Archetypes in Identity and Branding

christopher

The Current Advertising Climate 

Successful advertising depends on authenticity and relatability. Since the social media boom at the beginning of the 21st century, brands are expected to come across as more honest and human than ever; the technology has pioneered direct connection, unbuffered and instant, and consumers have grown to expect real engagement and candid communication with companies. 

Marketers have always been looking for the most powerful methods of understanding consumer motivations and have, in recent years, identified relatability and connection as critical points of focus. The simplest way for a business to relate to consumers is to become more human in its interactions and aesthetics, for every consumer is, after all, human. 

The human side of the business is its brand, which explains why branding has become so fashionable. By accepting a brand’s humanity, one must embrace its multifaceted nature and the number of minor actions and movements that come together to define its complex personality. Worthwhile engagement takes charisma. Even quiet brands have appeal, and this doesn’t happen naturally through backseat simplicity. It is achieved by a proactive and deliberate strategic approach to minimalism. Creating an engaging brand takes work. 

This writing attempts to make the complex appear simple by breaking down some of the most powerful means of defining and creating real personality in business – for marketers, brands, and people to build and recognize emotion, attraction, and meaning in the material world.

The Nature of Primitive Judgement 

Humans are hard-wired to judge. It’s nothing new, and it’s not as harmful as it sounds. It’s not harmful at all, actually. These judgments are all happening naturally, through making both small and significant assessments of aesthetics and patterns of behaviour. And we humans draw these conclusions in the subconscious, too, so there’s no escape. This behaviour isn’t a modern invention but a part of life and society. It’s a system of appreciation, and it strikes at fundamental human nature; it’s the momentum behind the laws of attraction and a crucial part of our evolution as a species. 

If you’re not used to thinking about modern branding in such primitive terms, then get used to it. Because what does ‘primitive’ mean anyway? Consider these words – essential, fundamental, basic. It’s human. Every successful brand – corporate and personal – gets it right because they have laid down foundations firmly in primitive, essential, fundamental, basic, and human ground. Furthermore, these successful brands have been canny enough to continue to build on these foundations to ensure that these basic foundations continue to act as the pivot around which the entire brand and business operates. And they make these foundations as humanly relatable as possible concerning aesthetic and emotion. 

What we choose to show to the world and how we choose to say it really does matter. It determines what people will think of us, and that’s not superficial. It matters greatly. It decides who our friends will be, who we influence, and how we impact the world – the way we interact with the world daily and the legacy we will leave behind. What people think of us and who we choose to associate with is essential. How we express ourselves is the most significant determining factor in deciding our groups, audiences, followers, friends, and fans. Basically, everyone in our life. 

Now that the importance of judgment and image has been established, the next crucial step is to take a step back and consider how a company or person might want to construct an image and express themselves. The key to all of this, and the purpose of this writing, comes down to knowing who you are. Understanding and accepting yourself without doubt, and proud enough to own your identity. You’ve got to dig deep to find this out for real. That’s the first step, the genesis of the brand. If you don’t know who you are, then it’s not going to work. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have an identity. Everyone and everything have one – it’s inescapable. The unasked and straightforward act of ‘being’ impresses an identity upon all things and all people. Failure to learn about your own identity runs the risk of coming across as a little confused, wandering aimlessly across the surface of the world, acting without really knowing the reason, and spending time with people who aren’t quite right for you. Because if you don’t know yourself, how can you expect anyone else to know you? 

And this is why we’re here, talking about the role of archetypes in identity and branding. Identifying fundamental archetypes in personal and corporate branding is the strongest way to define individuality and then learn how to benefit from it. That’s how you begin to build something with personality and the potential to impact people.

Archetypes 

Archetypes are figures of universal and inherited patterns of behaviour rooted in the collective unconscious. They are perfect and simplified characters that a person or a brand can embody, consciously or otherwise. And therein lies the importance of understanding this subject; simply by being, every person and brand inhabits certain archetypes. The public – subconsciously or otherwise – is picking up on that. Everyone judges and everyone gets judged. That’s something worth understanding and controlling. 

