Friday, September 26, 2014

Universal Myths and Branding

If brands tell stories, it might be useful that those stories are informed by the universal myths that recur over time and across geography and culture.  These myths resonate with people at a very deep level. They are about coming to grips with our mortality, making sense of our lives and reconciling the individual experience with the infinite. So, what are the myths that emerge in one form or another again and again?

  • Creation Myths: Why are we here? Where did we come from? How did it all begin? What was the first cause? What is our place in the universe?
  • The Earliest Times: What are our roots? What is our lineage? Who were our ancestors? What were their customs? What were their lives like back then? What trials and tribulations did they have to endure? What can this teach us about our lives today?
  • Flood Myths: Was there once a great earth-wide tragedy? What was its nature? What caused it? Why did it occur? Could it happen again? If so, what could we do to minimize its probability of recurring? How fragile is our existence?
  • Great Loves Stories: What is perfect love? What is divine love? What ecstasies and traumas are associated with true love? Can two people that love each other ever really be permanently separated? Can love conquer all?
  • Morality Tales: Are there moral tests? Would I pass them? What can an immoral person expect? What are the consequences of immorality? What are the consequences of specific immoral acts? How does an immoral person’s life end?
  • Hero Myths: How does the hero save someone or something from disaster or destruction? What bravery and courage does the hero exhibit? What is the hero’s reward? In what ways am I a hero? Can we all become heroes, at least in some small ways?
  • Journeys to the Underworld: What possesses someone to journey to the underworld? Is it possible for someone to journey to the underworld and then come back to tell about it? What sort of individual is able to sacrifice everything to save another? Can love overcome fear? Can our dark side be conquered? Can we conquer death? Can we transcend death?
  • The End Times: What are the signs of the end times? Are we in the end times? What will happen in the end times? Can we ever transcend the chaos and evil in this world? Will there ever be heaven on earth? Are the end times something to be welcomed or feared? What will happen to me in the end times? Ultimately, what will become of me?

As a marketer, you can attempt to associate your brand with almost anything. While none of these myths may have direct applicability to your brand or its story as currently conceived, perhaps there is a question or two related to one of these universal myths that is relevant to your brand and its messaging. If you are able to weave these myths or their questions into your brand’s story, you will be tapping into something with deep emotional roots and the power to persuade.

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