If you’re a moviegoer, you might be surprised to find out you know more about brand archetypes than you think you do. It’s a fancy word, but with a very important meaning for communication strategy.
Have you noticed that many heroes come from a sad, fearful past? Think Batman or Luke Skywalker! Or, can you count all the characters you recall that are pure dreamers full of optimism and believe in changing the world just for goodness’ sake. Picture Amelie, Wall-E and Forest Gump sitting in the same restaurant and sharing a Coke. They symbolize something to all of us. And they’re created with a purpose: to touch us in a deep emotional level.
Archetypes are based on Carl Jung’s theory that humans relate in a subconscious level to universal images that represent our inner desires. This concept has been defined into 12 characters with a distinctive personality that resonates in all of us, on different levels. But, is this still relevant with brands today? The answer is definitely “Yes”.
“Successful brands have a strong sense of identity, one that mirrors the hopes and aspirations of their customers. But finding your voice – especially as a small business – can be difficult. And expensive. Identifying your brand archetype from this list will save you time and money and connect you instantly to your audience.”
Have you thought of your brand like a character in some kind of story? Brand archetypes ignite feelings and keep brand communication consistent.
According to Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson: “Brand icons go further. It is not just that archetypal symbols and images are used to position the brand, but that, over time, the brand itself takes on symbolic significance.” (The Hero and the Outlaw. 2001. McGraw-Hill). Some brands combine archetypes for a more subtle and believable personality. Here’s a condensed look at the basics:
- Innocent. Optimistic and free spirited with a huge sense of wonder. It’s like Inside Out’s Joy strolling through Ikea. Brands project simplicity and make you smile.
- Hero. Challenge-driven. Brave competitor. Responds efficiently and quickly to opportunities. Like Michael Jordan sending a box of Band-Aid’s using FedEx.
- Everyman. The guy/gal next door. Realistic, friendly and emphatic. Wants to feel part of something. Like having a bowl of Cheerios watching a GAP TV Commercial.
- Caregiver. An unconditional mentor. Consistent, generous and trustworthy. Picture Ghandi inspired by Dove.
- Creator. Self-expression at its best. Imaginative and innovative. Executes creative ideas. Just like a kid playing LEGO’s while his dad looks for the Home Depot deals.
- Lover. Magnetic and passionate. Reflects luxury and glamour. Pleasure is keyword. Picture a Victoria Secret’s models lounging in a W Hotel, indulging on Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
- Maverick. Breaks the rules. They’re brave and free-spirited. They share and seek unique content and are against the status quo. James Dean riding a Harley Davidson.
- Explorer. Independent, can’t settle down. Brands that help people to feel free and uncover new paths. It’s all in the journey. Did you know Starbucks fits this archetype? Well, it’s curious and on the go.
- Ruler. Think about confidence and stability, with a solid image. They will give an impression of being leaders in their field. Jay-Z with a Rolex. You get the idea!
- Magician. Dazzles audience. Promotes wonder and faith. It’s charismatic. Think of Tim Burton walking around Disney with a Polaroid.
- Sage. Seeks the truth and shares wisdom. Methodical, likes to do research. Your brand here is Yoda taking a Rosetta Stone course.
- Entertainer. A lighthearted brand that makes you smile. Brings fun! A jester brand helping you deal with hard moments. Geico and Skittles are great entertainers.
These are just the basics. Like people, brands are complex, and the challenge is to bring an interesting and efficient strategy from the combination of two or more archetypes. When your brand acquires a consistent personality, the audience can recognize, relate and react to it.
And you might be asking, how does the Hispanic – and multicultural – question enter the equation? Well, brand archetypes are a powerful tool to better reach them. By studying what’s culturally relevant for them, we can customize strategic archetypes that speak to their needs and desires.
At Dieste we’re always on the lookout for ways to create engagement with our complex multicultural audience. Be sure to subscribe to Provoke Weekly to find out more.