What’s your brand archetype? Part one

When you look at successful brands, such as Disney, Apple and Harley Davidson, you get a strong sense of their identity. Apple is creative, Disney is a visionary and Harley Davidson is a bit of a rebel. Their identity is generally mirrored with that of their customers. These personalities aren’t unique to these brands. In fact, they pop up all the time in all great storytelling, from books to movies – James Bond is ‘the hero’, while Indiana Jones is ‘the explorer’.

Archetypes defined

These characters/personalities/personas are what Swiss psychologist Carl Jung calls “archetype”. His theory is based on the human psyche, whereby universal, mythic characters (or archetypes) reside within the collective unconscious of humans around the globe. While there are many archetypes, Jung has defined 12 primary types.

Jungian archetypes have been adopted, dissected and cross-examined by all kinds of groups (not just psychologists) including spiritualists, scientists and branding and marketing experts.

Creative agencies and branding agencies can help you identify what personality types your target market is likely to have during a strategy workshop. From these types, they have the ability to create your corporate identity and strategy for your business that best appeals to the determined personality types.

The primary branding archetypes – the first six

The Innocent

In popular culture, you’ll see the innocent in characters like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz and Forrest Gump. At their core, innocent’s biggest goal in life is to be happy and free, while their greatest fear is to be punished for doing something bad, whether making a mistake at work or doing wrong by someone they value. At their worst, they can come across as irritating, boring and childish. On the plus side, their greatest talent is their ability to maintain a good level of optimism.

Innocent customers are naturally drawn to positive brands; ones who they feel are doing “good for the world”. When it comes to advertising, they want a simple solution to an identifiable problem which is straightforward. Walt Disney and Coco Cola are also known to be Innocent archetype brands.

The Caregiver

In popular culture, you’ll see the caregiver in characters like Maria from the Sound of Music. At their core, they are nurturers, with a strong desire to protect and care for others. They despise selfishness and ingratitude, and are fearful of adopting these qualities. While they are known for being compassionate and generous, they’re often exploited due to their need to put others before themselves.

One must tread carefully when marketing to caregivers. They want to be recognised for their effort, but if sense aggressive or patronising messaging, they will switch off. Emotion-based solutions to their problems are likely to strike a chord. Brands who do this well are Campbells and Toms.

The regular guy or girl

Regular guys or girls strive to belong. They desire connection with people and retreat when they feel as though they are being left out. On the other side of the coin, they don’t enjoy being the centre of attention. They are known as being down to earth, but they often lose sight of themselves in an effort to blend in. They are realistic and possess a good level of empathy.

Regular guy or girl brands need to promise belonging and a sense of mateship. These brands need to appear honest and dependable. The worst thing a regular guy/girl brand to do is give off an elitist attitude. Brands who do this well are Wrangler, XXXX Beer and Ikea.

 The explorer

This archetype does not want you to fence them in. They believe in the freedom to discover their core identity is through exploring the world. They seek authenticity, both in themselves and in those they meet. They believe this will lead to a more fulfilling life. Every day is an adventure for the explorer and the enjoy experiencing new things to escape from boredom and the hum drum of everyday nine to five life.

Explorer brands offer the means to help explorers experience the unknown. The worst thing an explorer brand could do is appear corporate and rigid. Brands who do this well are Kathmandu, Jeep and The North Face.

The rebel

The most identifiable rebel archetype in popular culture would be James Dean. They believe rules are made to be broken. At their core, they desire revenge or revolution. Their main strategy is to disrupt, destroy or shock. At their best, they are known for being outrageous and free, while at their worst they have a tendency to cross over to the dark side.

Rebel brands, such as Harley Davidson, position themselves as alternatives to the mainstream and are likely to have a cult following. Rebel brands need to be careful they don’t become “too popular”.

The Sage

The sage believes in the old time saying the truth will set you free. They are deep thinkers and use their intelligence to analyse and influence the world. In popular culture, you’d see the sage in characters like Yoda and even singer David Bowie. Their biggest fear is being duped or misled, and will actively seek the truth in brands with such actions.

Sage brands promote wisdom and learning. They use high-level vocabulary and intellectual in-jokes to entice customers. There’s no need for dumb-down messaging with sage archetypes as they are quite capable of understanding complex concepts. Brands who do this well are National Geographic.

You’ve reached the end of part one in our series on brand archetypes. Stay tuned for part two. If you’re unsure of your brands archetype, iFactory can help you develop your identity in one of our collaborative workshops. Get in contact with us today to book an appointment.

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