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The Hero Archetype

~Sukhdeep Papriwal, Deepa Soman

The Archetypal Hero

Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behaviour on interaction with the outside world

Archetype characters have stayed with us for a reason. They embody something we as a society want or need or think. Every Archetype addresses a underlying universal human need.

Successful brands have a strong sense of identity, one that mirrors the hopes and aspirations of their customers. But finding a voice especially as a small business can be difficult and expensive. Brand archetypes help you connect instantly with your audience.


All stories have a protagonist, but all narratives have a hero. So if you’re telling a narrative of your own experiences, then you are the hero. Heroes are brave, selfless, stand up to the bad guy and defend the underdog. Whether it’s as an individual, a group, or even someone else entirely, there’s real power in framing the subject of your talk as a heroic archetype, or model.

Hero comes in all shapes & sizes. Their power lies in who they are – their determination, courage and perseverance. They fight for what they believe in and don’t let anything come in their way. They face their challenges head on and triumph over them, inspiring others to do the same.

The archetypal hero appears in all religions, mythologies and epics of the world. He is an expression of our personal and collective unconscious.

Figure out what sort of hero you or your subject is, and you figure out why their story is worth telling. Here are seven heroic archetypes you can consider. Of course, you aren’t limited to one. A single person could be all archetypes at different times or when viewed through different lenses.

Willing, active, gung-ho heroes: (Tarzan, King Arthur, Luke Skywalker): Committed to the adventure, Without doubts, Always bravely going ahead, Self-motivated.

Unwilling heroes: (Frodo Baggins, Spiderman, Han Solo): Full of doubts, Hesitant, Passive, Needing to be motivated or pushed into the adventure by an outside force, Usually change at some point and become committed to the adventure.

Anti-heroes: (Billy the Kid, Jack Sparo, “Bride” from Kill Bill) : Specialised kind of hero, May be outlaws or villains from the point of view of society, Audience is in sympathy with them, They may win in the end over society’s corruption.

Rebels Tragic heroes: (Darth Vader, Brutus): Flawed heroes, Never overcome their inner demons, Brought down and destroyed by inner demons, May be charming ,Their flaw wins in the end.

Group-oriented heroes: (Nemo, Simba): Are a part of society at the beginning, Journey takes them to unknown land far from home, Separate from group – have lone adventure in the wilderness away from the group which they eventually rejoin.

Loner heroes: (Indiana Jones, Incredible Hulk): Story begins with hero apart from society, Natural habitat is the wilderness, Natural state is solitude, Journey is one of re-entry into the group, an adventure within the group, then a return to isolation.

Catalyst heroes: (Teacher from Dead Poets Society, any mentor): Central figures who act heroically, Don’t change much themselves, Main function is to bring about change in others

Understanding and leveraging your Hero Brand Archetype

Goal: Expert mastery through courageous acts in a way that improves the world

Greatest fear: Weakness, vulnerability, body or mind giving out

Weakness: Arrogance, always needing another battle to fight, egocentricity, aggression

Talent: Competence, courage, energy, determination

AKA: The warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, the soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player, competitor, dragon Slayer, crusader, achiever, coach

Voice: Motivational, self-confident, self-disciplined, direct

What customers FEEL: Inspired, strong, “I can overcome this challenge with massive action,” empowered, determined, motivated

All archetypal heroes share certain characteristics. Heroes are brave, selfless, stand up to the bad guy and defend the underdog. Brands that shape themselves after the Hero sell themselves to their customers as the one who is going to rescue them from their woes.

Hero customers value quality and efficiency in their products. They like to think their consumer choices will put them ahead of everyone else, and aren’t likely to be swayed by cute or funny adverts.

Hero brands promise triumph. Hero businesses promote themselves as good quality and superior to their competition. The worst thing that can happen to a hero business is for a competitor to be rated higher or proven to be better value.

The Hero identity may be right for your brand if:

  • You have an invention or innovation that will have a major impact on the world
  • Your product helps people perform at their upper limit
  • You are addressing a major social problem and asking people to step up to the plate to help address it
  • You have a clear opponent or competitor you want to beat
  • You are the underdog and want to rival the competition
  • The strength of your product or service is its ability to do a tough job efficiently and well
  • You need to differentiate your product from one that has problems with follow-through
  • Your customer base identifies itself as good, moral citizens






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