Using the archetype wheel to build a well rounded digital brand

The archetype wheel can be an extremely useful tool for helping guide the development of your digital brand.

To demonstrate how it works I will share how I used this wheel in my post analysis of Epworth HealthCare's digital brand development journey. But before I start, I'd like to thank and acknowledge Ness Flett for beautifully designing my version of the archetype wheel for my presentation at the inaugural international Health Care and Social Media Summit: Mayo in Oz.  My visual design skills are non-existent and I am so very appreciative Ness was able to take my scribbles and transform them into what they are today.

Let's take a good look at my version of the archetype wheel in the image below before I demonstrate how it works. 

The first thing to note, is that the wheel is made up of four quadrants and the 12 archetypes are grouped into each of these. As you can see, the quadrants are: Order, Ego, Freedom and Social. The order of the quadrants and where they sit on the wheel - in terms of what they are next to and what they are opposite - is very important. Observing the placements it will no doubt strike you as logical that the Order quadrant is opposite the Freedom quadrant and that the Ego quadrant is opposite the Social quadrant. It is logical because in life, these concepts are opposites.

Equally as important, is the order and placement of each of the archetypes. You will not be surprised to see the Explorer, Outlaw and Jester archetypes belong to the Freedom quadrant; the Lover, Caregiver and Everyman are in the Social quadrant; and so on. The reason the placements makes sense, is because we have a universal understanding of each archetype and what they represent. 

What is particularly important to note, is that the placement of each archetype within the quadrant represents how strongly the archetype represents the quadrant. For example, if we look at the Order quadrant the Ruler is in the centre - this is because the Ruler is the strongest representation of Order. Whereas the Sage represents Order moving into Ego; and the Innocent is Order moving into Social. Just as the Outlaw is the strongest representation of the Freedom quadrant - while the Explorer is Freedom moving into Ego, and the Jester is Freedom moving into Social. 

The importance of these placements will become clearer through my demonstration of how the wheel works.

Like most organisations, at Epworth HealthCare we started our digital journey with a website. As you will see in the archetype wheel below, I have coupled the website with the Sage archetype in the Order quadrant.


It is logical for websites to sit in the Order quadrant and be represented by one of the associated archetypes. Websites are very ordered digital tools. They have a set navigation, often with very clear hierarchy and a deliberately logical structure to guide you through each section.

Looking at a screen grab below of Epworth HealthCare's website you can see what I mean by the logical navigation, the hierarchy etc. The design is very structured, there is a top banner, the search bar in the expected position, a top level navigation is supported by side navigation and a bread crumb system. Overall the look and feel matches our perceptions of order and reinforces that it belongs in the associated quadrant. 

I have chosen to couple the website with the Sage archetype over the other archetypes in the Order quadrant for two reasons, the first being the Sage's placement in the quadrant: Order moving into Ego. Although a website is an ordered and structured digital tool, it is one where the brand is leading and prominent and so it has Ego too. In the screen grab the brand is very prominent in logo placement, use of colour and overall visual representation.

The second reason for this coupling is because of what the Sage represents. Looking at the key in the archetype wheel diagram you will see the Sage is described as: the expert, adviser, scholar, professional, mentor and teacher. 

Teachers deal with fact, and content on websites is very much fact-driven. The facts on a website are provided by the organisation as the expert and presented in a professional manner.

So I have coupled the website with the Sage and shown the logical associations with both the archetype and its quadrant. But how and why is this coupling useful? 

Well, let's think about what makes a good teacher? To me it is someone who makes the facts easily accessible, is engaging, a good listener and empowers me to learn through action and involvement.

A good website, therefore, will be easily accessible. It will be mobile friendly, easy to find in a search, translate into different languages and meet accessibility guidelines for visually impaired audiences. A good website will also be - like a good teacher - engaging, empowering and a good listener. It will not only provide the facts but will provide information in ways that engage the audience, such as using video and infographics and providing opportunities for involvement through interactivity. A good website will also have feedback mechanisms and back end processes to acknowledge that the organisation is listening.  

By coupling the website with the Sage archetype and thinking about what makes the ideal Sage you can audit your website and identify areas for improvement and development - an activity which we are currently undertaking at Epworth HealthCare.

Next in Epworth HealthCare's digital journey was the launch of a Twitter account and Facebook accounts. As you will see from the archetype wheel below, I have coupled Twitter with the Magician and the Facebook with the Hero. Let's explore why.

At Epworth HealthCare, we started using Twitter as a way to share with journalists those magical things our doctors perform. This is the perfect place to sing about our innovative procedures and break throughs, as well as our visionary and innovative approach to health care. This is where we celebrate amazing work like our doctors reconstructing a patient's jaw using 3D printing, and our Orthopaedic specialists operating on an Orangutan.  

Twitter is a logical coupling with the Magician archetype not only based on the kind of content we share but also because of the tone of voice which works best in Twitter. When tweeting it is important for organisations to show a bit of their personality. In this environment it isn't just about the facts, it is where the organisation can start demonstrating who they are, what they believe in etc. The charismatic voice of the Magician, therefore, is a great fit. 

