Brand Archetypes

Part Plato, Jung and Joe Campbell — archetypes are age-old lenses through which you can define and refine your brand voice: from colourful copy (and microcopy), to culture, personality, purpose, values and visuals.

The archetype cards below appear in alphabetical order. Here they are in a Hero’s Journey order: (1) The Innocent, (2) The Everyperson, (3) The Hero, (4) The Caregiver, (5) The Explorer, (6) The Outlaw, (7) The Lover, (8) The Creator, (9) The Ruler, (10) The Magician, (11) The Sage, (12) The Jester

Establishing your brand archetype is the first step in crafting a uniquely-you brand voice. Jerry, the name we gave our brand voice quiz algorithm (she’s a bird — it’s complicated), will expertly help you determine yours, like she has for thousands of other brands for free (or you can buy us a coffee).

Check out a sample Brand Voice Report 👉

⚕️

The Caregiver

So far, no Caregiver has reported being surprised at the news that their Brand Voice wears the proverbial scrubs in the archetype family.

Many, however, are at a loss as to how to message their mission graciously, with conviction and without sounding — or worse, becoming — narcissistic.

Part of the secret to doing so — the Hero's Journey part — is that The Caregiver character is influenced by the 'Meeting with the Mentor' stage. In other words, you have heard the muse's call to adventure and have arrived at the place on the path where you will be given the map, magic wand, confidence, better shoes, curlier hair, six-pack abs — whatever — to continue your search for the elixir, the holy grail or the meaning to life. Be grateful that a big heart is standard equipment on your model, and, unlike some, you are not averse to seeking counsel. Do that.

Of our dozen Jungian archetype recipes, The Caregiver is like vegan chocolate cake: the only things wrong with it are that [1] it's still cake (see better abs above), and [2] everybody thinks that no one can make chocolate cake as well as their grandmother. The solution of course is to "borrow" some ingredients from carrot cake (a.k.a. The Creator), and tomato soup cake (a.k.a. The Outlaw). Do that.

The challenge for writers and editors with Caregiver brands in hand is that the responsibility and empathy inherent in their stories weigh heavily on the message — as they naturally should of course — but the risk is an overabundance of cautious words, or undertones of helplessness and martyrdom.

In summary, your brand or personal story-telling future is not predestined to be the stuff of bedpans and baking paper. Although it's true that the Caregiver Archetype is naturally compassionate, aware and responsible, if you feel like your story is missing something, ask for help.

Foment something with these four touchstone words: chandler, mentor, soapstone (Qulliq), unsee.

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Caregiver and other good brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 5. Meeting with the Mentor

Sustainable Development Goal: The Caregiver Archetype's Global Goal is SDG 5: Gender Equality

For more insight into SDG 5:

🎭

The Creator

There are ancestral, possibly genetic, and maybe even mystical reasons why you create what you do; pottery, garlic dill pickles, watercolours, historical fiction or love letters to your grandkids. (Those last two examples are actually the same thing.)

"You've probably wondered what it is that makes you a maker," is how I began one rough draft of this Creator Archetype brief, and then I realized that in more than 50 years of writing, I don't remember ever once asking myself that question.

Either that's your story too and you struggle with feelings of inauthenticity and impostor syndrome like the rest of us, or you're frustrated that, once again, someone or something is labelling you a creator and it's not at all how you see yourself.

In both cases, imagination, perception and wonder, as magical as they sound, are just the garlic, dill and gherkins in your pickle. Sure, as Carl Jung wrote in Psychological Types in 1921, “We cannot, therefore, afford to be indifferent to the poets [poet was post-WWI code for pickle maker], since in their principal works and deepest inspirations they create from the very depths of the collective unconscious, voicing aloud what others only dream.”

People are interested in you, Creator, as much as they are in your creation.

In order to successfully harness the Creator potential and be content in doing so we need to balance production [code for workaholism] with introspection and equanimity. Luckily that's what we aim to do here.

Whether you're writing a recipe or a plea for more time, these four Creator touchstone words are for you: muster (not mustard); malleable (as in your feelings about being a Creator Archetype); conundrum (you); intimate (the verb).

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — connecting creators with other brand voices on the 12th of each month.

Hero's Journey Stage: 8. The Ordeal

Sustainable Development Goal: The Creator Archetype aligns with two Sustainable Development Goals: 7: Affordable and Clean Energy; 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

🌍

The Everyperson

There is a poem by Bill Stafford that begins, "There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change." Along with his famous thread, Dr. Stafford also referred to a hidden river that his life followed.

As an Everyperson (or Orphan, the name it sometimes goes by) you have sensed the meander of your hidden river and noticed the weave of your own life's thread.

Your narrative will speak of community and interdependence in a streetwise tone of voice. Your brand's tagline or your personal introduction — your elevator pitch — will present as confident and fair. You are visionary and a dreamer but you are not starry-eyed.

