The psychologist Carl Jung posited that all humans share in the unconscious portion of our minds what he termed “archetypes”: images of mythological importance that we instantly recognize in stories and the events of day to day life. According to Jung’s theories, our mind responds to situations influenced by those same archetypes. Thus, in some leaders we see the “King” or “Hero” archetypes. Characters on television and in the movies are often very intentionally developed to mirror particular archetypes like the “Magician” or the “Warrior”.
This too brief and painfully inadequate introduction to Jung’s archetypes suggests that the persona of our business will be better articulated, more imaginative and forceful if we pay attention to the archetype it mirrors. The stories we read in novels, plays, movies and even our personal histories are all told in a narrative fashion, influenced by shared archetypes. Jung and his followers called these stories the “hero’s journey,” and it explains why we are captivated by a good story.
So what’s your story?
Look at some cutting edge companies with which you are familiar – Virgin Atlantic, Apple Computers, Microsoft, Google…can you see in their corporate images a familiar archetype that fills out the corporate personality and makes it attractive to consumers? What story is inherent in the image of these companies?
More importantly, what story is inherent in the image of your own travel practice? What image do you outwardly project? Are you conscious of your business persona? If not, you may be projecting a less than clear image to your clients.
Take a moment to look at your own travel persona. Does it have an archetypal personality? What is your business archetype? Do your clients see in you the Wise Old Woman? Hero? Is the Explorer archetype resident in your company logo? Magician? Outlaw? To the extent that you can reflect an archetype in your company’s image – in its name, its logo, its color scheme, its tagline…the more powerful will be its ability to capture the imagination of potential clients. Archetypes help us to identify with companies.
Without a little bit of archetypal flair, we sink into the mass of faceless anonymity, just one of the crowd of travel agents looking to book an airline ticket. Let’s find some flair in what we do.
We don’t have to look far – the travel industry is especially keyed into the concept of archetypes. The very nature of our profession is romantic. Every traveler wants to be an explorer, a pilgrim or a wanderer. Every journey has both an inward and an outward meaning and reverberation. Take a look at our Travelhoppers Facebook page to see what I mean. Look at the number of “Likes” and “Shares” each of those pictorial quotes is generating. I’m firmly convinced it is because we are hitting some profoundly emotional chords with readers. Understanding just a little of the psychology of why people travel, the archetypes in our lives, will help you to better reach the emotional buttons attached to the desire to travel.
We all have a story to tell. To the extent we can do so in a way others find romantic, challenging, inspiring or engaging, the better our ability to grab their imaginations and provide the incentive to travel with us. Perhaps a bit of investigation into the psychology of our business persona is in order. We need to develop the ability to tell stories in such a way as to inspire our clients to travel, to engage the emotion side of their wanderlust.
Examine all of the points of contact that you present to the public and ensure that the archetypal message you present is consistent and focused. If you do, you will have a better story to tell and others will turn out to listen.