Archetypes is a model of understanding personality brought into modern consciousness by Carl Jung, expanding upon Plato’s ‘elemental forms.’ Each of Jung’s twelve archetypes has its unique set of characteristics, values, attitudes, and behavioural traits. Each archetype is sometimes called by another name, but the twelve archetypes are: 

  1. Caregiver 
  1. Creator 
  1. Entertainer 
  1. Explorer 
  1. Neighbour 
  1. Hero 
  1. Innocent 
  1. Lover 
  1. Magician 
  1. Maverick 
  1. Ruler 
  1. Sage 

More broadly, Jung’s twelve archetypes can be grouped into four defining groups: 

  1. Freedom 
  1. Social 
  1. Order 
  1. Ego 

These parent groups empower people to begin to apply Jung’s model to real-life personalities accurately. Do you long to be free or prefer rules and guidelines? Do you live to please others or achieve greatness for yourself? Answering these simple questions honestly should simplify a person’s search for the most accurate archetype – first, from the four parent groups, and then one or two from the twelve archetypes – but it takes a specific critical skill to perceive these simple questions with sincerity. Freedom and order are opposites, as are social and ego, but people and brands are complex beasts; there are occasions in a person’s life when freedom is called for and others when order is required. The same goes for thinking in terms of society and selfishly. Each parent group has been chosen because it strikes deep at a unique human need. Somebody might book a wild safari holiday longing to break free from their routine and then immediately order travel insurance to feel safe. Life is about navigating each of these four disparate needs, not picking one path and following it blindly. Still, if we’re honest, we will pinpoint which of the four needs is the predominant motivator behind most of the critical decisions made by a person or brand. 

Jung shows how our unconscious thoughts and actions can be explained by relatable images and stories. Born was a perfect design to channel behaviour and image to elicit specific emotions from people. A brand with a backstory of heroic rise against all odds will inspire others to achieve similarly heroic feats in their own lives. Providing the correct steps are taken to identify a brand’s true archetype, drawing an audience of people who relate to the stories and character of a brand can be pretty straightforward. It can happen almost subconsciously. 

Be True to Yourself 

Here is perhaps the right time to address a potential concern: an archetype will indeed inspire people to invest in a brand, but a brand cannot pretend to embody an archetype that it simply isn’t, for then a brand would become false, and people are wise to false brands as they are to false people. Thus, an archetype only becomes a true asset for a brand when it’s a true reflection of it.  

When a company realizes its true archetypes and builds its brand around that ‘human’ focus, people respond because it’s human. People don’t just buy products or services. Instead, a person buys into a brand and becomes an active part of its community, engaged in a two-way relationship that exceeds a single purchase by a great distance. 

The advertising and marketing industry has, to some degree, applied Jung’s twelve models to its practice, but not as comprehensively as it perhaps ought to. Before the brand mission, the slogan, logo, and anything else, a company (and whichever agency has the account) had better know who they are. So the first stage of any branding or rebranding project is understanding what the brand’s archetypes are. Because no one brand, just like no one person, can be accurately defined by one surface view. 

The result can be complex, but that makes it real. The people that draw our attention in real life are not simple; they are challenging and varied characters, with something to say and a unique way to say it. So why shouldn’t a company be the same? 

It’s the agency’s role to take the complex character of a brand and simplify it for the owners of the company and its audience. Still, it’s worth the effort, and the outcomes are boundless: a company becomes a genuine brand, relatable to people because it finds and concentrates on its most fundamental truths; it appeals to a person’s instincts and unconscious connections authentically and naturally; it drives engagement and inspires motivation, influencing purchasing behaviour; it cultivates a culture of trust between itself and its audience; it represents images and stories that are so fundamental to the needs and desires of humans that they predate even the evolution of language. 

Archetypes, rooted in what attracts one human to another, provide the ideal platform for building a brand to engage with people in the future. 

The Pursuit of Paradise 

  • Innocent
  • Explorer
  • Sage 

These three archetypes centre on various strategies of fulfilment: the innocent carries a childlike belief that everything and anything is possible, sometimes naively blocking out the negativity and realism of the world to maintain their sunny world view; the explorer is always seeking something new in the hope that this will lead them somewhere better, in constant search of adventure in the world and enlightenment within; the Sage seeks information and learning to find the answers to life’s more profound questions, trusting that the mind is the key to all of the world’s problems. In each archetype’s pursuit, there is a focus on the self over others and autonomy over belonging. 

It’s important to note that this claim of a focus on the self isn’t to imply that these archetypes fail to exercise an influence on other people because the power and appeal of the innocent, the explorer, and the Sage on other people are as strong as any other archetype group. It’s a matter of how. These archetypes may focus on the self, but that’s how they inspire and keep their audiences, and every quality that creates and defines their archetype rubs off on their audience.

The Innocent 

The Innocent looks at a person and sees only their good side. More than anything, the idealistic Innocent wants peace and harmony, and they are always hopeful. They love the simple things in life, and they believe that kindness leads to happiness. Ultimately, that’s what they want – to be happy in a world full of happy people. Therefore, their intentions are pure when making decisions and forming strategies. They believe that if they mean well and act with integrity, they will succeed. They have faith that the good prevail in life. Their biggest fear is probably being punished for doing something they shouldn’t have done. Although you can be confident that the Innocent didn’t mean to do wrong, it will trouble them deeply to cause problems and unhappiness in the world. 