The Everyperson is first to hear the fabled Call to Adventure. How clearly you are able to interpret it and how closely you decide to follow it depend largely on your willingness to follow your thread and the course of your river.

If there was a sliding scale with The Explorer's almost genetic need for adventure at one end and The Lover Archetype's desire for intimate union at the other, you would be smack dab in the middle most days — and comfortably so.

Four touchstone words: purview, scaffold, static, suffrage

For touchstone words that everyone, including you Everyperson people need, subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for good brands — monthly on the 12th.

Hero's Journey Stage: 2. The Call to Adventure

Sustainable Development Goal: The Everyperson Archetype aligns with Global Goal 2: Zero Hunger. The UN's FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization ) has created a podcast called Target: Zero Hunger. There are 72 short episodes dating back to 2015. It's HQed in Rome and on Twitter.

🏔️

The Explorer

The tendencies that hobble the richness right out of an Explorer Archetype's story are avoidance and perfectionism.

Like any skipper you would be well-served on your adventure by keeping a captain's log and in it, documenting where you are [avoidance-busting], and the conditions as they are [perfection-crushing].

This archetype is also known as The Seeker, but Explorer is worth seven additional Scrabble points and it sounds more swashbuckling and less incense and sandals — but if the shoe fits…

In Hero's Journey story-speak, The Explorer is the character that exemplifies the fifth departure stage, "Crossing the Threshold to the Special World." In other words you are now committed and ambitious but you would be wise to be sensitive to the songlines and thin places at those thresholds.

Your mission is to prospect sensitively and respectfully. Your story's manifesto is to distinguish untethered from aimless; stoic from rigid.

Whether you are an explorer of sea or sky, ultimately your home port and Global Goal responsibility is to SDG 15: Life on Land.

Four touchstone words: pilgrim, pristine, riparian , toponym

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Explorer and other good brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 5. Crossing the Threshold to the Special World

Sustainable Development Goal: The Explorer Archetype aligns with SDG 15: Life On Land. Tune in to the SDG Talks Podcast episode, "Deforestation, Orangutans & Wildlife Conservation" with Deya Ward.

🛡️

The Hero

We remember legendary stereotypical heroes for the transformation they bring about through their gallantry, bravado and daring. But this Hero on this journey to craft an authentic story voice is the archetypical variety; a.k.a. you, wherever you are on your mission and for whatever reason you hoisted up or hobbited off in search of equanimity and justice.

You have a confident story to tell or brand to sell. You are the intrepid guide, the vulnerable love letter writer, the unflappable parent and engaging teacher.

The fact that you define yourself or your mission using heroic words means that you feel brave and determined enough to persevere. More than any other quality, it is perseverance through adversity that steels heroes, and audacity that is their Achilles heel.

The authentic Hero (also Warrior) avoids drama and spectacle. She senses strength by discerning what it is not. If your Brand Voice Archetype is The Hero your task is not to crow about your wins but to invite your audience into your story with all its warts, worries and wonder.

Be confident in the face of banana cream pies and wear your lion heart on your sleeve.

Four Hero's Story touchstone words: champion, chapter, lionhearted, resolute

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for hero and all other brand voices (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 3. Refusal of the Call

Sustainable Development Goal: The Hero Archetype is the champion for SDG1: No Poverty

Listen to Melissa Fleming's interview with Zainab Bangura, "I Know How it Feels to Grow Up in Poverty" on the Awake at Night Podcast (Season 3, Episode 5)

🌄

The Innocent

Cold is the absence of heat, or kinetic energy.

At one end of its spectrum, −273.15° C, or absolute zero, is theoretically as cold as cold can get. But, the consensus of all the Canadian and Norwegian quantum physicists we surveyed is that, thankfully, absolute zero cannot be achieved.

However, not unlike absolute zero, the absence of connected energy absolutely freezes the Innocent Archetype: without partnerships and associations it is adrift and off mission.

The goal of the Innocent Brand Voice is to communicate oneness. Its purpose is to exemplify virtue. It achieves those two difficult-to-quantify states through its integrity, sincerity and conviction.

We consistently find virtue and trustworthiness at the core of the authentic Innocent Archetype's story.

The disconnected Innocent would rather copy or contrast than create or engage, existing almost exclusively in draft mode where it snores.

It blossoms when it replaces cold, impersonal and factual with warm and messy affection.

See if you can inspire something with these four Innocent touchstone words: interbeing, ferment, shimmer, uncertainty

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — connecting archetype and brand goodness for good brands on the 12th of each month.

Hero's Journey Stage: 1. The Ordinary World

Sustainable Development Goal: The Innocent Archetype aligns with SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being. For more on SDG 3, tune in to the SDG Talks' 3-themed podcasts and follow the UN's SDG Action Campaign on Twitter.

