What Is Your Brand Archetype?

When it comes to brand positioning, archetypes might offer a very useful guidance system. The concept stems from the 20th century, when psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung first mentioned the recurrence of certain themes most people relate to, irrespective of culture or language.

But what exactly is an archetype?
Has it ever occurred to you that you could easily identify with a movie or a particular brand? That happens because of archetypes, which we may find anywhere from mythology, to religion, books, or music. Think about the glam and luxury inspired by the jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. or the idea of exclusiveness and status growth associated with Daimler (Mercedes-Benz). Such mental connections do not come in a haphazard manner. Influential brands position themselves after years of psychological research. Everything in media and advertising has a clever strategy behind. And the most important tool when creating such strategies is empathy. The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences. That “me too” sensation that makes us relate to certain films, songs, books or brands.

The relationship between brands and archetypes
Dr. Carol Pearson, a leadership consultant, author and speaker, has used the Jungian archetypes to develop a branding theory that is crucial in defining the target audience of a product or service. If you can find out which of the archetypes are relevant for your business, you have already made a huge step to a better communication with your customers. Do not forget that successful brands have a strong sense of identity which is mainly based on mirroring the hopes and expectations of prospective clients.

Becoming a loyal customer is a subconscious consequence of identifying yourself with a brand’s archetype. Concepts embodied by brands are personifications on a human level. Based on extensive professional research, experts manage to create brand personalities we will eventually start loving because the values they deliver are similar to our own beliefs. When a brand is dominant in a particular archetype, it will awaken in us a feeling of familiarity. We will resonate with a product or service when we find it easy to relate to the message conveyed by a particular brand.

Which are the most important archetypes in branding?
As I have already mentioned before, examining a brand through the lens of archetypes is essential for positioning our target audience. Archetypes help us design the personality of a brand. Here are some of the most important archetypes in a branding context (according to the classification of Dr. Carol Pearson):

  1. The Caregiver archetype is based on feelings of compassion, generosity and altruism. The aim of such brands is to help people take care of themselves, through health care, education or aid programs. A relevant example would be Johnson & Johnson.
  2. The Regular Person appreciates quality and dependability when choosing their favourite brands. They prefer familiarity and are not very open to novel ideas. They are characterized by a down-to-earth ethos and expect little from life. Typical brands? Gap, Habitat for Humanity.
  3. The Innocent wants to be free and happy and prefers a sincere, gimmick-free advertising. Such people are naturally drawn to optimistic brands that inspire purity, simplicity and trust. Innocent-focused brands typically rely on a natural and uncomplicated imagery. For instance, Dove is an epitome of the innocent brand.
  4. The Explorer craves adventure and fears conformity. This type of customer will always embrace the journey rather than the destination. Compatible brands include The North Face or Starbucks.
  5. The Hero is brave and determined. For hero customers, quality and efficiency are the most important features of a product. They like to think their customer choices will position them ahead of everyone else. Some relevant brand examples are Nike and the U.S. Army.
  6. Magician customers need products and services that help them grow wiser. Advertising in this case should be as inspiring as possible. Magician brands (like Disney, TED or AXE) promise knowledge and transformative experiences.
  7. Ruler customers are driven by their desire for power and control. They are naturally dominant and will value ads that reinforce their feelings. Some good examples are Rolex or Rolls Royce.
  8. Jester brands are for those who like to enjoy life and live in the moment. Compatible customers fear boredom and love anything unusual. Examples include Taco Bell and Skittles.
  9. The Sage seeks the truth and is constantly looking for new sources of information. These customers love ads that challenge them to think in a new way. Typical companies are National Geographic or The Wall Street Journal.
  10. A lover customer will always value the aesthetic side of goods and services. They are attracted to premium brands that will make them look better than others. Think Kim Kardashian or Victoria’s Secret.
  11. The Rebel is free-spirited and brave. Customers from this category appreciate the unconventional and will choose brands that promise revolution, like Harley Davidson.
  12. The Creator is expressive and innovative. Such customers avoid advertising in general, but might enjoy original, boundary-pushing marketing. Apple and Lego are good examples of creator brands.

Bottom line: each company should uncover the true identity of its brand, the character a particular brand is meant to live out. It is an essential step that will help you define and connect with your target audience, regardless of whether you are running a small business or a big company.