The Innocent archetype belongs to brands with a superb moral code, well-meaning brand values, and a simple touch. Such companies are deemed extremely trustworthy by the public, and, more often than not, they follow through on promises: good intentions only account for half of it – an Innocent brand is expected to be reliable as well. In this regard, they differentiate themselves from brands with negative reputations. Also, their products and services will probably be more moderately priced and produced via uncomplicated and ethical means. The business of an Innocent brand is likely to involve offering a simple solution to an identifiable problem and doing so in an honourable fashion. The culture of an Innocent brand comes from solid and respectable brand values, always positive. They want everyone who comes into contact with the brand to feel peaceful and happy. 

Innocent (the healthy drinks brand called Innocent) is an ideal example. The brand tone is sweet and playful, suggesting on its packaging that you call them on the ‘banana phone‘ or write to them at ‘Fruit Towers.’ The logo is a childlike sketch of a face crowned with an angelic halo. Dove is another Innocent brand, less naive and childlike but just as pure and straightforward. This nature is noticeable from its name, logo, and white and bright colour scheme, and it continues through all of its advertising and messages. 

The Explorer

The explorer lives for freedom, adventure, and to discover the unknown. With a fiercely independent nature, they never stop seeking new experiences that almost always centre on self-realization. They are curious to the extreme, and an authentic backbone to their character helps them come across as trustworthy. Although they love to explore with independence and with the spirit of freedom, they’re not cut off from people. They just find it difficult to stay in one place for a long time. They strive to live an exciting and fulfilling life, meeting amazing friends on the way and never feeling trapped with boundaries and mundane routines. There must be meaning to an explorer’s mission to prevent them from rambling aimlessly. 

An explorer brand likes to do whatever they want without boundaries. They answer self-seeking questions such as ‘Why are we here?’ with bold journeys. Their lives must have meaning, and they believe that the answers they seek are hidden somewhere in the world for them to unearth. The explorer will always want to know the truth, whether positive or negative, a help or a hindrance. A brand that identifies with the explorer archetype is likely to embrace the whole culture of exploration, often offering products that facilitate consumption on the road and a message that shows love and respect to the customer’s individuality. The products and services an explorer brand offers are exciting and new, sometimes even associated with an element of risk and plenty of adventure.  

Red Bull. That’s an explorer brand. The Red Bull Stratos project, for example, saw Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner execute the highest skydive on record. He became the first human to break the sound barrier without using an engine. This is what explorer brands do, and that’s the message they preach to their community. They give you wings. On the subject of space, NASA is one of the most iconic explorer brands in the world. The ‘Midnight Blue and Orioles Orange’ colour scheme is typical of an explorer brand, bold and optimistic. The brand image is all about inspiration and aspiration, supporting a curious and questioning nature. 

Regarding the brand voice, there isn’t much to say about limitations. Everything and anything is possible. It’s all about freedom. We’re all part of a great adventure, and every explorer brand knows this. And when they find what they’re looking for, they’ll find the right words.

The Sage 

The Sage’s mission in life is to seek the answers to all of life’s questions. They are intelligent, knowledgeable, and reflective, and they focus on the truth and what is right above anything else. The Sage thrives on knowledge. They are generous too and love to benefit others by sharing their findings. However, the Sage can be a bit of a perfectionist in their pursuits, and it’s important they remember to act decisively instead of spending too long in research and study. Being deceived by someone else – which would only work to undermine their intelligence – is one of their biggest fears in life. 

Brands that identify with the Sage archetype provide accurate information or a high level of expertise to customers. They encourage people to think and to understand the world better. A Sage brand is more likely to deal with proven facts and indisputable analysis, and they differentiate themselves from unreliable brands by being correct, respectable, and trustworthy. 

The brand voice uses sophisticated language and extensive vocabulary. A Sage brand will be structured to offer employees freedom of thought, encouraging analytical thinking. Its customer experience might involve problem-solving and deep conversation. The colours a Sage brand might use are Peacock, Navy, and Rose Taupe. 

The University of Cambridge is a Sage. Its motto ‘Hinc lucem et pocula sacra.’ – the non-literal translation being ‘From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge.’ – is a perfect example of what a Sage brand does. The institution educates people in the most definite and highest sense. Another Sage brand, for different reasons, is Toyota. In 2016, Toyota formed the Toyota Research Institute to promise $1 billion to artificial intelligence research.

