The Power Of Brand Archetypes And Why You Need To Know Yours

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Brand Archetypes

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Ever wondered how some brands manage to silently sneak into your brain, whisper sweet nothings and before you know if you’re whipping out your purse and buying their latest offering??

You do??

Then I’ll tell you a secret – they could be using the POWER of brand archetypes!

Let me explain… 

What Are Brand Archetypes?

So, let’s dive into this…… a strong brand (whether that’s a business, organization, individual) will make you FEEL something.  And almost all brands that you feel a deep connection to, tap into basic human desires that are aligned and embodied by a particular archetype.

Archetypes are essentially the personification of human characteristics and they enable businesses to cleverly appeal to a given desire with their marketing.

History of Archetypes

Now, I don’t want to take up too much of your time BUT it’s interesting to note that archetypes aren’t some new fandangled fad. In fact, they’ve been around as long as humans have been telling stories.  They influence the characters we all love in art, literature, and films.

The Greek philosopher Plato called them “elemental forms” and Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung (who coined the term archetypes)  viewed them as coming from our “collective unconscious” and were “typical patterns of behavior”. 

In their 2001 book “The Hero and the Outlaw”  Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson linked archetypes and the universal human desires they embodied to the meaning and connection brands want to create with their customers.

They analyzed hundreds of brands during their research and discovered 12 main brand archetypes that kept cropping up again and again in successful marketing campaigns. 

And here they are along with their strongest associated human desire.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

  1. Creator – to create something of enduring value

  2. Everyman – to connect with others

  3. Hero – to prove oneself through courageous and difficult action 

  4. Outlaw – to seek revenge or revolution

  5. Lover – to attain Intimacy and sensual pleasure

  6. Magician – to seek knowledge of the fundamental laws of how the universe works

  7. Ruler – to control

  8. Jester – to live in the moment

  9. Explorer – the freedom to find out who they are through exploring the world 

  10. Innocent – to be happy

  11. Sage – to discover the truth 

  12. Caregiver –  to protect people from harm 

Why Archetypes Are So Powerful?

Brand archetypes are a powerful tool to have in our branding toolkit as they bypass a plethora of other marketing techniques and forge a direct connection to your audiences' deepest desires. 

It’s a busy, noisy marketplace out there and to be able to cut through the noise by speaking to deep-felt desires and emotions is powerful stuff. Most businesses compete on features, benefits, and price….. so building a deeper more meaningful connection with your audience is a winning strategy.

How to Use Archetypes In Your Branding

Brand archetypes represent different aspects of our personalities so the trick is to identify what aspect of your customer’s personality you want your brand to appeal to.  Although tempting to include lots of brand archetypes the research shows that it’s better to focus on one, perhaps two archetypes at most, or you run the risk of diluting your message.

I find looking at examples always helps so let’s dive into one now…

Nike. They are the quintessential hero brand. Their  ‘Just Do It’ tagline calls the hero to action! They appeal to the hero in each of us…. to prove our commitment, our courage, and our determination. 

The hero’s motto is “Where there’s a will there’s a way” and all of Nike’s marketing – their imagery, messaging, design, and attitude is geared up to inspire the hero in all of us. Encouraging us to rise to the challenge! To choose courage and mastery over fear!

As you consider which brand archetype to choose for your own brand keep in mind some archetypes work better with different industries. A hospital, for example, would find it difficult to embody the jester archetype.

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