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Brand Archetypes: How to Build Phenomenal Brands leveraging the Power of Archetypes.

Learn how critical brand archetypes are in connecting people with brands.

There was a time when creating, building, and selling companies did not demand an unlimited supply of inspiration or capital. Demand outstripped supply, and markets were clear. Most of the time, products were physically distinct from one another, and brands were designed around those characteristics.


However, as the competition reached a certain level, every company, whether a multinational clothing company like Gucci or a friendly neighbourhood dry cleaner, faced a new obstacle. Competitors could mimic or duplicate the company’s manufacturing and distribution infrastructure, even its dry-cleaning processes, no matter how effective they are. In this situation, corporations(big or small) discovered that they have just two options: lower their prices or ingrain their products with more meaning. BBusiness-wise the latter makes more sense.


Brands are a part of our daily lives as our workplaces and local landmarks. Significant, lasting brands become cultural icons. For example, Coca-Cola’s logo is not only the most well-known in the world but has also come to symbolize the Western way of life. It is hard to put the finger on a single thing or feature of a brand that made it click for you. Sometimes you connect with a particular company more than others.


Have you ever wondered why some brands get to sit on the iron throne and earn millions of dollars while others have a hard time even hitting the ground running? The truth is, these brands grow in value not only due to their new features or benefits but also because their qualities are translated into compelling meanings. They were valued in the millions because they give their brand a larger-than-life meaning to their brand.


Let me give you a personal example. I’m a big fan of McDonald’s. If given a chance, I can eat at McDonald’s for all my three meals of the day. But why? Because I like the taste? Maybe! Have I not tried other fast food joints like Burger King, Taco Bell, etc.? Yes, I have tried other brands and had better burgers and fries. Or maybe I’ve been going to McDonald's since I was a child, and now I’ve acquired the taste? Probably. The correct answer lies in their brand positioning. Some of the traits that made millions of other people and be compelled to buy from them are as follows:

  • The Experience(most important): structuring the store so that everything their customers see, hear, smell, and taste is of A-one quality. Also, putting a glass partition between the kitchen and the delivery counter aroused a sense of credibility among the masses.


  • Affordable pricing: equipping themselves with modern machinery helped them increase production and allowed them to sell their products at lower prices than their competitors.


  • Quick Service: As the machines handled most of the tasks, they could deliver faster, and now they’ve more time to focus on the quality and variety of other products they can offer.

P.S. All of this sounds very obvious today, but when McDonald’s was just a startup, it made all the difference.


Now, how does all of this translate into branding? Back in the day, McDonald’s was one of the first brands that catered their products and store experience as per the desires of their customers — a restaurant where you can get a quick and authentic meal. This allowed the brand to become more human rather than portraying itself as a big corporation. This deeper archetypal meaning kept their customers tuned back in daily.


We saw a shift in consumer power when the Millennial generation and social media emerged, and consumers suddenly had a lot more power, forcing brands to become much more human. As a result, we’re seeing brands adopt many more human traits, using brand archetypes to act as the foundation to build those personas.

Nuts and bolts of Brand Archetypes

Meaning

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung when he first identified these archetypes, was looking at people, not brands. According to him, our unconscious actions are influenced by folk tales, shared universal behaviours, and common human instincts. Thus he made a list of 12 common characters or archetypes, which he repeatedly found in these stories and humans in general.


Since then, Jung’s archetypes have been used to understand individuals better, and it helps to answer crucial questions like, why does someone acts the way they do? Or why does someone thinks in this particular way? It helps us look at ourselves and notice what common traits we share with others, giving us a chance to connect better with people.


“Archetypes are imprinted and hardwired into our psyches.”


Each persona reflects specific behaviours embodied within these characters, known as archetypes. Each archetype will arouse a specific inner need within us based on their qualities.


When this concept is applied to marketing, you get a brand with a personality, a tone of voice, and other archetypal traits. By connecting your brand’s marketing and communication with your customers’ deep and unconscious desires, you can create a consistent culture inside the company that caters to those desires.


Carl Jung’s 12 Brand Archetypes


The world’s most successful companies have well-defined archetypes mirrored in their visual design, marketing, tone of voice, and products. Names of the twelve brand archetypes are The Explorer, Creator, Innocent, Everyman, Caregiver, Jester, Hero, Outlaw, Ruler, Magician, Lover, and Sage.


How to choose Brand Archetypes for your brand?


“Pen down your core values.”

For guidance, you’ll need to dive deep and look at your values and purpose statement. They are the conceptual cornerstones of your brand and will assist you in determining which archetype best matches your brand.


“Create an emotion around your brand.”

As you’ll see in the next point, all 12 archetypes are connected to a particular emotion. Consider what emotions you want your audience to feel when connecting with your brand.


For example:- Netflix has a jester archetype. The emotion associated with it is pleasure.


“Next Step: Choose from the wheel.”

Start from the middle. Choose the one which best aligns with your brand personality. Four options to choose from:

  1. Do you provide structure to your customers?

  2. Are you giving a spiritual journey experience?

  3. Does your mission statement entail leaving a mark on this world?

  4. Are you trying to connect and bring people together?

Although archetypes share these four underlying motives (mentioned above), they seek them out with a distinct human desire, as evidenced in the wheel’s colorful middle region. Carl Jung derived these archetypes from folk tales by observing universal characteristics and connecting them to people’s personalities and desires. For example, the Outlaw desires Liberation, the Wizard desires Belief, etc.


Like people, brands can have multiple personalities too. If you’re struggling with which archetype best suits the brand, remember one thing they embody universal human values, so it is okay to feel confused. Kaye Putnam suggests (in her youtube video) that when in doubt, pick a primary archetype and a secondary and then build upon that.


Once you’ve figured out your archetype, the next big question is, how do you incorporate this brand personality into your marketing content? Well, that’s a topic for another time. Stay tuned!

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