Making an Impact 

  • Hero
  • Maverick
  • Magician

Each of the archetypes within this group of three focus on creating structures that transform the lives of people: the Hero lives an inspiring narrative, self-made and ambitious, a rags-to-riches and against-all-odds journey that is likely to inspire even the most pallid-white individuals of the population; the maverick challenges the status quo and isn’t afraid to break the rules, embracing risk and offering people a new and better way of doing things, and often a way that would have never crossed the minds of anyone else; the Magician takes pleasure in delighting audiences with exhibitions of magic and transformation in everyday life, appealing to the sense of wonderment in people who long life to have a little more charisma. 

Although quite different on the surface, each archetype centres on achieving targets and changing the world. They are not subtle, quiet, and passive. This way lies loud action and compelling narratives. 

The Hero 

The Hero carries the responsibility of changing the world for the better on their shoulders. They are responsive in solving problems and making decisions. To say they believe in themselves is an understatement, but they also believe in their followers, and they are always convincing the people around them that they can improve and achieve great things. Success is everything to them. The Hero is determined, focused, and orientated on achievement. Furthermore, they’ve got their minds on more than the moment; they’re thinking about their legacy. They want to make a difference in the world now, and they want people to remember them. 

The Hero brand loves innovative action that makes a massive impact, including major social and environmental issues of the era. It wants to motivate and inspire its community to have the same effect on the world, with each individual being the best they can be at the same time. The message always has a dual focus: improve the world and improve yourself. One factor that helps people relate to a Hero brand is that they are often an underdog or a challenger. They differentiate themselves from the competition by following through on their promises, and there’s often a clear rival with which they find themselves in competition. The products and services that a Hero brand offers help people do difficult jobs and do them well. They hate to feel vulnerable, and they have to be careful not to come across as overly confident and confrontational. 

One brand that fits almost all of the characteristics above (the positive ones, anyway) is Nike. Just Do It inspires people to believe that they can achieve their goals. Duracell is another Hero brand, always using positive language, such as “lasts longer.” Its advertising is reminiscent of a sports brand in tone, and that’s because of its Hero archetype. The voice and image of a Hero brand are confident. They inspire people. Bold words and colours. All action.

The Maverick 

The Maverick, sometimes called the Rebel, is the most likely to start a revolution. They shake up the status quo with unconventional thinking and approaches that go way beyond being described as ‘cutting-edge.’ They encourage others to share their perspective that the accepted conventions and means are stifling, for the many or the few. It’s time for a change – now. Who cares about the rules? Who cares about etiquette? Fixing what’s broken is all that matters. 

The Maverick archetype is likely to identify with brands that aren’t afraid of talking about and dealing with taboo subjects, products, and services. They aren’t scared of the shadows; they embrace them and enjoy the subversive reputation. But a balance must be struck, and the Maverick mustn’t go too far to the dark side. Rebellion is one thing, and crime another. They don’t want to be villains. They just want to be powerful and influence the world. They attract people who feel disenfranchised from society and want something new. These brands tell people that it’s okay to be different and, even further, that being different is best. The products and services from a Maverick brand are often low to moderately priced. The culture is counter-cultural, based on fight and challenge. The brand voice isn’t afraid to say “fuck” in public and never recoils from the fear of being reprimanded. And, more than anything, the customer experience must be liberating and exciting. Expect to see blacks, reds, and petrol colours, suggesting danger and boldness. 

Richard Branson’s Virgin is a Maverick brand from the name alone, a provocative choice, especially considering that the company was founded in 1970. It has proven its disruptive nature in several industries, including banking, travel, entertainment, health, and communications. They disrupt and do things differently because they believe that life should be better. Harley Davidson is another Maverick brand. They fulfil dreams of personal freedom, encouraging people to break away from the accepted norms and travel without restrictions on the open road. 

The Magician 

Making the ordinary appear extraordinary is the Magician’s purpose in life. They’re obsessed with the art of this transformation, seeking to inspire audiences with their mastery of change. They are intuitive and insightful, skilled at turning a problem into an opportunity, a rigid structure into a dynamic one, and helping the repressed become engaged and excited. The word ‘difficulty’ means something different to the Magician: they view the concept as a challenge to overcome in their own fantastic way, causing wonder in everyone who witnessed the victory. 

A brand that recognises the Magician as a key archetype in its makeup loves to make dreams come true and achieve the seemingly impossible. They are likely to begin life with a vision, and they do everything in their power to make it happen. This behaviour could lead to unintended consequences, like the fear of causing problems for others out of their monomania mindset. It takes so much to make the impossible possible, and sometimes the more minor details get lost in the big picture. The Magician only wants to inspire and create unforgettable experiences for people, and they attempt to cause change within people and expand people’s consciousness in life-changing ways. The products and services are user-friendly and are generally medium to high-priced. The colour scheme often uses dark and deep shades of purples such as Russian Violet. Other popular colours are Wintergreen and Copper. 

