Whether they’re for our client brands or subscribers, the character voices in our stories are always created using a few carefully chosen storytelling tools. One of these tools includes the teachings of Carl Jung. The ‘archetypes’—which we often talk about whenever we get into the details of our creative process—are prototypes or models of the human mind. According to Jung, they’re primitive patterns derived from our collective consciousness of the human experience. Carl Jung’s work has developed further now, giving rise to the twelve storytelling archetypes that we use in our work. We use these Jungian archetypes in our storytelling as a tool to quickly model and project reasonably complex brand personas or story characters.
Among these archetypes is the Ruler. This archetype is quite common among businesses and we see Ruler personas echoed in the many phrases that concidently speak of being ‘the largest’, ‘the only’, ‘the most awarded’ etc. This desire to be number one is at the heart of the Ruler archetype. In our circle of clients, we've recognised few Ruler brands; they are usually the ones always interested in taking the lead to bring order into this world. They place value in authority, taking responsibility, and influence.
When this archetype is at its best, it takes ownership to bring order and fairness to its realm—whether this is a business, the family or a community. Personas with a dominant Ruler archetype don’t shy away from responsibilities that may overwhelm others. The Ruler archetype is confident, and commanding authority comes naturally to it. When working with businesses that embody the Ruler archetype in their persona, we create stories that bring out these strengths. We design these stories to demonstrate how a Ruler-dominant brand is responsible, widely respected, a patron for certain circles, and a true authority in what it does.
In commercial storytelling we don’t usually create stories about the weaknesses of archetypes; but, when we’re creating fictional stories for our story subscription, shadow rulers become interesting characters to construct. In fact, the shadow side of the ruler archetype became the sole premise for one Public Works monthly story, capturing the beginnings of a person’s intoxication with power.
We see shadow rulers everywhere in real life too; as puppet politicians facilitating by-proxy rule of unpopular forces, tyrant presidents intolerant of criticism, monarchs holding onto destructive power structures to benefit their families—leaders who forget that the point of their power is to serve the people who bestow it. This happens when the ruler’s relationship to power becomes corrupt; it blinds them from seeing how power can only really be sustained when a ruler surrenders to it.
Both in its good side and the shadow, the Ruler archetype is always connected to power and how the person chooses to use it; whether they want to wield power to influence greater good or for selfish interests.
When we work with businesses that want to position themselves as authorities, we help shape their communications based on how they use their power; telling stories of how the brand influences positive outcomes in their domain by taking initiative and being responsible. The stories we create for them consider important differentiators— like whether the business is an active leader that takes charge, or a supporting patron linking networks and influencing others’ success. Such subtleties go a long way in establishing an honest brand identity. As storytellers, we use the ruler archetype in our creative expressions to build stories about good leaders and empowering patrons as much as through tyrants and puppets, to draw out insights that help our subscribers form new views of people in relation to power.
Read this story that we created for one of our client brands that embody the light side of the ruler archetype.
This story about a shadow ruler is a fictional piece created for our monthly story subscription readers.