Let's also not forget that the Magician is in the Ego quadrant, a space to lead with the brand, which is exactly what we do through our profile, Twitter handle @epworthnews and the way we represent ourselves visually - our logo prominent on our page and used as our profile photo displaying with each tweet we make.

Our Facebook coupling moves further into the Ego quadrant to the Hero archetype which is the strongest representation of this quadrant. This is very much a space where the brand can do some chest beating. This is where the brand is the Hero and we can really celebrate the mastery of what we do. It is also where we are the Hero to our patients and their families: where people share their experiences and thank us for the amazing work we do. The content strategy for our Maternity Facebook page is very much focussed on celebrating the hospital: our staff, food, obstetricians and the many births. Every aspects of the brand, what we do and the mastery behind it, is the Hero. 

It is important to realise that this is also where we are the fallen Hero, and where people share their disappointment. So this is also a space where we need to tap into some of the key characteristics of the Hero and have the strength and courage to own our mistakes and resolve them. 

So at this point in the journey Epworth HealthCare's digital tools are all sitting predominately in the Ego quadrant at the top end of the wheel where it is all about the organisation and the brand. A place where most organisations sit and stay. Instinctively, we knew this could not be the entire journey and so it was at this point that we (unknowingly at the time) jumped to the other side of the archetype wheel as we launched our Bublove app and Bublove Facebook page. This is where we started to embrace content marketing  -  bringing some balance to our digital interactions.

The objective of our Bublove app and Bublove Facebook page is to enhance the pregnancy experience by providing useful and engaging information. The organisation/service brand does not lead in this space, the content does. Hence, I have coupled these two digital tools in my post analysis with the Caregiver archetype in the Social quadrant - as illustrated in the diagram below.

The content strategy for our Bublove digital tools is to celebrate pregnancy and birth, and provide useful information for pregnant women and couples thinking about, or trying to get pregnant. The way in which we deliver this, is through the voice and role of the Caregiver: with compassion and generosity. Education is supportive of the audience needs and our authority in the subject matter delivered through something equal to parental guidance. This is not a place to be pushing the brand, it is about delivering useful content. It is also not a space to push the brand in the visual sense, therefore, the Bublove look and feel leads with the celebration of pregnancy and birth in its logo, colours and imagery. The Epworth logo may be present, but it takes a back seat in this space. 

Not long after the Bublove launch, Epworth engaged in a promotional activity where we invited women who had given birth at Epworth Freemasons to share their baby photos. The brainchild of our agency OMG! Creative, we used all these photos to create a piece of artwork of one of the babies and created a digital mosaic where families could search for their babies photo within the artwork. We also created a large piece of public art from the mosaic and hung it on the outside of the Epworth Freemasons building in Victoria Parade, Melbourne.

 I have coupled our Baby Mosaic with the Creator archetype in the Ego quadrant. The Creator is about creativity and imagination, it is the artist. This is exactly what Baby Mosaic is: a creative piece of work, a piece of art. The Creator archetype sits on the side of the Ego quadrant moving into the Freedom quadrant. This makes sense for Baby Mosaic as it was a promotional activity, so fits in the Ego quadrant where the brand is celebrated, but celebrated in a way that reflects the Freedom quadrant. Although Baby Mosaic was promoting our maternity services at Epworth Freemasons it did so without a logo on the large artwork we hung on the side of our building. This was a council requirement and I was thrilled about this as it allowed Baby Mosaic to be exactly what it needed to be: a celebration of the babies through the freedom of a beautiful piece of public art. Unfortunately, the organisation was not ready to replicate the absence of the logo on the digital form. As an organisation we were not yet mature enough in our marketing journey to let go of the traditional approach of leading with the brand.

It is not surprising, therefore, that at this point in the journey, Epworth HealthCare has completely filled the Ego quadrant. Typically, the marketing focus for most organisations is to lead with the brand and celebrate the brand on their digital platforms. However, if you really want to engage your audience and make deep and long lasting connections with your brand, there needs to be some balance.

I often think about a brand as a person. A brand which only fills the Ego quadrant is like a friend who incessantly talks about themselves, who has no insight into others. It isn't a surprise that most people want to limit their exposure to this kind of friend, and it is the same with brands. A brand that exists only in the Ego quadrant, only talking about itself and talking 'at' people, is hard to engage with all the time. To build a well rounded brand, you need to ensure your brand isn't so ego-centric, and that it genuinely cares and engages with people in a more social way - tapping into the archetypes in the Social quadrant on the archetype wheel.

It was at this point in the Epworth HealthCare journey that we launched Goodness Me - a health and wellbeing blog. In this post analysis, I have coupled Goodness Me with the Everyman archetype, because this is exactly what it needs to be. This is an important piece in the journey, building on the content marketing of the Bublove app and Facebook page, and bringing some balance to the ego-centricity of our brand as you can see from the archetype wheel below. 