The brand voice is full of charisma. They want everyone to share their vision, and that takes excitement and personality. When consumers interact with the brand, the experience must centre on creating magic. Disney should be the first brand that comes to mind – the vision of one person has inspired millions of children and adults worldwide, with movies, music, characters, and even with its own world. Dreams. Magic. Imagine. These are words that continue to appear throughout its brand messaging. Tesla is another fine example of a Magician brand, which was founded on the concept of making the impossible possible. The SpaceX ad campaign where Tesla became the first car in space demonstrates this point perfectly. Still, it’s just as evident in its essential elements too: it’s an efficient and environmentally-friendly car that runs without petrol and still looks incredible. 

We’re Stronger Together 

  • Neighbour
  • Lover
  • Entertainer 

This trio of archetypes each have a personality that longs for connection and the comforts of companionship to function at their total capacity and help their audience feel content, too: the Neighbour is a morally sound and honest character who enjoys a life in which people are kind to one another; the Lover turns heads and creates intense relationships with people through a decadent seduction of the senses; the entertainer wants everyone to smile, enjoy life, and have a good time while we’re on the earth, appreciating the moment and each other in the process. 

Despite the unique motivations and atmospheres in play, there is a strong emphasis on belonging to a group. Belonging, in the broadest sense, groups the Neighbour, Lover, and Entertainer archetypes.

The Neighbour 

The Neighbour, referred to as the Everyman and the Guy or Girl Next Door, is a down-to-earth, reliable, and trustworthy character. They achieve this confidence in people by showing impressive empathy levels, being unpretentious in times of success, and being resilient when faced with difficult situations. The Neighbour loves to be accepted into the group and thrives from a strong sense of belonging. In return, they are likely to accept and embrace others. They are good-natured in their sense of humour, laidback, and charming. The Neighbour must maintain a grip of their identity despite their selfless behaviour; blending in is a part of their makeup, and they fear being left out of the loop, but they must take care not to lose themselves in the crowd. 

The Neighbour brand is often family-focused and generally serves a basic, everyday need without being over the top. They are hard-working and always make sure that everyone they come into contact with feels valued. Functionality and modesty are critical attributes of a product or service that a Neighbour brand offers. The company will likely have a highly organised and reliable business model, adhere to powerfully simple brand values, and offer employees and customers stability and a strong sense of belonging. Everyone is included, and everyone is welcome. 

IKEA is a Neighbour brand. It offers people simple and affordable items for the home, and the brand never pretends to be something it isn’t. They showed their casual, fun side after Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting sold for $450 million at auction, basing a campaign around picture frames. The tagline read, ‘When you spend $450 on a painting, but don’t like the frame.’ Morten Kjaer, creative director at IKEA Creative Hub, said. “At IKEA, we believe anyone should have the possibility to decorate their home without spending their life savings. That’s why IKEA offers a range of frames that work with any photo, print, or painting you want to show off, even those from the 1490s.” This quote is in keeping with all of the archetype traits of a Neighbour. Down to earth, laidback, affordable, modest, and charming. The visuals of a Neighbour brand are bright and lively, appealing to the uplifting and welcoming qualities of the personality. 

The Lover 

The Lover longs to make people feel special. They are attentive, passionate, and committed to this mission and the people around them. Although they are intimate and fixated on genuine connections with other people, they are not limited to romantic and sensual behaviour. They aren’t trying to seduce everyone; they only want to create significant relationships based on devotion and luxury. It’s all about love, whether romantic, spiritual, parental, friendship, or family. 

The Lover brand wants people to feel appreciated and connected. Their products and services can help people find friends or partners or provide a sense of belonging. They are generally more expensive than brands of other archetypes, but customers accept this because the Lover brand makes them feel special and promises a good time. They often embrace a loose and fun-loving organizational structure, differentiating themselves from over-confident brands, which can come across as self-important. The brand culture of a Lover is connected and centred on creating and maintaining meaningful relationships. The voice is seductive and enticing, drawing people into a welcoming experience and making people feel special. The Lover’s biggest fear is being unwanted and alone, giving so much and receiving little or nothing in return. They will always try to build relationships and please people. People-pleasing has a drawback to it – the Lover sometimes doesn’t realize that absolute confidence in oneself stems from loving yourself, not depending on the attention of others. 

