Using archetypes to write compelling sales copy
Archetypes are recurring configurations that appear in myth, religion, folklore, fantasy, and dreams, as well as in art and literature. In addition to operating essentially at the subconscious level, archetypes recur universally in human experience: psychologist Carl Jung (whom you should study A LOT!) saw them as manifestations of what he called the “collective unconscious.” Archetypal criticism is one of several methods of reading a text. For example, one may trace the archetypes of death and rebirth, the search for the parent, the Promethean rebel, or the scapegoat in poems and short fiction.
Examples of archetypal literary figures, can be found at Understanding Literary Archetypes. This site also offers another explanation of these figures:
First of all, an archetype is a pattern from which copies can be made. That is, it is a universal theme that manifests itself differently on an individual basis. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that these archetypes were the result of a collective unconscious. This collective unconscious was not directly knowable and is a product of the shared experiences of our ancestors. Jung believed it was:
Primordial: That is, we, as individuals, have these archetypal images ingrained in our understanding even before we are born.
Universal: These archetypes can be found all over the world and throughout history. The manifestation of the idea may be different, but the idea itself is the same.
Archetypes fall into two major categories: characters, situations/symbols.
Some common literary character archetypes include:
The hero, the tragic hero, the villain, the scapegoat, the outcast/wanderer, the Christ-figure, the trickster, the genius, the star-crossed lovers, the mother/goddess, and the fool/clown.
Some common literary situational/symbolic archetypes include:
Good, evil, the task, the quest, the initiation, or the loss of innocence.
Color = positive (negative)
Black = power (death, mourning)
Blue = nobility, tranquility (depression)
Brown = Earth, nature (confusion)
Gray = neutral (passionless)
Green = fertility, renewal, wealth (greed, envy)
Orange = adventure, change (forced change, disruptiveness)
Purple = royalty, positive personal growth (injury)
Red = sex, love (sacrifice, taboo, humiliation, danger)
White = purity, wholesomeness, rebirth (emptiness)
Yellow = enlightenment (cowardice, illness)
Water = purity, cleansing, baptism
Fire = purging, tribulation
Seasons = spring is birth, winter is death
Heavenly bodies = moon is change, sun is power
Circles = completeness, wholeness, unity
Plants = Oak is strength, rose is beauty
Animals = serpent is evil, lamb is innocent, lion is strong
Wilderness = place of testing, place of danger
Numbers = 3 is a divine trinity, 7 is perfect or luck (hence why we end all prices in 7)
The Quest = a search for someone or something that will restore fertility
The Task = refers to a superhuman feat that must be accomplished
The Journey = sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary to restore harmony
The Initiation = a situation where an individual comes to maturity
The Ritual = refers to an organized ceremony for entrance into a community
The Fall = describes a decent in action from a higher to a lower state of being
Death and Rebirth = a pattern that grows out of the parallel between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life
Nature vs. Mechanistic World = a situation that positions nature against forces of technology
Father-Son Conflict (or Mother-Daughter) = tension resulting from separation during childhood or from an external source
Hunting Group of Companions = willing to face any number of perils in order to be with each other
Loyal Retainers = function as noble sidekicks to the hero; duty is protection
Friendly Beast = These animals assist the hero
The Devil Figure = represents evil incarnate. May offer worldly goods, fame or knowledge but for a price
The Evil Figure with the Ultimately Good Heart = a redeemable devil figure or devil figure’s servant who is saved
The Scapegoat = a victim whose death or demise, often in public ceremony, expiates some taint or sin that has been visited upon the community
Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity = some characters intuitively exhibit more wisdom and understanding that supposedly more learned characters
The Outcast = banished from the community for a crime (real or imagined); destined to become a wanderer
The Earth Mother = character is symbolic of fruition, abundance and fertility
The Temptress = characterized by sensuous beauty; may bring about a hero’s downfall
The Platonic Ideal = source of inspiration (either physical or spiritual) for the hero’s attraction
The Unfaithful Wife = married to a man she sees as dull or distant, who is attracted to a more virile or interesting man
The Damsel in Distress = This vulnerable woman must be rescued by the hero; may be used by an evil figure as a trap
The Star-Crossed Lovers = two characters engaged in a love affair which is fated to end in tragedy due to the disapproval of society, friends, family or the gods.
The Creature of Nightmare = monster, physical or abstract, who is summoned from the deepest, darkest parts of the human psyche to threaten life
By weaving these int your sales copy you’ll tap into the deepest part of your prospects brain. A great book to read on this is Man and his symbols by Carl Jung, it’s the best book I’ve read on this topic.