mallefowl, Australia, Creator Archetype

— on reading

​"Mine was probably the last generation of child readers for whom the need for a fictive life would be assuaged primarily through reading; those that came later would satisfy this thirst not so much with words as with images, firstly the images of cartoons, then the images of cinema and lastly the images of television. I do not deplore this; I am merely pointing it out, and registering my joy at having been born at the right time, so that I would acquire the vice of reading. This is a vice that does not go unpunished, as Valéry pointed out: we pay dearly for it, in fact, through feeling dissatisfied with and mistrustful of life as it is, for it can never scale the heights and plummet to the depths that we invent, spurred on by our desires."
Mario Vargas Llosa, Touchstones

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Of all the SDGs, this one struck me as being uber-technical but when I listened to Greenlight Planet's Radhika Thakkar speak to James from the SDG Talks Podcast on October 8, 2021 about off-grid communities, individuals walking miles to charge their mobile phones, kids not having lights to study by — I got it.
GreenLight Planet's sun king website
The SDG 7 web page
Archetype Journey Icon 9 - The Ruler
The Ruler Archetype is challenged to temper ego with understanding, and to distinguish majesty from bravado.

Read The Ruler Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Snowy Owl, Canada, Ruler Archetype

— on the sixth day

​"On the sixth day of the invasion, Zelensky (sic) delivered a speech via video link to the European Parliament. 'Do prove that you are with us,' he implored through an interpreter, who seemed to choke back tears while translating the President’s words. 'Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans, and then life will win over death, and light will win over darkness.' As one observer noted, it was as if Charlie Chaplin had morphed into Winston Churchill."
Simon Shuster, 2-3-2022 in Time [Volodymyr Zelenskyy]

Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Whenever I read about SDG 16's mission to, "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels," I get a little overwhelmed.
We have been asleep at this planet's wheel for a long while.

The idea that I can connect these 17 goals and their 169 targets to this archetype and branding experiment gives it more meaning; and the idea of sharing them with you gets me out of bed in the morning — well that, the smell of coffee and needing to pee.
Archetype Journey Icon 10 - The Magician
A Magician brand must strive to weave delight between the lines of its visionary and intuitive story. Its tendency toward arrogance — expectations of colleagues and customers to read its mind — risks distancing its worth from its audience.

Read The Magician Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Green Peafowl, Thailand, Magician Archetype

— and more dragons

​"As the sun brightened above the eastern mists, the tiny wheeling flecks in the air that Arren watched seemed to sparkle, like gold-dust shaken in water, or dust-motes in a sunbeam. And then Arren realized that they were dragons."
— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

If SDG 11 was simply Sustainable Communities, the cities that are the confluences of those communities would magically look after themselves. We have to think small, local, community to achieve the larger, global goals. Read the targets for SDG 11
Archetype Journey Icon 11 - The Sage
The Sage is forever seeking balance; it struggles with idealism and its inability to compromise. "Listen more attentively" is sage advice for this archetype.

Read The Sage Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Three-wattled Bellbird, Costa Rica, Sage Archetype

— "greasy with retelling"

"They say there are only three rules for writing a book, Gene Paley said in what felt an anecdote greasy with retelling. Only no one can remember what they are."
— from First Person, by Richard Flanagan

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

I didn't align SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, with The Sage archetype because the colours of their icons are similar (just getting ahead of the few smart-assed subscribers who would have pointed that out — you know who you are). I chose the pairing because responsible production requires tough choices and forward-thinking leadership; two qualities that our dumb-assed decisions have been lacking.
Here is SDG 12 in detail.
Archetype Journey Icon 12 - The Jester
The Jester Archetype lives for the experience; it is naturally compelling, entertaining and delightful, and is challenged by the tripartite trap of self-importance, disingenuity and indifference.

Read The Jester Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Black Crowned Crane, Tanzania, Jester Archetype

— how to achieve alternative results

​"There’s nothing worse than taking any one of these screenwriting formulae – you follow that like a cookbook and you’re going to get a boring, predictable result. You have to have a twisty frame of mind. You want to twist the tail of the thing all the time … so you don’t get lazy and the audience isn’t steps ahead of you."
— Abhishek Anchliya in Making Ancient Tales Modern

Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation is a tough Global Goal to write about but I refuse to give in to the thinking that my generation and the last few before it have screwed this completely for my six grandkids.
Our World in Data illustrates the situation beautifully.
Charity Water illustrates working toward this Global Goal beautifully.
Here's the juice on SDG 6 from the Global Goals website.
Like more than 37,400 40,000 other species, Konos, our Pelican-in-Chief (a Dalmatian Pelican from Lake Prespa in Greece), and Jerry, our Chief Algorithm Officer (a Jerdon's Courser from Andhra Pradesh, India) are threatened with extinction and therefore difficult or impossible to find.

That's not the case with our 🍊 unsubscribe button, because unlike Konos and Jerry it's not the end of the world.

Read more about beautiful creatures like Konos and Jerry on the IUCN's Red List.