Victoria’s Secret is a Lover. Its products make people feel sexy, and every part of the brand matches – the advertising campaigns use seductive lighting and language to invite people to fantasize. They are a luxury brand, more expensive than the more average competition, but their products give people confidence and make them feel good, creating unique and loving relationships. Although less sexy, Ferrari is another Lover brand. They use the senses to sell the expensive Ferrari experience, all sleek and seductive. The signature Ferrari red is typical of a Lover archetype, too, as are the following colours: plum, cherry, rose, cafe, and blush. 

The Entertainer 

The entertainer was born to lift people’s spirits, lighten the mood, and share the philosophy that life is a gift that everyone should enjoy. With playful enthusiasm, they embrace the inner child and can be very spontaneous at times. Unpredictability can be a strength for this archetype, and they will use it to surprise people in positive ways. They have a unique and powerful method of diffusing difficult situations, using wit and humour. The entertainer loves the limelight and is never afraid to stand out. 

Entertainer brands want customers to have a great time, encouraging them to be more impulsive, often lowering the price of their products and services to promote the possibility of spontaneity further. Companies that identify with this archetype are confident and fun-loving; their mission is to enjoy life and help others enjoy their lives. They provide people a real sense of belonging for their fans and followers, creating a community in the truest sense of the word. The most painful situation that an entertainer can imagine is one full of boredom, and sometimes they find it challenging to keep their minds on the job. They prefer to be curious than to follow a well-worn path. Deadlines and routine errands will sometimes be ignored over having a good time. Still, the entertainer believes that life is too short to be serious. Their adoring community accepts their slight unreliability because they appreciate that the world needs to laugh and have a great time. 

And the aesthetics of an entertainer brand? It’s all about energy and volume. If they’re going to stand out, they’ve got to be heard, and the simplest way to be heard is to speak the loudest. But, of course, speaking the loudest isn’t a strategic decision but more of a natural byproduct of not containing their excitement. An entertainer brand has substance as well as style, though. Once they get noticed, they justify the attention. They’re intelligent, humorous, and uplifting. 

M&M’s and Skittles are Entertainer brands. The ‘Spokescandies‘ of the M&M’s ads – the most well-known being the sardonic Red and the dim-witted but sweet Yellow cartoons – are loud, amusing, excitable, and designed to make viewers see that the brand just wants to have fun. Likewise, Skittles’ iconic ‘Taste the Rainbow‘ tagline urges people to enjoy life, and Skittles provides an excellent example of the colour scheme often adopted by Entertainer brands. Vibrant and vivid, bright and innocent. The colours of the rainbow.

Embracing Structure and Order 

  • Caregiver
  • Creator
  • Ruler

There is a reason for structure and order, and these archetypes love the security and stability they bring: the Caregiver provides protection for others and seeks a person’s trust in return; the Creator structures experience and feelings into creative forms; the Ruler takes control and responsibility to reinforce the status quo. Each archetype thrives in stable situations and succeeds when consumers seek a little piece of stability in an uncertain world. 

Structure and order can mean many different things, and it’s essential to keep an open mind when speaking about these base concepts. As people, we bring certain judgments and prejudices to words, especially ones as emotive as ‘order.’ It might mean conjure up ideas of being imprisoned to one person, but that’s taking a leap that must be avoided at this introductory stage. The specific nuances of words cannot be looked into too deeply. The literal face-value of the words takes the lead in exercises of identifying archetypes in business. If a word doesn’t sound right, we have to strip away specific associations and ask again if it is correct. It’s perfectly reasonable for a brand to embrace the concept of order and not want the word ‘order’ used in any brand material, for example. 

The Caregiver 

At the heart of a caregiver’s mission is the desire to help others. They do this by ensuring that anyone who comes into contact with them feels taken care of and secure, with kindness and compassion. A caregiver is only content when they know that the people under their watch feel entirely safe, calm, and looked after. On the other hand, a caregiver will feel disappointed with themselves and unhappy if they are neglected or faced with a situation in which they feel unappreciated. Still, a thoughtful strategy should lead to an incredibly grateful community, and sometimes the only negative of being a caregiver is running the risk of being exploited by those looking to take advantage of their gentle nature. 

The caregiver archetype can work well for companies that love to nurture people, such as those that feed, teach, and treat people medically. The catering, education, and healthcare industries are full of caregivers, but a company from any industry can still be a caregiver. It’s about showing generosity, empathy, and helping people in their lives, which a brand can do within any industry. The beauty of the concept of a brand is that its culture surpasses the everyday workings of the business. The brand has its roots deep into the company culture, its influence branching out into the complete reaches of the company, its employees, and its customers. So there is an opportunity to show traits of the caregiver archetype in all of these. 

