Part 1: Brand Archetypes: Building a Brand with Personality
Some brands are able to connect with their audience so naturally that it seems almost effortless. They have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that’s tricky to put your finger on.
Is it their amazing ad copy or impressive brand identity design? What is it about those brands that make it feel as though we know them as if we’re part of the same family?
Those are the brands that have embraced their brand archetype.
Understanding your archetype helps you create a unique brand voice that resonates with your audience in a meaningful way, causing that easy, natural attraction.
What Is a Brand Archetype, Exactly?
There are 12 brand archetypes, each corresponding to a particular set of recognizable traits that are used to understand, personify, and communicate your brand to your audience.
Originally coined by Carl Jung in the early 1900s, Jung believed that humans tend to use symbolism to understand their world. He introduced the archetypal concept that our unconscious actions and thoughts are heavily influenced by age-old stories and the personalities and behaviours of certain characters.
When we get swept up in one of those stories, they resonate like nothing else. They tap into our understanding of ourselves and the world around us - ideas, values, journeys, and characters that exist across the globe as part of our collective consciousness.
Whether that story is a lover’s amorous pursuit, a hero’s epic expedition, or a caregiver’s tender healing, they align with certain archetypes that we instinctively understand.
Think of Baby from Dirty Dancing, for example. She perfectly encapsulates the Lover archetype with her innocence, idealism, and her belief in true love. These elements of her character dictate her actions, and they’re the reason that her story pulls on the audience’s heartstrings.
To understand your own brand’s archetype, it’s helpful to personify your brand and think of it as a character. Recognizing and leaning into your brand archetype allows you to instill a sense of humanity into your brand’s mission, vision, and values, effectively zeroing in on your brand’s authentic truth and magnetically attracting your prospective customers through your unique brand voice.
The Benefits of Understanding Your Brand’s Archetype
Whether or not you’ve encountered the concept before, we all instinctively understand these common archetypes.
Have you ever seen The Breakfast Club? Each character is distinct, representing a unique archetype. The brain represents the Sage, while the criminal is the Outlaw. The princess shows us the Lover archetype and the jock encapsulates the Hero.
These archetypal characters can be seen everywhere, from theatre to literature to film. Keep your eye out, and you’re sure to find archetypes in all your favourite media.
As a brand, there’s a lot to gain by adopting a particular archetype and infusing that essence into all that you do.
1. Differentiate Yourself:
Knowing your brand archetype enables you to lean into that mould (in your own way, of course) and present yourself to stand out from the crowd. By understanding your brand’s personality you can better anticipate your audience’s needs, wants, and values which ultimately creates more persuasive branding.
However, adopting an archetype doesn’t mean that you blend in - in fact, it’s the opposite!
If you look around at your competition and notice that they largely represent the Explorer archetype, you don’t have to follow suit. By choosing to instead encapsulate the Magician or the Outlaw archetype, for example, you set yourself apart from the pack and leave a lasting, impactful impression on your audience.
2. Build Emotional Connections:
To thrive in today’s marketing landscape, it’s not enough for brands to merely communicate what their services or products provide. Brands must develop an emotional connection with their consumers to encourage brand loyalty.
Believe it or not, rationality is not the name of the game when it comes to choosing our favourite brands - 95% of us make decisions about brands subconsciously. Essentially, your affinity for certain companies over others stems from your perception of their brand.
On a deeper level, it is contingent upon the archetype or the personality that the brand depicts. Notably, 86% of people are also likely to promote their favourite brands to friends and family. This is how emotional connections between brands and their audience strengthen over time and are even passed down from generation to generation.
‘’Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand.” — From the book; The Hero and the Outlaw
Let’s dive a bit deeper.
When you think of a magician, what comes to mind? Likely someone you can snap their fingers and achieve the impossible, create something exceptional, and make dreams come true in the blink of an eye. Now, what if you apply those characteristics to a brand?
Disney is the perfect example of a brand that exudes the Magician archetype. They’re imaginative, innovative, and passionate. They think outside the box and instill a sense of wonder in their audience through their inventiveness and charisma. In doing so, they build a strong emotional connection with that audience and win not only their affection but their loyalty.
Leaning into your archetype helps to forge those connections and resonate in a powerful way, but it doesn’t mean that you blend in amongst the competition. By adopting a brand archetype that differentiates your business from the others in your industry, you can make a powerful impression and stand out from the crowd.
Does your brand make the most impact on your audience? Dive deeper into the 12 brand archetypes to discover your brand personality and infuse your own brand with a charisma that can’t be ignored.