🎡

The Jester

"One knot in a thread will stay the needle's passage as well as five hundred."
— Robert Bolton, 1635 (discovered in The Ashley Book of Knots, Clifford W. Ashley, 1944)

The Jester is the ultimate archetype; the aggregate of all the gains and losses on the Hero's Journey; it represents the Return with the Elixir. Its character is a stew of all the other archetypes served alongside its predecessor and counterpoint, The Sage.

You, Jester, are a lightkeeper of fascination and affection.

The Jester Archetype is a tricky brand voice to execute elegantly because it must demonstrate its intelligence, maturity with levity and sensitivity. Without those attributes, the choreographing of its light-hearted wit, welcoming, engaging and insightful (even prophetic) words rings trivial. For the purposes of uncovering and crafting authentic — even legendary — stories, we're interested in the quintessential jester, retained by kings and queens to speak their counsel freely where no other would dare.

Royalty or commoner, even surrounded as we are at times by despair in its myriad forms, The Jester's joy, delight and serendipity bubble. It floods shadow and doubt with storied fortunes of holy grails, sunken treasures and ordeals overcome with virtue, common sense and a dash of dumbassed luck.

However, just as an ailing Caregiver Brand Voice cannot be revived with multi-vitamin words, whenever the Jester slips from sensitive to silly and self-important, we need to re-engage its serenity and selflessness to offset the sounds of the jingle bells on the tips of its hat and its too-long shoes.

You could orchestrate a classic Jester brand voice with a chorus of David Attenborough, Katherine Johnson, Robin Williams and Mother Teresa.

The Jester has returned home from its journey with an elixir of wisdom, insight, talent, serenity and fridge magnets — oh my, the fridge magnets!

"Solo así, con la voluntad de la inmadurez, se pueden conseguir grandes cosas."
Only then, only when you’re wilfully immature, can you achieve great things.
Pedro Alonso (Berlin) La Casa de Papel

Four touchstone words: liminal, Möbius loop, proactivity, slapstick

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness — not just for Jester brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 12. Return with the Elixir

Sustainable Development Goal: The Jester Archetype aligns with SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. For more on SDG 6 tune in to Kevin and James on their SDG Talks Podcast as they follow SDG 6 from British Columbia to Bangladesh.

🔥

The Lover

There's a textbook breakup line that goes, "It's not you, it's me."

According to The Mathematics of Love 2.0, then, the inverse invitational equation must be, "It's not me, it's you."

Like either of those two lines — ending or beginning — you can often describe what something is by defining what it isn't; and in the land of brand voices, labouring over this one requires you, Lover, to be all about your listener.

If you can write a love letter — whether it's about your preference for puppies or your passion for the planet; a craving for soul food or your mission for whole food — then you can craft a Brand Voice for the Lover Archetype.

Falling head over heels with this archetype yet? No? Here are some bonus parts to the formula that might help:

  1. Examine The Everyperson. This seeker of community and defender of independence complements The Lover's desire for union and surrender.
  2. Study The Innocent. This champion of virtue and oneness contrasts with your Lover values of passion and dedication.

Global Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, is the Sustainable Development Goal that aligns perfectly with the Lover Archetype, "[…] equality and prosperity must be available to everyone - regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs or economic status."

This is the higher order of the Lover Archetype and sounds a lot like the lyrics to Steve Winwood's "Higher Love."

In the September 21, 2021 episode (Season 4, Episode 5) of the Awake at Night podcast, "Keep Going for the Children of Afghanistan," Melissa Fleming speaks to UNICEF’s Chief of Communications in Afghanistan, Sam Mort.

If your quiz experience left you feeling like you were having to choose adjectives to describe your voice that were close, but not quite the proverbial "cigar," I chose four challenging touchstone words to inspire your exploration of this threshold Archetype: cadence, ethnosphere, ubiquity, vestigial

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Lover and lovable brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 7. Approach to the Innermost Cave

🔮

The Magician

Abracadabra might sound a lot like a-brand-cadabra, but sadly, being a Magician brand won't make your story's 'home to Kansas' journey as simple as reciting that incantation or clicking the heels of two ruby red slippers together.

The good news is that, like The Ruler Archetype, you are able to savour and see the humour in the adage, "Relax, nothing's under control." Unlike the Ruler, however, you don't feel responsible to correct that problem.

Magician brands stand on foundations of faith: faith that is not blind — foundations that you may need to uncover. Your story sounds of serenity. You don't require the certainty of structure like the Ruler archetype. You revel in change but you despair at illusion and stasis.

You are a force to be reckoned with — your ego is a force your storytelling must reckon with.

Your vision, intuition (and magic words, of course) are your super powers. Unreasonable expectations of your colleagues' and your customers' abilities to read your mind are their Kryptonite.

Four touchstone words: humility, connection, tincture, alchemy

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for good brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 10. The Road Back

Sustainable Development Goal: The Magician Archetype aligns with SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. For more on SDG 11, tune in to Kevin and James' SDG Talks' #11-themed podcasts and follow The Global Academy on Twitter.

