There are so many things that go into strong, strategic branding to help our clients grow their business and achieve their goals.
One thing that many people might not be thinking about is the actual psychology aspect that can help you develop your clients’ brands. Truth be told, we’ve never thought about psychology when it comes to branding or design, in general.
So today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Kaye Putnam, who has created her very own psychology driven angle, particularly using brand archetypes, to make sure that the designs she’s creating speaks to the core of who her clients are.
Kaye is going to be spilling the beans on what all of this means and how you can start implementing this into your own work.
Kaye started her first business when she was just 16 years old. Photography was her first introduction into entrepreneurship and business, and it made her more interested in how branding and marketing are.
She took a traditional path working at a digital marketing agency, and shortly after her son was born 6 years ago she realized she wanted to go back to doing her own thing and working for herself.
From her experience in the other businesses she worked for Kaye realized that there was something influencing whether or not a business was successful. It wasn’t just their marketing, promotions, or advertising. There was something at the core of who they were that was influencing their success.
She realized all of this played right into the actual business’ brand, so she dove head first into psychology, decision making and how those two things are brought to life through design and messaging for the brand.
Putting psychology driven branding into action for herself
At first, Kaye admits, although she knew these things, she was struggling to put them into work for her own business. Even though she knew she should be connecting more with her audience on an emotional and authentic level, she just couldn’t figure out how to do that for herself.
Then one day she stumbled upon a website that listed the 12 archetypes with descriptions of these different patterns and categories that show up over and over again.
She ultimately learned a lot about her brand, what she was doing wrong, and how she could go forward.
Designing based on trends
Kaye says she always tells her clients that she wants to build their brand on truth not trends. What she means by that is that it’s so easy to look for inspiration online and begin to pull things out from other brands who have a completely different message and identity than what you have.
You can totally like a design and think an incredible designer made it, but it could be completely wrong and misguided for your own story and your own brand.
Designing based on truth and psychology
Kaye shared that when she starts working with clients, she always begins by figuring out what they stand for first and foremost. She says this can feel like trying to read the label of the bottle from the inside, which is why it helps to have somebody who you’re working with that’s reflecting back some of the key messages that you’re saying.
So Kaye always starts with client interviews and defining the right archetype for the client so that she can then express the client’s specific story through strategic design choices rather than the coolest new font that we found.
What are archetypes?
Kaye tells us that archetypes are categories or patterns that show up throughout human history. As much as technology and business changes, human psychology hasn’t changed that much. We all have very universal human vales, and each of the 12 archetypes connects to one of those values.
Archetypes are very timeless because they’re connected to those deep, universal human values that we all hold.
The process of designing based on an archetype
Kaye says she always starts with an interview with the client, and she’s always listening for clues in their language that tells her what archetype the client is. She also has the client take the quiz to so both her and the client can figure out what archetype they are.
Getting on a call with your client to discuss your initial brand questions and archetype related questions can be really beneficial. Kaye says she likes to do both because each reaches different parts of your brand and you can get different types of answers.
Then Kaye asks her clients to make a Pinterest moodboard. She doesn’t do this until she’s had the conversation about brand archetypes with her clients, what the big idea of their brand is, so she does that first. Then she can send a client to Pinterest and help encourage them to pin things they like that relate to their archetype.
After that research, Kaye starts thinking about how to actually express that through design. A great example is through color psychology. If you’re looking at a brand that signifies truth, virtue, and naturalness, you’d probably use whites or lots of white space to make those associations as a designer.
Kaye’s opinion on designing solely for the target audience
She says this is a major sticking point for her because she believes that designers should be creating work based on the brand not the target audience. In fact, Kaye says she tries to minimize the focus on the outside as much as possible, especially in the beginning.
Kaye says the more you try to be who you think you should be, the more you’re diluting your natural strengths. So the more we’re trying to fit ourselves into being what we think this ideal client wants, the less authentic it really is.
The biggest mistake Kaye sees people make with design
She says the clients she’s had the most trouble with are the ones where they haven’t taken the time to create that focus in the beginning. For example, when someone says they want to create a brand for all of the archetypes and appeal to everyone, then that’s typically a red flag.
Kaye says you really have to stick to your guns and make sure that your clients are following your process that you know is successful.
Educating potential clients on archetypes
Kaye says that she starts teaching and sharing as much as she can about archetypes and about positioning your brand and brand personality as she can. She’s also curated Pinterest boards for each of the archetypes, and she likes to use those as reference points to educate people.
Ideally, before a client reaches out to her with an inquiry they’ve been through a lot of her education and indoctrination process. She prefers people to follow her and learn what she’s teaching for a while before actually working together so clients fully understand and appreciate this part of her process.
Kaye Putnam is the psychology-driven brand strategist for entrepreneurs. By working with hundreds of brands, she developed the Clarity Code™ framework for crafting an industry-leading brand. It gives you the clarity to scale your impact and income. When she’s not transforming brands, you might find her trekking the Himalayas, chilling with elephants in Thailand, or snuggled on the couch watching Game of Thrones (for the 8th time.)