Advertising has always used archetypal imagery to market products. After reading “The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes,” written by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, I’d like to discuss brand archetypes and how marketers can leverage archetypal meanings with brands.
Archetypal images represent fundamental human desires and evoke deep emotions. There are 12 archetypes, which symbolize basic human needs, aspirations or motivations. Brand archetypes are described as forms or images of a collective nature, which occur practically all over the earth as constituents of myths and at the same time as individual products of unconscious origin.
The Innocent’s motto is: Free to be you and me. The Innocent’s core desire is to get to paradise, with a goal to be happy. The Innocent’s greatest fear is to be punished for doing someone bad or wrong. Their weakness is that they are boring for all their naïve innocence, but they possess a talent for faith and optimism. Coca-Cola is a good example of a brand that possesses the innocent image. The Innocent archetype provides a good identity for brands that provide a relatively simple answer to an indefinable problem, are associated with goodness, morality, or childhood, or have functions associated with health, virtue, and cleanliness.
The Explorer’s motto is: Don’t fence me in. The Explorer’s desire is freedom to find out who they are through exploring the world. The goal is to experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life. The explorer is known as the seeker, wanderer, or individualist. The Explorer is a good identity for brands that help people feel free, is rugged and sturdy, can be purchased from a catalog or on the Internet, or helps people express their individuality. This brand seeks to differentiate itself from a successful Regular Guy/Gal or other more conformist brands. Explorer brands would be: Jeep, Marlboro or Virgin.
The Sage’s motto is: The truth will set you free. Their core desire is to find the truth and to use intelligence and analysis to understand the world. Their strategy is to seek out information and knowledge. Their talents lie in wisdom and intelligence. The Sage is known as the expert, scholar, detective, advisor, thinker and philosopher. Brands such as CNN and Gallup embody the Sage. The Sage would be a good identity for brands that provide expertise or information to customers, that encourage customers to think or are supported by research based facts.
The Regular Guy/Girl
The Regular Guy/Girl’s motto is: All men and women are created equal. Brands such as IKEA portray this archetype. The Regular Guy/Girl’s core desire is to connect with others and to belong. Their strategy is to develop ordinary solid virtues and to be down to earth. They are known as the good old boy, everyman, the person next door, the realist or good neighbor. This archetype provides a good identity for brands that give people a sense of belonging with an everyday functionality with low moderate process.
The Hero’s motto is: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Their core desire is to prove their worth through courageous acts of expert mastery in a way that improves the world. Their greatest fear is weakness. Their strategy is to be as strong and competent as possible. The hero is known as the warrior, crusader, rescuer or superhero. The hero could be good for brands that are innovators with a major impact on the world, are characterized as problem solvers, or have a clear component that can’t be beat. Nike is a great example of the Hero.
The Outlaw’s motto is: rules are made to be broken. Their core desire is revenge or revolution and to overturn what isn’t working. The Outlaw’s strategy is to disrupt, destroy or shock. The rebel, revolutionary, wild man, or the misfit is what the Outlaw is known as. The Outlaw may strengthen your brand’s identity if it has customers or employees who feel disenfranchised from society, is low to moderately priced, or breaks with industry conventions. Outlaw brands include Diesel and Harley Davidson.
The Magician’s motto is: I make things happen. Brands such as Axe, Smirnoff and the iPod embrace this archetype. The Magician’s core desire is to understand the fundamental laws of the universe and to make dreams come true. Brands are right to identify with the Magician if the product or service is transformative, new age, user-friendly or promises transformation to customers.
The Lover’s motto is: You’re the only one. Their core desire is intimacy and experience. Their goal is being in a relationship with people, work and surroundings they love. They are known as the partner, friend, intimate, spouse, enthusiast and sensualist. The Lover may be a good identity for your brand if it helps people belong, find friends or partners, while it’s function is to help people have a good time. Haagen-Dazs is a brand that embraces this archetype.
The Jester’s motto is: you only live once. Their core desire is to live in the moment with full enjoyment. Their goal is to have a great time and lighten up the world. Their strategy is to play, make jokes and be funny. The Jester is also known as the fool, trickster, joker, or comedian. 7 Up and Fanta are brand examples of the Jester. The Jester may be a good identity for brands that give people a sense of belonging, that help people have a good time, and are a fun loving company.
The Caregiver’s motto is: Love your neighbor as yourself. Their core desire is to protect, help and care for others. Their strategy is doing things for others. The caregiver is known as the saint, parent, helper, or supporter. A good example of the caregiver is Volvo. The Caregiver may be right for your brand identity if it gives customers a competitive advantage, serves the public sector, helps people care for themselves, or is associated with nurturing.
The Creator’s motto is: If you can imagine it, it can be done. Their core desire is to endure value and to realize a vision. Their strategy is to develop artistic control and skill. Their talents are creativity and imagination. They are known as the artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer or dreamer. Brands such as Sony and Lego embody this archetype. The Creator may be right for brands that promote self-expression, give customers choices and helps foster innovation or is artistic in design.
The Ruler’s motto is: Power isn’t everything – it’s the only thing. Their core desire is control. Their strategy is exercising power and creating prosperous, successful families or communities. Their talents are responsibility and leadership. The Ruler is known as the boss, the leader, king, queen or role manager. Mercedes and IBM are examples of ruling companies. The Ruler may be right for your brand identity if it is a high status product used by powerful people to enhance their power, if it makes people more organized, or if it empowers people to maintain or enhance their grip on power.
If companies choose to utilize brand archetypes for their brands, brands not only gain meaning, but can also gain market share and increase shareholder value.