🏴‍☠️

The Outlaw

No surprise. Climates of economic, environmental and social disenfranchisement give birth to brands and positions that wrap themselves in The Outlaw Archetype's colours.

Start-ups, and even established brands facing a pivot-or-die moment, will resonate with the almost structural need of this brand voice to challenge, confront, disrupt and redefine. Be on the lookout for feverish temperatures in your tone.

How is the language of authentic and righteous Outlaws different (other than spelling) from 18th century Pyrates?

1724's "A General History of the Pyrates," although attributed by some to Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe's dad), was more likely a collection of wildly exaggerated character fabrications by period publishers to ... three guesses — first two don't count — sell newspapers. Sound familiar? 🙄

We know from this stage of the Hero's Journey, wherein we find the Outlaw beset by "Tests, Allies and Enemies" that if your current assignment is a fairy tale, tagline, first date plea or funding presentation; whether you are facing a dragon, prince-ss, witch or board of directors — the success of your endeavour — maybe even your hero's survival in this world — depends on choosing your words wisely.

We also know this archetype by the names rebel and destroyer.

We can divine authenticity in an Outlaw by listening for evidence of underlying Creator and Hero ideals that underscore its (sometimes reckless) drive for reform. We can listen for it to speak with honour and for it to voice its vulnerability.

Four touchstone words: atmosphere, contrast, play possum, rail

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for outlaws, rebels and Jedis (monthly on the 12th).
Hero's Journey Stage: 6. Tests, Allies and Enemies
Sustainable Development Goal: The Outlaw Archetype is passionate about two Global Goals; SDG 13: Climate Action, and SDG 14: Life Below Water

For more on SDG 13, tune in to Kevin and James' SDG Talks' SDG 13: Climate Change podcasts, follow SDG 13 trends on Twitter.

Listen to SDG 14: Life Below Water podcasts at SDG Talks and Concrete Action for Life Below Water, at What if We Get it Right with Dr. Shimrit Perkol Finkel, CEO and chief scientist at ECOncrete.

🦁

The Ruler

“Don’t just do something, sit there!”

For an archetype most often associated with dominion, those words, from Thich Nhat Hanh's, "Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet," probably sound a little counter-intuitive to a Ruler like you, but the Plum Village Tradition that the Vietnamese monk co-founded in 1982 is built on just that zen mastery of humour and humility.

In contrast to Brand Voice Archetypes like The Caregiver and The Outlaw, which probably look (from a Ruler's perspective at least) like they're easier to define and refine, the most basic requirement for an authentic Ruler Brand Voice is that you own the rules, their burden of responsibility, and that you do so with grace (and once every aeon or so, with dragons).

Brands with voices in the key of Ruler struggle to distill the umami, or unique flavour, of authenticity in their narrative because the word comes with so much bling and baggage. Like The Hero and Jester, this archetype's brand voice challenges lie in tempering traditional egos with understanding, and distinguishing majesty from bravado with magic and mystery.

Knowing that the complimentary archetype to The Hero is The Sage and your contrasting cousin is The Magician may help my liege. If you're the kind of ruler that has in-house courtiers, you can have one of them send us a missive for support. Additionally you can subscribe to inwords for legendary archetype and brand goodness for cooler Ruler brands (monthly on the 12th).

Four touchstone words: governail, parable, redoubt, spire

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords.

Hero's Journey Stage: 9. The Reward (the final Initiation stage)

Sustainable Development Goals: The Ruler Archetype is reflected in two Global Goals, SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

For more on SDG 9, tune in to Kevin and James' SDG Talks 9-themed and 16-themed podcast episodes

If you're a podcast loving Ruler writer tune into Jason and Carissa's Myths and Legends.

🦉

The Sage

"Every mathematician believes that he is ahead of the others. The reason none state this belief in public is because they are intelligent people."

Andrey Kolmogorov, Soviet Mathematician (1903-1987)

Think back to the last race you ran, exam you wrote, debate you argued. There was a watershed moment just before the finish when you understood the stakes more clearly than ever; whether you had what it would take to finish with honour (not necessarily whether you would win) and if your effort was commensurate with your intention — your manifesto.

That is the essence of the Sage: effort, wisdom, ingenuity, purpose, substance.

The Sage Archetype lives at the penultimate stage of the Hero's Journey; second to last, eleventh of twelve. This archetype is the pinnacle of our Hero's Journey. It is followed by the Jester, finds structure in The Ruler's integrity and levity in the joy of The Jester. Over the course of our adventure any brashness in the confidence of the Explorer has matured into the solid certainty of the Sage.

To tell a successful Sage story is to offer understanding and vision, restraint, and resolve. The Sage lets us know that there are answers but it doesn't reveal what they are.

