"Where there's a will, there's a way."
What is a Brand Archetype(s)?
Categories of brands that share specific, universally recognizable personality traits, attitudes, and behaviours. These archetypes are drawn from influential psychiatrist Carl Jung's theory that humans use symbolism to understand more significant concepts.
Twelve Jungian archetypes of brands: The Innocent, The Everyman, The Hero, The Rebel, The Explorer, The Creator, The Ruler, The Magician, The Lover, The Caregiver, The Jester and The Sage. Definition by brands by Ovo.
Identification with and archetype allows brands to foster a deeper connection and understanding with their target audience. These archetypes can then be used to align the Brand with specific customer personas and focus marketing teams' efforts.
Carl Jung is a psychiatrist, philosopher, thinker, and innovative teacher of how the conscious and subconscious mind work. He published a large number of books exploring self-understanding and realization. The Jungian analysis is one methodology to access and reveal unconscious information into awareness. The Jungian analysis aims to facilitate a lasting psychic change that results in better relationships, the experience of meaning and spiritual fulfilment.
Jung's theory of Individuation, -the inner process of self-realization- describes a lifelong process through which a person becomes his or her true self by seeking wholeness -- not perfection.
His research and experimentations on the archetype(s) have enabled a large number of fields to master and use personality traits for individual and business growth. Beyond that, it is a quest to self-understanding from the ''who'' to ''what is the next revelation'' for wholeness.
Through a set of research, I stumbled upon the concept of "Brand archetype". A collection of personality traits that helps a brand align its core message and value proposition.
Knowing which kind of Brand you are is key in defining how you will create content and in which direction you will amplify your efforts. Branding is an exciting process; it is an aftermath feeling of what you perceive of personal and company brands.
Can we define a brand and its key traits so well that we can portray a character and archetype? In such cases, it will give us a blueprint of assets and language we can use and reuse to amplify our Brand voice.
Human behaviours, understanding, and betterment are the ideas behind this concept by Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung. I find it profoundly revealing how the self relates to perception and reactions to a brand. We have a set of traits that define a character; with each character, we have a tone and positioning, setting a standard and possibly a foundation for a way of living and building relationships and a community.
There lies a process of quest that each Brand goes through—some Brands, without knowing which archetype they are, create content and speak their story within a specific character. Archetypes in Branding are not a new idea, but it has been popularized and leveraged in Marketing to a great extent.It all revolves around knowing who you are as a brand, your audience, and how you are perceived.
The essence of knowledge is key in Branding.
I don't believe there is a formula for Branding; this series of articles is here to share the many ways to Brand. Branding and being a Human are intricate; no surprise, psychology is pivotal in growing a cutting-edge Brand.
If you know your character, you can act upon it and disrupt it if needed. The leading role tells you the story of how, what, who, when, and so on.
Defining what you stand for and what you do not want allows you to own your place with more ease and courage. Bravery is the word, an archetype understanding demands courage to face the results and they may differ from what you expected them to be.
I have always been an advocate of the Manifesto because it has a deep impact on how you perceive your brand and yourself. By starting with you, with your ‘WHY’ you can seize how you want to evolve and grow and therefore how you want to speak and own your place.
The Archetype helps you to own your character better, with understanding, truth, and daringness to stand for your ideas and vision. In acknowledging and owning your archetype lies a lot of power, today I believe it is as foundational as the Manifesto. It is the next step, the tool to ''see'' your vision embodied and it results in relief. ''You see it, you can build it''.
What makes you hooked by a story? Which angle gets you excited and tickled? You must relate to something in the story, and the character will be the magic link.
When you tell your story as a brand, no matter how crafted your "How I got here" story sounds, it will make people intrigued and emotional by how deeply they feel connected to what you say and believe in. Therefore being aware of your archetype may explain many things and help you take the lead more by asserting those traits in all your communication mediums.
Knowing a tool doesn't erase the need to be vulnerable. No character is perfect, and indeed, no Brand or Branding is perfect. Awareness of an archetype should not be mechanical but a validation of what your Manifesto already stated in a more detailed way.
Within each archetype lies contrasts and paradoxes, but that's what makes a Brand interesting even if most brands enhance the more shimmering traits. Behind the scenes, the process is full of stretching.
You now have to decide what 'image' you want for your Brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace. – David Ogilvy
I followed the brand expert Kaye Putman's test and discovered that I was a "Hero" archetype in utter surprise.
I never imagined that I could be a "Hero" archetype; I always considered myself a creative and creator primarily. How surprised by the results, I was from doing the test several times, I reconsidered and unlocked new keys to what my personal Brand said of me.
Without knowing the 12 archetypes, I thought I would revolve around a creative archetype, but surprisingly enough; ''the Hero'' trait is the One.
A hero takes the lead and leads by example. A hero or a heroine shares the knowledge needed to unlock a key. How can a Brand be a hero in its field of expertise? I discussed this a few days ago with the founder of the renowned design agency Base_design; he shared his vision of designing for brands to create impact as a goal. It had shed light on a rule: specializing in not specializing.
I related to the principle of not specializing; as a designer, you tend to be able to work for everyone and bring your creative force into any field, which is an exciting challenge. In that sense, you are up for the challenge and are prepared for the confrontation of ideas practising methodology.
Whatever the field and context, a hero brand can be innovative and fresh. Daringness has no boundaries and that is the fuel of such iconic brands. I also believe for a personality trait, context does reveal that character, some Brands reveal themselves in momentum in various amount of targeted topics but their core ''voice'' stay the same.
With such an archetype time, patience, resilience and momentum are keywords.
I also wondered if it was possible as a Brand to lead and speak from 2 archetypes. There are so many shades to our personalities as complex and multiple as we are, that being able to explore several traits as a Brand could result in a more incarnated Brand presence.
The power of engaging your content from your Manifesto to your Brand archetype is the intensity of your actions.
As your Branding grows and evolves, your character will do the same. At some point in the establishment of your Brand, you will reach mastery of your Branding voice and therefore be able to create experiences that allow you to navigate from Hero to creator or Magician.
Great Brands stick to one archetype firmly, but within that lane, through projects, initiatives and speaking on certain impactful topics, they can create surprise and enlarge the Brand perception by positioning themselves ‘’out of character’’.
These are stepping stones to engage and propel the Brand's mission as it grows; iconic Brands like Disney have leadership as magicians and educate and tackle contemporary topics using the sage effect as an overarching trait.
The Manifesto creates the foundation for your Branding; the archetype is a tool to expand and embody those values. Once you know where you and your audience stand, you can craft how you communicate and grow a tone of voice or positioning on specific topics.
A hero that takes the lead on projects like the Brand Nike, doesn’t only master greatness but breathes and educates greatness. Brenden Kumarasami shared on this topic about the character of a personal brand on the first Brand Hero. You can dive into it here.
The Hero explores new territories, creating program collaborations. Investing in inclusion and diversity policies within the company. The Hero inspires, we all respect and feel uplifted by a Brand that owns its mission and transmission with genuine uniqueness. Inspiring one person is inspiring millions as a ripple effect. The hero archetype as a DNA has a human trait for self-transformation to better the collective.
The key takeaway for me is how our personality as individuals also applies to Brands. This is one key ingredient to Branding that converts: there is a bond and craftsmanship of character.
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👉 Next time, we will discover and learn from another impressive brand hero.
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