Use the power of Archetypes to build a substantial Brand Identity

Archetypes are a concept originally conceived by the renowned Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung. According to him, Archetypes constitute the structure of Collective Unconscious — they are innate psychic dispositions to experience and represent basic human behaviour and reactions to situations.

In Marketing, Brand Archetypes is used to create contrast within a category — which aids the decision-making process of consumers when faced with choices. They tap into the subconscious by appealing to universal human needs e.g. the need for belonging, power, change etc.
Submitting to a Brand Archetype helps clarify your brand’s mission and message. It can be used to bring a new brand to life, or refocus or revitalise an existing one.
Fundamentally there are 12 Archetypes to associate with, As you read through these 12 Brand archetypes, decide which applies to you or your organization and let us know why in the comments section.

Brand Archetype #1: The SageBELIEVES IN MANKIND’S CAPACITY TO GROW

Motto: The truth will set you free.
Goal: To use intelligence and analysis to understand the world
Biggest fear: Being duped, misled — or ignorance.
Strategy: Seeking out information and knowledge; self-reflection and understanding thought processes, proven results.
Weakness: Can study details forever and never act
Talent: Wisdom, intelligence
Also known as: Expert, scholar, detective, adviser, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, planner, professional, mentor, teacher, contemplative, guru
Sage archetypes in the wild:

  • Provide expertise or information to customers
  • Encourage customers to think
  • Based on new scientific findings or esoteric knowledge
  • Supported by research-based facts
  • Differentiate from others whose quality or performance is suspect
  • Research, measure, study, revise, teach and test are few things they focus on

Archetype examples: BBC, CNN, Gallup, PBS

Brand Archetype #2: The InnocentSEEKING FULFILLMENT IN THE HERE AND NOW

Motto: We are young and free.
Goal: To be happy
Greatest fear: To be punished for doing something bad or wrong
Strategy: To do things right
Weakness: Boring for all their naive innocence
Talent: Faith and optimism
Also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer

Innocent archetypes in the wild:

  • Offer a simple solution to a problem
  • Associate with goodness, morality, simplicity, nostalgia or childhood
  • Low or moderate pricing
  • Companies with straightforward values
  • Differentiate from brands with poor reputations

Archetype examples: Dove soap, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream

Brand Archetype #3: The ExplorerEMPHASIZES AUTONOMY OVER BELONGING

Motto: Don’t fence me in.
Goal: To experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life
Biggest fear: Getting trapped, conformity, and inner emptiness
Strategy: Journey, seeking out and experiencing new things, escape from boredom
Weakness: Aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Talent: Autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
Also known as: seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, Pilgrim
Explorer archetypes in the wild:

  • Helps people feel free, nonconformist or pioneering
  • Rugged and sturdy or for use in the great outdoors or in dangerous settings
  • Can be purchased from a catalogue or on the Internet
  • Help people express their individuality
  • Can be purchased for consumption on the go
  • Differentiate from a successful regular guy/gal brand or conformist brand
  • Culture that creates new and exciting products or experiences
  • Independent, self — directed and inherently non-conformist

Archetype examples: Indiana Jones, Jeep, Marlboro

Brand Archetype #4: The RulerTHE BEST OR NOTHING; FOLLOW ME

Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Goal: create a prosperous, successful family or community
Strategy: exercise power
Greatest fear: chaos, being overthrown
Weakness: being authoritarian, unable to delegate, out of touch with reality
Talent: responsibility, leadership
Also known as: boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator
Ruler archetypes in the wild:

  • High-status product or service used by powerful people to enhance their power
  • Make people more organised
  • Offer a lifetime guarantee
  • Empower people to maintain or enhances their grip on power
  • Has a regulatory or protective function
  • Moderate to high pricing
  • Differentiate from populist brands or clear leaders in the field
  • Market leaders offering a sense of security and stability in a chaotic world
  • Create more stability and security in a chaotic world

Archetype examples: IBM, Microsoft

Brand Archetype #5: The CreatorORDER FROM CHAOS

Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done.
Goal: To realise a vision
Greatest fear: Mediocre vision or execution
Strategy: Develop artistic control and skill
Task: To create culture, express own vision
Weakness: Perfectionism, bad solutions
Talent: Creativity and imagination
Also known as: artist, inventor, innovator, muse, musician, writer or dreamer
Creator archetypes in the wild:

  • Promote self-expression, give customers choices and options, help foster innovation or is artistic in design
  • Creative fields like marketing, public relations, the arts, or technological innovation
  • Differentiate from “do-it-all” brands that leave little room for the imagination
  • “do-it-yourself and save money” approach
  • Customer has the time to be creative
  • Organisation with a creative culture

Archetype examples: Lego, Sony, Crayola

Brand Archetype #6: The CaregiverPROTECT PEOPLE FROM HARM

Motto: Love your neighbour as yourself.
Goal: To help others
Greatest fear: Selfishness and ingratitude
Strategy: Doing things for others
Weakness: Martyrdom, being exploited
Talent: Compassion, generosity
Also known as: Saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter
Caregiver archetypes in the wild:

  • Give customers a competitive advantage
  • Support families (products from fast-food to minivans) or is associated with nurturing (e.g. cookies, teaching materials)
  • Serve the public sector, e.g. health care, education, aid programs and other caregiving fields
  • Help people stay connected with and care about others
  • Help people care for themselves
  • Likely a non-profit or charitable cause

Archetype examples: Mother Teresa, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

Brand Archetype #7: The MagicianDREAM LARGE, THEN MAKE THE DREAM REAL

Motto: I make things happen.
Goal: To make dreams come true
Greatest fear: Unintended negative consequences
Strategy: Develop a vision and live by it
Weakness: Becoming manipulative
Talent: Finding win-win solutions, making the complex appear simple
Also known as: visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man
Magician archetypes in the wild:

  • Promise to transform customers
  • Product or service is transformative
  • May have a new-age quality
  • Consciousness-expanding
  • User-friendly or contemporary
  • Spiritual connotations
  • Medium to high pricing

Archetype examples: Disney, Dreamscape Multimedia, Oil of Olay

Brand Archetype #8: The HeroTRIUMPHING OVER ADVERSITY AND EVIL

Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Goal: Expert mastery in a way that improves the world
Greatest fear: Weakness, vulnerability, being a “chicken”
Strategy: To be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: Arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Talent: Competence and courage
Also known as: warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, saviour, soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player
Hero archetypes in the wild:

  • Inventions or innovations that will have a major impact on the world
  • Help people be all they can be
  • Solve a major social problem or encourage others to do so
  • Have clear opponent you want to beat
  • Underdog or challenger brands
  • Products and services that are strong and help people do tough jobs exceptionally well
  • Differentiate from competitors with problems following through or keeping their promises (“brand enemy” positioning)
  • Customers see themselves as good, moral citizens

Archetype examples: Nike, Superman

Brand Archetype #9: The OutlawTHE VISIONARY, THE MISFIT

Motto: Rules are made to be broken.
Goal: To overturn what isn’t working
Greatest fear: To be powerless or ineffectual
Strategy: Disrupt, destroy, or shock
Weakness: Crossing over to the dark side, crime
Talent: Outrageousness, radical freedom
Also known as: rebel, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast
Outlaw archetypes in the wild:

  • Appeal to customers or employees who feel disenfranchised from society
  • Help retain values that are threatened by emerging ones
  • Pave the way for revolutionary new attitudes
  • Low to moderate pricing
  • Break with industry conventions

Archetype examples: Harley-Davidson, Apple

Brand Archetype #10: The LoverYOU ARE THE ONLY ONE

Motto: You’re the only one.
Goal: Being in a relationship with the people, work and surroundings they love
Greatest fear: Being alone, a wallflower, unwanted, unloved
Strategy: To become more and more physically and emotionally attractive
Weakness: Outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing own identity
Talent: Passion, gratitude, appreciation, and commitment
Also known as: partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder
Lover archetypes in the wild:

  • Help people belong, find friends or partners
  • Help people have a good time
  • Low to moderate pricing
  • Freewheeling, fun-loving organisational structure
  • Differentiate from self-important, overconfident brands

Archetype examples: Victoria’s Secret, Lady Godiva

Brand Archetype #11: The JesterLIVES IN THE MOMENT WITH FULL ENJOYMENT

Motto: You only live once.
Goal: To have a great time and lighten up the world
Greatest fear: Being bored or boring others
Strategy: Play, make jokes, be funny
Weakness: Frivolity, wasting time
Talent: Joy
Also known as: fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian
Jester archetypes in the wild:

  • Give people a sense of belonging
  • Help people have a good time
  • Low to moderate pricing
  • Fun-loving companies
  • Differentiate from self-important, overconfident established brands
  • At the best, they are joyful and original. At the worst, they are frivolous

Archetype examples: Motley Fool, Muppets

Brand Archetype #12: The Regular Guy/GirlTHE VIRTUES OF BEING ORDINARY

Motto: All men and women are created equal.
Goal: To belong
Greatest fear: To be left out or to stand out from the crowd
Strategy: Develop ordinary solid virtues, be down to earth, the common touch
Weakness: Losing one’s own self in an effort to blend in or for the sake of superficial relationships
Talent: Realism, empathy, lack of pretence
Also known as: good old boy, everyman, the person next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, the good neighbour, the silent majority
Regular Guy or Girl archetypes in the wild:

  • Giving people a sense of belonging
  • Offers everyday functionality
  • Low to moderate pricing
  • Solid companies with a down-home organisational culture
  • Differentiate from elitist or higher-priced brands

Archetype examples: Home Depot, Wendy’s

To summarize our thoughts, Identify a principle archetype to build your brand around and use it for strategies and direction.
Brand Archetypes can serve as invaluable blueprints for attributes contributing to your Brand identity and Foundation.
Use it to motivate your creative team, to establish your target audience, to choose the right content and ultimately create worthwhile, inspirational and memorable stories to support your brand.

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