Four touchstone words: animism, climax, prodigious, sylvan

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Sage brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 11. The Renaissance or Resurrection

Sustainable Development Goal: The Sage Archetype aligns with Global Goals 4: Quality Education and 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Listen in for more on SDG 4 at the SDG Talks Podcast, especially the November 15, 2020 episode with Avi Jhangiani

For more on SDG 12, tune in to Elsbeth Callaghan's Practical(ly) Zero Waste podcast.

⚕️

The Caregiver

So far, no Caregiver has reported being surprised at the news that their Brand Voice wears the proverbial scrubs in the archetype family.

Many, however, are at a loss as to how to message their mission graciously, with conviction and without sounding — or worse, becoming — narcissistic.

Part of the secret to doing so — the Hero's Journey part — is that The Caregiver character is influenced by the 'Meeting with the Mentor' stage. In other words, you have heard the muse's call to adventure and have arrived at the place on the path where you will be given the map, magic wand, confidence, better shoes, curlier hair, six-pack abs — whatever — to continue your search for the elixir, the holy grail or the meaning to life. Be grateful that a big heart is standard equipment on your model, and, unlike some, you are not averse to seeking counsel. Do that.

Of our dozen Jungian archetype recipes, The Caregiver is like vegan chocolate cake: the only things wrong with it are that [1] it's still cake (see better abs above), and [2] everybody thinks that no one can make chocolate cake as well as their grandmother. The solution of course is to "borrow" some ingredients from carrot cake (a.k.a. The Creator), and tomato soup cake (a.k.a. The Outlaw). Do that.

The challenge for writers and editors with Caregiver brands in hand is that the responsibility and empathy inherent in their stories weigh heavily on the message — as they naturally should of course — but the risk is an overabundance of cautious words, or undertones of helplessness and martyrdom.

In summary, your brand or personal story-telling future is not predestined to be the stuff of bedpans and baking paper. Although it's true that the Caregiver Archetype is naturally compassionate, aware and responsible, if you feel like your story is missing something, ask for help.

Foment something with these four touchstone words: chandler, mentor, soapstone (Qulliq), unsee.

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Caregiver and other good brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 5. Meeting with the Mentor

Sustainable Development Goal: The Caregiver Archetype's Global Goal is SDG 5: Gender Equality

For more insight into SDG 5:

🌍

The Everyperson

There is a poem by Bill Stafford that begins, "There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change." Along with his famous thread, Dr. Stafford also referred to a hidden river that his life followed.

As an Everyperson (or Orphan, the name it sometimes goes by) you have sensed the meander of your hidden river and noticed the weave of your own life's thread.

Your narrative will speak of community and interdependence in a streetwise tone of voice. Your brand's tagline or your personal introduction — your elevator pitch — will present as confident and fair. You are visionary and a dreamer but you are not starry-eyed.

The Everyperson is first to hear the fabled Call to Adventure. How clearly you are able to interpret it and how closely you decide to follow it depend largely on your willingness to follow your thread and the course of your river.

If there was a sliding scale with The Explorer's almost genetic need for adventure at one end and The Lover Archetype's desire for intimate union at the other, you would be smack dab in the middle most days — and comfortably so.

Four touchstone words: purview, scaffold, static, suffrage

For touchstone words that everyone, including you Everyperson people need, subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for good brands — monthly on the 12th.

Hero's Journey Stage: 2. The Call to Adventure

Sustainable Development Goal: The Everyperson Archetype aligns with Global Goal 2: Zero Hunger. The UN's FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization ) has created a podcast called Target: Zero Hunger. There are 72 short episodes dating back to 2015. It's HQed in Rome and on Twitter.

🛡️

The Hero

We remember legendary stereotypical heroes for the transformation they bring about through their gallantry, bravado and daring. But this Hero on this journey to craft an authentic story voice is the archetypical variety; a.k.a. you, wherever you are on your mission and for whatever reason you hoisted up or hobbited off in search of equanimity and justice.

You have a confident story to tell or brand to sell. You are the intrepid guide, the vulnerable love letter writer, the unflappable parent and engaging teacher.

The fact that you define yourself or your mission using heroic words means that you feel brave and determined enough to persevere. More than any other quality, it is perseverance through adversity that steels heroes, and audacity that is their Achilles heel.

The authentic Hero (also Warrior) avoids drama and spectacle. She senses strength by discerning what it is not. If your Brand Voice Archetype is The Hero your task is not to crow about your wins but to invite your audience into your story with all its warts, worries and wonder.

Be confident in the face of banana cream pies and wear your lion heart on your sleeve.