The voice of a caregiver brand is generally soft and straightforward. The brand needs to be easily understood and consistent to successfully elicit a feeling of security from its community. When a charity asks for a donation, they generally use the word ‘please.’. There are exceptions to every rule, but a caregiver often prefers a polite and calm tone. The language can be less blunt, too, even when asking for a charitable donation in a critical situation. ‘Just $5 a month could feed a child for two weeks’ and ‘You can save lives by texting now’ are lines of copy from a British Red Cross campaign for Syria. On the surface, the second sentence is direct because it addresses the reader and demands attention from its first word. Still, a balance is struck by being decisively less direct in other places, with the modal auxiliary verbs ‘could’ and ‘can.’ It doesn’t take much imagination to be able to rewrite such a campaign in a far more direct and dramatic voice. But it wouldn’t fit a caregiver brand. 

The visual aesthetic of a caregiver brand is similarly soft, often using a colour scheme containing pastel shades of pinks, blues, and peach colours. Pampers, for example, adopt a colour scheme of Deep Carmine Pink, Tiffany Blue, and Banana Yellow, all of which are relatively soft, come together to connote a quality of composure, and install within people a sense of calm. 

The Creator 

The Creator’s purpose in life is to accomplish bold visions with new ideas. Whenever possible, they will apply innovation and unconventional thinking to stand out as individuals, solve problems, and realize dreams. However, sometimes a creator is faced with the difficulties of creative block and the impossible pursuit of perfectionism. The Creator must master these two problems to make the impact that their talent deserves. If they can overcome these two potential pitfalls, they are only limited by their own imagination. 

Creator brands are those who promote self-expression and like to empower customers with choices and options. A strategy that pivots around free-thinking and unusual solutions will aim to create the perfect product or service. Industries that involve art, production, and technology are full of brands that inhabit the creator archetype. In many respects, so many companies worldwide are creators by definition because they are making, innovating, and solving problems, so the creator archetype could be a part of many brands’ makeup without being its predominant one. 

The authentic Creator brands will do everything in their power to encourage customers to express themselves and think differently. Apple is the first brand related to this idea, especially its iconic slogan, ‘Think different.’ Apple has always championed innovation and creativity within their own walls, and they inspire customers to do the same with Apple products. 

A creator brand delivers its messages creatively, aiming to inspire. Lego, who ‘Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,’ is a massive creator brand. The company still produces the small, plastic blocks that children love to play with, but it has never stopped branching out and dreaming big, including the theme park, digital games, and blockbuster movies. 

Creators market themselves with bright and vibrant colours, communicating a sense of optimism and urgency. An excellent example of the inspiring language used by creator brands is the following line of copy that featured on an Adobe advert – “A lot of people never used their initiative because no one told them to.” Of course, the most noticeable technique is the witty and creative play of the content, but behind that is a forceful call to customers to create now. Nothing is stopping you. You are good enough, and we believe in you! 

The Ruler 

Sometimes referred to as the Royal, the Ruler is composed, competent, and responsible. They are leaders, and they create stable environments of prosperity for their people. The Ruler prides itself on sticking to the rules. They believe that they are there for a reason and that policy and procedure are vital in maintaining order. Chaos is not a concept the Ruler enjoys. The Ruler operates at their full potential when they have complete control, and they must take some care in ensuring that they don’t become overly authoritarian. They have to learn to trust others to carry out tasks as well as possible, and one of the most effective ways for a Ruler to impart knowledge to others is to act as a role model. Becoming a role model for others is perhaps their most important purpose in life, and they fear being overthrown and having someone take their place. 

Brands that identify with the Ruler archetype are organized industry leaders who offer people stability and security in a chaotic world. They provide high-status services and products that influential people use to make themselves feel powerful and become powerful. They are moderate to high priced, deliver a managing or protective function, and offer a lifetime guarantee. The Ruler differentiates itself from more popular brands by not being shy in announcing its leadership status. They don’t need to be famous; they want to exercise power, influence, and be in charge of a prosperous community. Colours such as Midnight Blue, Mulberry, and Army Green are popular amongst ruler brands. 

The brand voice is composed and authoritative, the brand culture leadership focused, and the brand experience sophisticated, structured, and professional. Mercedes-Benz is a classic Ruler brand, and people buy a Mercedes because they can afford one. It’s a symbol of status and a demonstration of power. Similarly, Rolex offers a product that only a few people can afford. In addition, the brand enjoys strong sponsorship relationships with the most prestigious sporting events in the world, including the U.S. Open in Golf, Wimbledon in Tennis, and Formula One in Motor Sports. And that’s just a few. They are comprehensively synonymous with the world’s most elite sporting events, showing all the qualities of a Ruler brand. 

Why Find Your Archetype? 

