By: Anika Repole Wilson
In 1934, psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology; Carl Jung published his work ‘The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious’, stirring the pot as it were, in early Psychology leading to further advancement and dynamism in the field. Why is this relevant? Well - Jung introduced then the concept of the Collective Unconscious, wherein subconcepts of Archetypes exist - these archetypes simply put, are universally shared, categorical understandings of how we perceive our world, things within it and thus ourselves.
You may not have been aware of this theoretical approach but whether you knew it or not, you most certainly are aware of Archetypes. Regardless of culture and time in history, Archetypes exist, crossing language barriers, educational background etc to define various behavioural and social constructs. Examples include The Mother, The Rebel, The Lover and what we will cover in this Brand Study; the Hero. Since Jung outlined his Archetypes in 1934, they have evolved only minimally, and individuals have applied them to various fields of study since; such as Marketing.
In crafting your brand strategy, it is helpful to understand the desired Archetype you wish to convey subconsciously to your audience. You do so through the intention placed behind your design elements; colours, typography, creative direction and tone of voice in communication. This creates the personality of your brand, something with which your audience naturally aligns to based on either similarity or aspiration. In other words, you can mindfully craft a Brand Archetype which your desired audience either perceives they need in their lives or wishes to be themselves. In the case of IceCream giant; Ben & Jerry’s - the Hero.
Before we nose-dive into the world of ice-cream, we first need to cover a fundamental understanding of the difference between Company Values and Brand Values. Company/ Business Values are created and outlined by the business, while Brand Values, though typically identified by the company, are fundamentally influenced and determined by the public.
Similarly, your brand identity can be visually created by the business, along with the personality of the brand, but it means nothing without the public to perceive it and draw a conclusion - this conclusion is the fulsome understanding and experience of your brand. Your business is determined by you - your brand is determined by the public.
Like most nuances about entrepreneurship, understanding Client Compatibility, may be something that can’t be taught, but rather experienced. Over time, most service oriented entrepreneurs learn these subtleties about client relationships usually through tremendous trial and error and considerable stress.
It was after one of these experiences in 2019, after only what I could describe as a bad break-up (and there have been many) with a client when I thought, there has got to be a better way for me to decide who my ideal client is. If you’re anything like me, you become personally invested in your client relationships. These relationships are quite close and intimate - I give of my time and energy. They take me away from my family and personal time, I become emotionally invested in their success, I feel their losses, I share in their excitement. Even though I tried at times to adjust my level of emotional investment in clients, for sake of what I thought was self-preservation, I realized quickly this is what makes me - me and what makes the experience of working with me unique.
I thought, if I give my clients the attention of a lover/friend/family, why not examine the dynamic just as closely, it was then Dr. Gary Chapman’s Love Languages screamed loudly as a possible solution.
The Five Love Languages
Journey with me down the rabbit hole (pun intended) as I explore various brands, their efforts in building Community and other key observations I have made of them as a Brand Enthusiast and Marketer.
First, A note on Community
As a Caribbean National, my passion for community is deeply rooted in my DNA; where it and culture go hand in hand. Community has also been a way that I have personally coped with what life has thrown at me. Having bonded with strangers over our mutual love for Linkin Park (LP fans reading this - #MakeChesterProud) and the unspoken acknowledgement of what that means. I have founded and been a part of Mom-focused communities to figure out how to cope as a new parent while grieving the loss of my own parents - in other words, I see and appreciate the value of community.
By definition; Community refers to a group of people who share characteristics, interests, attitudes, circumstances or even goals. Originally, communities were usually assumed to be based on locale, but as the world and technology have evolved, communities are no longer largely restricted by geographic location. Whether by intention or not, brands have also played an integral role in this social evolution, in many ways, becoming the framework of modern-day pop culture and even some sociological constructs - Playboy is one such brand.
So why Playboy?
The Power of Brand
Playboy is a brand I have come to admire for remaining true to their core principles; of celebrating the female body with an unapologetic cigar-in-hand ‘Mad Men’ nod to the patriarchy. The brand has evolved beautifully over the decades; far less misogynistic since its first edition in 1953 to what could be regarded as the borderline feminist modern-day Playboy.com. Which boasts a wide array of articles ranging from political commentary to features on Black Voices and people making a difference in the lives of others. Their online merch shop has a wide range of products which include the descriptor “made responsibly” in addition to their recently launched line of CBD-based pleasure products.
Brand-orgasm aside - the Playboy core strategy has remained unchanged; beautiful women, well written and researched articles, and an incredible laundry-list of who’s who interviews from the likes of Jimmy Carter, Maya Angelou to John Lennon.
The tongue in cheek phrase, “I only read Playboy for the articles” has been around for a while and has become synonymous with the brand. The phrase has also become an identifier for the Playboy aficionado and overall community member. Someone who has a like for the lustful eye-candy located within the pages of the print magazine or on their website, with a more discerning taste for adult content, which tends to be ‘tame’ in comparison to its other adult media counterparts, like Hustler and Penthouse.
"If you don't encourage healthy sexual expression in public, you get unhealthy sexual expression in private," Hefner said in Playboy in 1974, according to CNN. "If you attempt to suppress sex in books, magazines, movies and even everyday conversation, you aren't helping to make sex more private, just more hidden. You're keeping sex in the dark. What we've tried to do is turn on the lights."
Hefner has been lauded as a pioneer of the sexual revolution but also a perpetrator for driving misogyny - but while a valid angle to explore, this article focuses less on the actions of the brand’s owner and more on the resulting identity of the brand; one which the public discovered and got to know over the years. Still with me? Great, let’s continue.
The Playboy Persona & Customer Avatar
The Playboy (which no longer has heavy gender-based masculine connotations) is usually a bit more on the well-read and well-spoken side and with a natural ability to chameleon their identity to suit situations and surroundings. The ‘Playboy’ is daring and debonair, sophisticated and savvy, vocal and vivacious.
People recognised this unfolding of brand identity over the years, they saw a mirroring of their own desired characteristics of the ‘Playboy’. The business leveraged that and crafted their audience niche in adult entertainment; a free-thinker, more respectful of women than a Penthouse / Hustler fan, likely to be regarded as a gentleman or a confident woman in various circles. This birthed the Community. A community developed from the inside out; through the careful crafting of the brand, establishing a tone of voice (outside of Hefner’s with time), identifying their audience and creating content that would be appreciated and valued by a very specific type of reader/consumer.