Four Hero's Story touchstone words: champion, chapter, lionhearted, resolute

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for hero and all other brand voices (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 3. Refusal of the Call

Sustainable Development Goal: The Hero Archetype is the champion for SDG1: No Poverty

Listen to Melissa Fleming's interview with Zainab Bangura, "I Know How it Feels to Grow Up in Poverty" on the Awake at Night Podcast (Season 3, Episode 5)

🎡

The Jester

"One knot in a thread will stay the needle's passage as well as five hundred."
— Robert Bolton, 1635 (discovered in The Ashley Book of Knots, Clifford W. Ashley, 1944)

The Jester is the ultimate archetype; the aggregate of all the gains and losses on the Hero's Journey; it represents the Return with the Elixir. Its character is a stew of all the other archetypes served alongside its predecessor and counterpoint, The Sage.

You, Jester, are a lightkeeper of fascination and affection.

The Jester Archetype is a tricky brand voice to execute elegantly because it must demonstrate its intelligence, maturity with levity and sensitivity. Without those attributes, the choreographing of its light-hearted wit, welcoming, engaging and insightful (even prophetic) words rings trivial. For the purposes of uncovering and crafting authentic — even legendary — stories, we're interested in the quintessential jester, retained by kings and queens to speak their counsel freely where no other would dare.

Royalty or commoner, even surrounded as we are at times by despair in its myriad forms, The Jester's joy, delight and serendipity bubble. It floods shadow and doubt with storied fortunes of holy grails, sunken treasures and ordeals overcome with virtue, common sense and a dash of dumbassed luck.

However, just as an ailing Caregiver Brand Voice cannot be revived with multi-vitamin words, whenever the Jester slips from sensitive to silly and self-important, we need to re-engage its serenity and selflessness to offset the sounds of the jingle bells on the tips of its hat and its too-long shoes.

You could orchestrate a classic Jester brand voice with a chorus of David Attenborough, Katherine Johnson, Robin Williams and Mother Teresa.

The Jester has returned home from its journey with an elixir of wisdom, insight, talent, serenity and fridge magnets — oh my, the fridge magnets!

"Solo así, con la voluntad de la inmadurez, se pueden conseguir grandes cosas."
Only then, only when you’re wilfully immature, can you achieve great things.
Pedro Alonso (Berlin) La Casa de Papel

Four touchstone words: liminal, Möbius loop, proactivity, slapstick

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness — not just for Jester brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 12. Return with the Elixir

Sustainable Development Goal: The Jester Archetype aligns with SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. For more on SDG 6 tune in to Kevin and James on their SDG Talks Podcast as they follow SDG 6 from British Columbia to Bangladesh.

🔮

The Magician

Abracadabra might sound a lot like a-brand-cadabra, but sadly, being a Magician brand won't make your story's 'home to Kansas' journey as simple as reciting that incantation or clicking the heels of two ruby red slippers together.

The good news is that, like The Ruler Archetype, you are able to savour and see the humour in the adage, "Relax, nothing's under control." Unlike the Ruler, however, you don't feel responsible to correct that problem.

Magician brands stand on foundations of faith: faith that is not blind — foundations that you may need to uncover. Your story sounds of serenity. You don't require the certainty of structure like the Ruler archetype. You revel in change but you despair at illusion and stasis.

You are a force to be reckoned with — your ego is a force your storytelling must reckon with.

Your vision, intuition (and magic words, of course) are your super powers. Unreasonable expectations of your colleagues' and your customers' abilities to read your mind are their Kryptonite.

Four touchstone words: humility, connection, tincture, alchemy

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for good brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 10. The Road Back

Sustainable Development Goal: The Magician Archetype aligns with SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. For more on SDG 11, tune in to Kevin and James' SDG Talks' #11-themed podcasts and follow The Global Academy on Twitter.

🦁

The Ruler

“Don’t just do something, sit there!”

For an archetype most often associated with dominion, those words, from Thich Nhat Hanh's, "Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet," probably sound a little counter-intuitive to a Ruler like you, but the Plum Village Tradition that the Vietnamese monk co-founded in 1982 is built on just that zen mastery of humour and humility.

In contrast to Brand Voice Archetypes like The Caregiver and The Outlaw, which probably look (from a Ruler's perspective at least) like they're easier to define and refine, the most basic requirement for an authentic Ruler Brand Voice is that you own the rules, their burden of responsibility, and that you do so with grace (and once every aeon or so, with dragons).

Brands with voices in the key of Ruler struggle to distill the umami, or unique flavour, of authenticity in their narrative because the word comes with so much bling and baggage. Like The Hero and Jester, this archetype's brand voice challenges lie in tempering traditional egos with understanding, and distinguishing majesty from bravado with magic and mystery.

Knowing that the complimentary archetype to The Hero is The Sage and your contrasting cousin is The Magician may help my liege. If you're the kind of ruler that has in-house courtiers, you can have one of them send us a missive for support. Additionally you can subscribe to inwords for legendary archetype and brand goodness for cooler Ruler brands (monthly on the 12th).

Four touchstone words: governail, parable, redoubt, spire

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords.

