The use of Jungian archetypes has become a great hack everywhere from film scripts to dating sites. Websites and brand management are no exception. Once the basic concept is clear, you’ll see why it makes a lot of sense for financial websites.
How Jungian Archetypes Work
Archetypes refer to characters that can be found in stories across cultures. Their names may vary, but they are so recognizable that we accept them as universal. Essentially, the Jungian archetypes are little different from any other set of characters, whether they are from Greek Mythology, the Zodiac, or ‘The Seven’ from Game of Thrones. However, Jungian archetypes are useful because they are widely written about in a marketing context, providing a fixed point of reference.
These characters’ main asset is that they are intrinsic to global culture. This makes them familiar in a way that is extremely powerful and, according to neuroscience, helps us to remember information associated with them. This happens via common emotional patterns and the stories they trigger in the viewer’s unconscious, as well as the stories that brand managers construct for them.
So how does this benefit a financial website? Previous models of financial branding are not as solid as they once were. The more paternal, traditional brands such as the wise and dependable institution have been integral to offline financial branding for many years. However, negative personal experiences and the banking crisis have soured the credibility of this approach, leaving many consumers wary of this branding. But market context is just one part of the picture. Equally important are customer demographics and brand.
A major driver of branding is positioning a product or service to appeal to the kind of customer the financial institution is hoping to attract. Banks and financial services companies have aimed at gathering the widest customer base possible, which poses problems for Jungian archetypes.
With online services and niche markets expanding, targeted branding using Jungian archetypes makes sense for financial websites focusing on a particular demographic for their customer base.
Site development and content management all rely on tone to vector the information they provide. Finding the right brand for financial services can be a challenge – it needs to be both serious and engaging. By taking on an archetypal character, or even a combination of two or three of them, the information can be framed in such a way that it becomes more of a narrative with specific traits; a pre-packaged brand ‘identity.’
This way, it’s easier to find a narrative hook and strong adjectives that will enliven the writing, without blundering into hyperbole, because the archetypal character keeps the writing coherent to the brand, even when it’s pushing the envelope.
It’s in the use of images that archetype branding really takes off. Images for financial websites tend to be the same blue-gray pictures of white men looking down at documents, women and children jumping, or something that vaguely suggests digital via overlaid strings of soft focus binary code.
By digging into archetype branding, however, a completely different palate and symbolic language become available. This greater visual range can be employed without detracting from the brand message or identity. Archetype branding is much more visually exciting than traditional design.
The 12 archetypes:
The Innocent, also known as the orphan
Idealistic, pure, straight dealing, optimistic, kind and simple. Not many financial companies run with this archetype, but The Co-operative Bank is one example.
Strong, fierce, relentless, disciplined, like Paypal.
Real, honest, hardworking, fair. GoCompare.com, though not strictly a financial company, is one. Amalgamated Bank and Visa are also examples of this archetype.
Kind, generous, comforting; someone who serves. Several insurance companies aim for this archetype, including Legal and General, Guardian Life, and Prudential.
Spontaneous, fun, playful, and sometimes inappropriate. Virgin Money is a good example of this brand.
Freedom, self-improvement, discovery, daring, self-sufficiency. This seems like a space that’s waiting for a big player to fill it. Discover.com and Libertybank.net are giving it a go, and accounting software FreeAgent.com provides a masterclass.
The Outlaw / Revolutionary
Mould-breaking, tear down and rebuild. E*trade and Virgin.
Change-makers who cause us to shift our perspective, grandiose. Magicians are also logical, insightful, and analytical. Oracle.com is a classic example of the magician archetype – as are a lot of cloud-based services and quant-driven investment firms, such as Robeco.com.
Orientated towards the senses, deep connections and lasting relationships. This is more Dove soap and Hagen Daas than financial services.
Creative, driven, open-minded, determined. Usually associated with brands such as Lego and Apple, the creator archetype is rare in risk averse financial institutions. However, ally.com, Hellobank, and eLife online banking are all going there, and Commerce Bank online has arrived.
Authoritative, in control, responsible; always seeking improvement. Moody’s investment service.
Knowledgeable, objective, research orientated. Wisely even has an owl logo. Other Sage companies include Credit Insights and Personal Capital.
Financial websites are getting a lot livelier. If you want to stand out, consider looking at where your brand might go via archetypes.
Imagine how much more interesting and exciting your website could become. And use these archetypes to help attract the ideal customers looking for your product or service and style.