No matter how much we wish that our rational mind drove our purchasing decisions, the reality is that we are heavily influenced by emotions and our unconscious.
That’s why successful brands have a personality that appeals to its target market. These successful brands often activate an emotional connection with their ideal consumer by developing a brand archetype—an iconic character or feeling that makes the brand easier to identify.
Archetypes: From Psychology to Marketing
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed symbols and myths are part of our collective unconscious—memories and ideas shared among all humanity no matter what culture or time period you were born into. He called these shared concepts archetypes.
Rather than being born a ‘clean slate,’ Jung believed we were born with a collective unconscious. We can all relate to the character and themes that are part of our collective unconscious, and they often appear in our dreams and culture via paintings, films, and books.
Archetypes give us ideal images, thoughts, or roles that have universal meanings such as The Caregiver or The Explorer. After World War II, 12 Brand Archetypes based on Jung’s work began to be used with great success when applied to product branding and consumer marketing.
The Marlboro Man campaign first appeared in 1955 and appealed to The Outlaw archetypal tendencies of rugged, adventurous, and rebellious. After its debut, sales jumped more than 5,000 percent.
All you need to do to understand another example is to think about how you feel when you hear the word Nike. Current controversy aside, they tap into the power of The Hero archetype when they communicate their brand’s purpose through inspiration, strength, and confidence, and success followed.
How to Determine your Brand’s Archetype
Quite simply, developing your brand’s archetype is just personifying your brand. By illustrating your brand’s personality through a character or theme that resonates with everyone, it helps your ideal client connect with your brand through shared emotions and values.
First, you must consider the backbone of your organization.
What values drive your work?
What’s ‘The Why’ for what you do?
If you are going to describe your organization’s personality, what elements would you include?
Review the 12 brand archetypes and find the one that fits your organization best. Although it will be tempting to settle for a couple of archetypes that seem to fit, the most powerful brands identify with just one.
1. The Innocent
- Goal: To be happy
- Characteristics: Playful, cheerful, optimistic
- Brand Examples: Coca-Cola, Dove Soap, Snuggle
2. The Regular Guy or Gal
- Goal: To connect with others
- Characteristics: Practical, trusting, loyal
- Brand Examples: Target, Home Depot, Trader Joe’s
3. The Outlaw
- Goal: Breaks the rules
- Characteristics: Risk-taker, wild, rebellious
- Brand Examples: Harley-Davidson, Virgin, Urban Outfitters
4. The Jester
- Goal: To help others have fun
- Characteristics: Entertaining, mischievous, energetic
- Brand Examples: Southwest, GEICO, Ben & Jerry’s
5. The Hero
- Goal: To improve the world
- Characteristics: Brave, inspirational, direct
- Brand Examples: Nike, U.S. Army, Duracell
6. The Sage
- Goal: To help others gain wisdom and truth
- Characteristics: Thoughtful, knowledgeable, advisor
- Brand Examples: BBC, PBS, Mayo Clinic
7. The Explorer
- Goal: Find yourself through discovery and adventure
- Characteristics: Independent, self-motivating, adventurous
- Brand Examples: Jeep, North Face, Kashi
8. The Creator
- Goal: To create something meaningful
- Characteristics: Imaginative, inventive, quirky
- Brand Examples: Crayola, LEGO, HGTV
9. The Ruler
- Goal: To create order and community
- Characteristics: Responsible, confident, organized
- Brand Examples: Mercedes-Benz, American Express, Rolex
10. The Magician
- Goal: Create something special and make dreams come true
- Characteristics: Empowering, charismatic, idealistic
- Brand Examples: Disney, TED, Make-a-Wish
11. The Lover
- Goal: To inspire love and enjoyment
- Characteristics: Warm, passionate, committed
- Brand Examples: Godiva, Victoria’s Secret, Food Network
12. The Caregiver
- Goal: To care for and protect others
- Characteristics: Maternal, nurturing, generous
- Brand Examples: Campbell’s Soup, TOMS Shoes, Kleenex
As you work through these archetypes you begin to see how determining your brand’s archetype will have a powerful emotional appeal for your ideal client. Our team at Costello Creative Group excels at taking an organization’s brand and interpreting it throughout all communications.
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