Hero's Journey Stage: 9. The Reward (the final Initiation stage)

Sustainable Development Goals: The Ruler Archetype is reflected in two Global Goals, SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

For more on SDG 9, tune in to Kevin and James' SDG Talks 9-themed and 16-themed podcast episodes

If you're a podcast loving Ruler writer tune into Jason and Carissa's Myths and Legends.

🎭

The Creator

There are ancestral, possibly genetic, and maybe even mystical reasons why you create what you do; pottery, garlic dill pickles, watercolours, historical fiction or love letters to your grandkids. (Those last two examples are actually the same thing.)

"You've probably wondered what it is that makes you a maker," is how I began one rough draft of this Creator Archetype brief, and then I realized that in more than 50 years of writing, I don't remember ever once asking myself that question.

Either that's your story too and you struggle with feelings of inauthenticity and impostor syndrome like the rest of us, or you're frustrated that, once again, someone or something is labelling you a creator and it's not at all how you see yourself.

In both cases, imagination, perception and wonder, as magical as they sound, are just the garlic, dill and gherkins in your pickle. Sure, as Carl Jung wrote in Psychological Types in 1921, “We cannot, therefore, afford to be indifferent to the poets [poet was post-WWI code for pickle maker], since in their principal works and deepest inspirations they create from the very depths of the collective unconscious, voicing aloud what others only dream.”

People are interested in you, Creator, as much as they are in your creation.

In order to successfully harness the Creator potential and be content in doing so we need to balance production [code for workaholism] with introspection and equanimity. Luckily that's what we aim to do here.

Whether you're writing a recipe or a plea for more time, these four Creator touchstone words are for you: muster (not mustard); malleable (as in your feelings about being a Creator Archetype); conundrum (you); intimate (the verb).

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — connecting creators with other brand voices on the 12th of each month.

Hero's Journey Stage: 8. The Ordeal

Sustainable Development Goal: The Creator Archetype aligns with two Sustainable Development Goals: 7: Affordable and Clean Energy; 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

🏔️

The Explorer

The tendencies that hobble the richness right out of an Explorer Archetype's story are avoidance and perfectionism.

Like any skipper you would be well-served on your adventure by keeping a captain's log and in it, documenting where you are [avoidance-busting], and the conditions as they are [perfection-crushing].

This archetype is also known as The Seeker, but Explorer is worth seven additional Scrabble points and it sounds more swashbuckling and less incense and sandals — but if the shoe fits…

In Hero's Journey story-speak, The Explorer is the character that exemplifies the fifth departure stage, "Crossing the Threshold to the Special World." In other words you are now committed and ambitious but you would be wise to be sensitive to the songlines and thin places at those thresholds.

Your mission is to prospect sensitively and respectfully. Your story's manifesto is to distinguish untethered from aimless; stoic from rigid.

Whether you are an explorer of sea or sky, ultimately your home port and Global Goal responsibility is to SDG 15: Life on Land.

Four touchstone words: pilgrim, pristine, riparian , toponym

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Explorer and other good brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 5. Crossing the Threshold to the Special World

Sustainable Development Goal: The Explorer Archetype aligns with SDG 15: Life On Land. Tune in to the SDG Talks Podcast episode, "Deforestation, Orangutans & Wildlife Conservation" with Deya Ward.

🌄

The Innocent

Cold is the absence of heat, or kinetic energy.

At one end of its spectrum, −273.15° C, or absolute zero, is theoretically as cold as cold can get. But, the consensus of all the Canadian and Norwegian quantum physicists we surveyed is that, thankfully, absolute zero cannot be achieved.

However, not unlike absolute zero, the absence of connected energy absolutely freezes the Innocent Archetype: without partnerships and associations it is adrift and off mission.

The goal of the Innocent Brand Voice is to communicate oneness. Its purpose is to exemplify virtue. It achieves those two difficult-to-quantify states through its integrity, sincerity and conviction.

We consistently find virtue and trustworthiness at the core of the authentic Innocent Archetype's story.

The disconnected Innocent would rather copy or contrast than create or engage, existing almost exclusively in draft mode where it snores.

It blossoms when it replaces cold, impersonal and factual with warm and messy affection.

See if you can inspire something with these four Innocent touchstone words: interbeing, ferment, shimmer, uncertainty

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — connecting archetype and brand goodness for good brands on the 12th of each month.

Hero's Journey Stage: 1. The Ordinary World

Sustainable Development Goal: The Innocent Archetype aligns with SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being. For more on SDG 3, tune in to the SDG Talks' 3-themed podcasts and follow the UN's SDG Action Campaign on Twitter.

🔥

The Lover

There's a textbook breakup line that goes, "It's not you, it's me."

According to The Mathematics of Love 2.0, then, the inverse invitational equation must be, "It's not me, it's you."

Like either of those two lines — ending or beginning — you can often describe what something is by defining what it isn't; and in the land of brand voices, labouring over this one requires you, Lover, to be all about your listener.