As we have explored, identifying with an archetype establishes internal and external meaning. It’s an exercise with so many benefits, either directly obvious benefits or indirect ones that advantage a brand in intangible but powerfully strengthening ways. It is fast becoming a standard requirement in the world of branding and advertising. 

One of the leading internal benefits of identifying an archetype is that it provides a company insight into its true self, leading to quicker and more accurate decisions. For example, when a business considers its logo, knowing its character will inform its decision-making, making the process more effective and efficient. Similarly, aligning the brand and the social media output will create much more impact online. For example, composing a Tweet in the unique brand voice, made with a considerable influence from identifying the company’s archetype, will be an exercise of authenticity; writing in the brand’s voice will feel natural, saving time in strategy and always sincere 

On the other hand, customers will also benefit from a company that has established its archetype. When consumers buy a product or service, they are investing in an idea. They are becoming part of a community of fellow consumers who are investing to use a company’s product or service to define their own identity. Consumers wear a logo on their clothes like a soccer team wears a team’s badge. Therefore, a company must signpost to attract the right people and bring them together. Along with other brand materials, the archetype powers the beacon to guide the right people to where they belong. 

Finding Your Archetype 

Fundamentally, finding your archetype is an exercise in stripping away the superfluous and the periphery and realizing your true core and purpose. So first, get more familiar with the twelve brand archetypes. Then ask the following questions: Why was the company created? What are the archetypes of your competitors, and why are you different from them? How has your company changed over the years? How have your customers and the nature of your industry changed over the years? 

Many of the questions at this early stage centre on exploring the company’s roots because this will most accurately reveal the soul of the business. Airbnb, the online service that lets homeowners rent out properties for rent, is a brand that benefits from knowing who they are and what they stand for. They are an explorer brand focused on empowering more accessible and affordable travel for all people. They are also a caregiver brand, and this is perhaps down to the nature of the service. They need to make people feel safe when they stay in other people’s homes, or the business fails. This truth makes the caregiver archetype a necessary element to the success of the business. As a result of knowing the soul of its brand with absolute certainty, the company’s brand materials, aesthetics, and campaigns are accurate and natural. One example is when Airbnb used its ‘Belong Anywhere‘ core brand value to raise more than $1M for refugees through the USA for UNHCR. Its message is clear, and this is due to the crystalized manner that it understands its identity and soul. 

In business terms, we’re talking about ‘company culture’ – if a business was a person, what would its motivation be? How would it live, and with whom would it want to be associated? These are questions that one can easily translate to traditional business ideas. What is the company’s mission statement? What does the company do? How do we deliver results, and who are our consumers? Taking the time to understand a company’s soul is relevant to all of these questions and so much more. 

The Airbnb example of raising money for refugees is perfect for demonstrating truth in the archetypes. Supporting refugees is perfectly aligned to the concepts of exploration and care. When searching for archetypes in a company, it isn’t enough to identify them; one must pinpoint specific examples in how they operate to prove them. To reiterate one of the essential purposes and benefits of archetypes: they appeal to people’s primitive nature and the laws of attraction, making sure consumers find the companies they want to invest in and, by extension, companies to which they wish to belong. If a company isn’t publicly behaving in the archetype’s way, it may have selected the wrong archetype. Therefore, proving an archetype through behaviour is an essential step in discovering an accurate archetype. 

The Path to Your Archetype 

Some products provide a clear pathway to a particular archetype. For example, technological breakthroughs, like television or photography, shortly after they were invented, make more sense being a magician archetype, which informs the companies’ advertising strategies that produce the product. Similarly, the soothing treat of hot chocolate, which brings to mind a winter evening inside by the fire, sipping a hot chocolate made by a loved one, naturally belongs to a caregiver archetype. 

The truth of these products is easy to prove with these archetypes. However, in more complex cases, it might help to ask why and when people use the product or service? Do they use it on special or particular occasions, or do they depend on it day in, day out? How invested is a typical customer in the product or service? Is the company more interested in increasing the frequency with which a regular customer supports or finding new customers? 

A company must also consider differentiation when selecting its archetype – does the archetype provide the perfect setting to demonstrate what makes the brand unique? If a company’s competition is occupying the same archetype, then how well are they embodying it? Is there an opportunity to more fully realize the archetype or realize it in a new manner? Has the competition flooded the area where a particular archetype operates and is there a bolder opportunity to embody an utterly new archetype in the industry? 

The industry leader is, by definition, likely to dominate its archetype ahead of the competition, just as it dominates most of the industry spaces that exist. Thus, differentiation becomes a substantial opportunity for every other company and a serious consideration in the archetype selection process. 

Book a free discovery session with us today and begin your journey. 

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