Just like the Everyman archetype, Goodness Me is about connecting with others and doing so in a down-to-earth manner with empathy. Instinctively, it was the desire to embody this at the time, which drove every decision about the look and feel of Goodness Me and the content strategy. It is why, as you can see from the screen shot below, the blog's logo uses the typeface it does, why the imagery is what it is and why the organisational logo, although present, is proportionally very small and not prominent. Ideally, the logo would not be present at all, and I hope that one day it won't be. However, this is a journey the organisation is undertaking and as traditional marketing sits in the Ego quadrant where the brand is the lead, and this is where most organisations feel comfortable, it is a step too far (at this stage) to remove it.

By understanding that Goodness Me is embodying the role of the Everyman archetype, it helps us to brief our agency around how we want to promote it, helps us brief our writers about the stories we want to share, assists us in explaining it to our stakeholders and overall, makes it easier to deliver the right mix to our audience, ensuring it is true to itself. This is important, because by being true to itself, Goodness Me will be most relevant and engaging, therefore, at optimum effectiveness. 

Excitingly, a short film and fun music video we produced have balanced Epworth HealthCare's digital journey even further, as illustrated in the wheel diagram below.

I have coupled our short film A New Day, with the Lover archetype. Why? Well, let's think about what is important to us when we are in love and what we want from our lover. For me it is about authenticity, honesty and appreciation. I am sure you will agree that equally as important are trust and passion. Being in love is also when we are at our most vulnerable. And it is all these beautiful aspects that our short film A New Day embodies. For the writer and the director the authenticity of each scene was paramount, the honesty of what we do a critical aspect in the film's story telling.  It is not just showing the healing and good times, it is showing the vulnerability and raw emotion of all aspects: the joy of new life, the struggles with illness, the sadness of death. This is what makes A New Day such a powerful piece.

After watching our AIDET music video, it will come as no surprise that in my post analysis I have coupled our music video with the Jester archetype. This is where the brand sneaks into the most difficult brand space for most health care organisations - the Freedom quadrant  - and uses humour to express itself and get across an important message to staff. Inspired by Pindara Hospital's Moves Like Jagger video, Epworth HealthCare's AIDET video shows some of our Epworth Rehabilitation executives having some fun to Michael Jackson's Beat it. Not pointless fun though, they are tapping into their inner MJ in the name of excellent patient care and to share the message that sometimes it's the simple things that can make a big difference. Which is what AIDET is about: Acknowledging patients by name; Introducing yourself; Duration - letting patients know how long you will be there; Explaining what you are doing; Thanking them when you leave. Simple but important things to remember when caring for patients in a busy hospital.

Looking at the wheel in the diagram below, you will see the completed journey. At this point you may be asking 'But how can the one brand be all these things at once?' As I said earlier, I think of brands as a person (something I plan to write about further in my next blog post) and just like a person you take on different roles depending on who you are interacting with. At work and in my professional interactions I am often the Sage, teaching and guiding others as well as learning from them. Having a coffee with a girlfriend in  need, I am in the Caregiver and the Everyman archetype roles. At home with my husband and kids, I am also the Caregiver - although my husband may say I think and act like I am the Ruler! And when I visit and hang out with my extended family - my parents and siblings - I revert to the Jester. So just like us, brands too can take on different personas in different situations, and yet still retain the essence of who they are.

Looking analytically at the finished wheel, I think the first thing I find fascinating about the end result is that we have organically filled up the wheel mirroring the top and bottom ends. I am not surprised to see the Ego quadrant is completely full. As I have mentioned earlier, this is where traditional marketing and brand journey's start and finish for most organisations so it would almost be impossible for this not to be filled for any health care organisation. 

I am really proud though, that unconsciously during our journey we managed to bring balance with the entire Social quadrant also completely full - as it should be given these digital tools are part of what we call 'Social Media'.

What I find most intriguing, however, is that we have mirrored the archetypes in the Order and the Freedom quadrants. The Jester is directly opposite the Sage position. The Ruler and Innocent in the Order quadrants remain unfilled. As do the Outlaw and the Explorer. Perhaps I should not be too shocked by this as the Ruler is a very strong and dominating position which can easily alienate your audience if not delivered right, and the Outlaw is an easy space for a brand like Harley Davidson where they want you to tap into your inner Outlaw - but a difficult space for health care organisations. It is one they very much avoid given it is difficult to rationalise the universal understanding of Outlaw alongside the duty of care to patients. 

As well as using my post analysis to help refine our digital tools, I am now using it to contemplate our next steps in the journey of Epworth HealthCare's digital brand and explore how we can represent these archetypes. I don't think it is essential that the entire wheel be completed, but being conscious now that those spaces are unfilled has prompted some creative and strategic thinking, and brought to the forefront some new ideas and possibilities.

So if this all resinates with you (and you are not exhausted by this extremely long blog post) take the archetype wheel and use it to audit your organisation's digital brand journey - and then use it as a planning tool to help guide where you want to go next. Don't forget to continually ask yourself: 'Which persona bests suits my brand in this environment and situation?' 

One of the most beautiful things about using the wheel is it acknowledges there are steps in the journey and it helps you work though some logical decisions - making the development of the digital brand far less overwhelming than it might initially seem.