If you can write a love letter — whether it's about your preference for puppies or your passion for the planet; a craving for soul food or your mission for whole food — then you can craft a Brand Voice for the Lover Archetype.

Falling head over heels with this archetype yet? No? Here are some bonus parts to the formula that might help:

  1. Examine The Everyperson. This seeker of community and defender of independence complements The Lover's desire for union and surrender.
  2. Study The Innocent. This champion of virtue and oneness contrasts with your Lover values of passion and dedication.

Global Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, is the Sustainable Development Goal that aligns perfectly with the Lover Archetype, "[…] equality and prosperity must be available to everyone - regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs or economic status."

This is the higher order of the Lover Archetype and sounds a lot like the lyrics to Steve Winwood's "Higher Love."

In the September 21, 2021 episode (Season 4, Episode 5) of the Awake at Night podcast, "Keep Going for the Children of Afghanistan," Melissa Fleming speaks to UNICEF’s Chief of Communications in Afghanistan, Sam Mort.

If your quiz experience left you feeling like you were having to choose adjectives to describe your voice that were close, but not quite the proverbial "cigar," I chose four challenging touchstone words to inspire your exploration of this threshold Archetype: cadence, ethnosphere, ubiquity, vestigial

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Lover and lovable brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 7. Approach to the Innermost Cave

🏴‍☠️

The Outlaw

No surprise. Climates of economic, environmental and social disenfranchisement give birth to brands and positions that wrap themselves in The Outlaw Archetype's colours.

Start-ups, and even established brands facing a pivot-or-die moment, will resonate with the almost structural need of this brand voice to challenge, confront, disrupt and redefine. Be on the lookout for feverish temperatures in your tone.

How is the language of authentic and righteous Outlaws different (other than spelling) from 18th century Pyrates?

1724's "A General History of the Pyrates," although attributed by some to Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe's dad), was more likely a collection of wildly exaggerated character fabrications by period publishers to ... three guesses — first two don't count — sell newspapers. Sound familiar? 🙄

We know from this stage of the Hero's Journey, wherein we find the Outlaw beset by "Tests, Allies and Enemies" that if your current assignment is a fairy tale, tagline, first date plea or funding presentation; whether you are facing a dragon, prince-ss, witch or board of directors — the success of your endeavour — maybe even your hero's survival in this world — depends on choosing your words wisely.

We also know this archetype by the names rebel and destroyer.

We can divine authenticity in an Outlaw by listening for evidence of underlying Creator and Hero ideals that underscore its (sometimes reckless) drive for reform. We can listen for it to speak with honour and for it to voice its vulnerability.

Four touchstone words: atmosphere, contrast, play possum, rail

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for outlaws, rebels and Jedis (monthly on the 12th).
Hero's Journey Stage: 6. Tests, Allies and Enemies
Sustainable Development Goal: The Outlaw Archetype is passionate about two Global Goals; SDG 13: Climate Action, and SDG 14: Life Below Water

For more on SDG 13, tune in to Kevin and James' SDG Talks' SDG 13: Climate Change podcasts, follow SDG 13 trends on Twitter.

Listen to SDG 14: Life Below Water podcasts at SDG Talks and Concrete Action for Life Below Water, at What if We Get it Right with Dr. Shimrit Perkol Finkel, CEO and chief scientist at ECOncrete.

🦉

The Sage

"Every mathematician believes that he is ahead of the others. The reason none state this belief in public is because they are intelligent people."

Andrey Kolmogorov, Soviet Mathematician (1903-1987)

Think back to the last race you ran, exam you wrote, debate you argued. There was a watershed moment just before the finish when you understood the stakes more clearly than ever; whether you had what it would take to finish with honour (not necessarily whether you would win) and if your effort was commensurate with your intention — your manifesto.

That is the essence of the Sage: effort, wisdom, ingenuity, purpose, substance.

The Sage Archetype lives at the penultimate stage of the Hero's Journey; second to last, eleventh of twelve. This archetype is the pinnacle of our Hero's Journey. It is followed by the Jester, finds structure in The Ruler's integrity and levity in the joy of The Jester. Over the course of our adventure any brashness in the confidence of the Explorer has matured into the solid certainty of the Sage.

To tell a successful Sage story is to offer understanding and vision, restraint, and resolve. The Sage lets us know that there are answers but it doesn't reveal what they are.

Four touchstone words: animism, climax, prodigious, sylvan

For more touchstone words subscribe to inwords — legendary archetype and brand goodness for Sage brands (monthly on the 12th).

Hero's Journey Stage: 11. The Renaissance or Resurrection

Sustainable Development Goal: The Sage Archetype aligns with Global Goals 4: Quality Education and 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Listen in for more on SDG 4 at the SDG Talks Podcast, especially the November 15, 2020 episode with Avi Jhangiani

For more on SDG 12, tune in to Elsbeth Callaghan's Practical(ly) Zero Waste podcast.