The concept of creating Brand Archetypes is built on the premise that humans have one dominant trait that determines typical behavior patterns, values, motivations and desires. If the role of marketing is to reduce the friction between what businesses have to sell and what customers want to buy; the ideal end goal for any marketer would be to build brands that attract a crazy fan following (i.e. Fan-o-cracy) or even Cult Followers.
For consumers to better identify with businesses and their brands, identifying common goals enhances these exchanges, moving them from mere transactions to relationships. If your logo is how your brand looks, your messaging is what your brand says, and your tone of voice is how your brand says it, archetype is the heartbeat of your brand. Developing a clearly-defined archetype for your brand that reflects in every aspect of the brand strategy and brand identity (i.e. messaging, tone of voice and visual design) could become the difference between millions of dollars in sales and absolute obscurity.
When you are a consumer, look at the brand you consume, the brand you prefer or naturally gravitate to; there is something about these that makes them preferred. What this affinity is, can sometimes be difficult to put your finger on. Why do you like them? Why you bring them into your homes? Why do you give them to friends and family? Why do you remain loyal? Is it only because the product tastes great or the packaging is attractive or the ad copy was clever? What is it that makes the brand ‘human’; that helps you as a consumer create a strong emotional bond with the brand? The answer has a lot to do with the Brand Archetype.
The 12 types of Archetypes
Goal: To be happy
Traits: Strives to be good, is pure, young, optimistic, simple, moral, romantic, loyal
Drawback: Could be naïve or boring
Marketing niche: Companies with strong values, seen as trustworthy, reliable and honest, associated with morality, good virtues, simplicity, can be nostalgic. Best suited for brands in Beauty, Skin Care, Fresh Foods.
Brand Example: Dove soap, Coca-Cola, Cottonelle bathroom tissue
Movie Character: Tom Hanks from Forrest Gump
Goal: To help the world gain wisdom and insight
Traits: Knowledgeable, trusted source of information, wisdom and intelligence, thoughtful, analytical, mentor, guru, advisor
Drawback: Could be overly contemplative or too opinionated
Marketing Niche: Help people to better understand the world; provide practical information and analysis. Best suited for News Networks, Schools, Consultancies
Brand Example: CNN, BBC, PBS, Google, Philips
Movie Character: Yoda from Star Wars
Goal: Finds fulfillment through discovery and new experiences
Traits: Restless, adventurous, ambitious, individualistic, independent, pioneering
Drawback: Might not fit into the mainstream
Marketing Niche: Exciting, risk-taking, authentic. Best suited from Auto SUV Brands, Outdoor Equipment, Adventure Travel
Brand Example: Jeep, Red Bull, The Body Shop
Movie Character: Harrison Ford from Indiana Jones
Goal: Break the rules and fight authority
Traits: Rebellious, iconoclastic, wild, paving the way for change
Drawback: Could take it too far and be seen in a negative way
Marketing Niche: Agent of change, advocate for the disenfranchised, allows people to vent or break with conventions. Best suited for Auto/ Motor Brands, Construction, Body Art.
Brand Example: Harley-Davidson, Virgin, Diesel
Movie Character: Antonio Banderas from Zorro
Goal: Make dreams come true, create something special
Traits: Visionary, charismatic, imaginative, idealistic, spiritual
Drawback: Could take risks that lead to bad outcomes
Marketing Niche: Help people transform their world, inspire change, expand consciousness. Best suited for Brands in Entertainment, Beauty, Health
Brand Example: Disney, Wizard of Oz, Apple, Energizer Bunny
Movie Character: Gandalf from Lord of the Rings
Goal: Help to improve the world
Traits: Courageous, bold, honorable, strong, confident, inspirational
Drawback: Could be arrogant or aloof
Marketing Niche: Make a positive mark on the world, solve major problems or enable/ inspire others to do so. Best suited for Brands in Sports, Outdoors, Equipment.
Brand Example: Adidas, FedEx. Nike, BMW, Duracell
Movie Character: Russell Crowe from Gladiator
Goal: Create intimacy, inspire love
Traits: Passionate, sensual, intimate, romantic, warm, committed, idealistic
Drawback: Could be too selfless or not grounded enough
Marketing Niche: Help people feel appreciated, belong, connect, enjoy intimacy, build relationships. Best suited for Brands in Cosmetics, Jewellery, Fashion
Brand Example: Chanel, Alfa Romeo, Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolate, Marie Claire
Movie Character: Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot
Goal: To bring joy to the world
Traits: Fun, sense of humor, light-hearted, mischievous, irreverent
Drawback: Could be seen as frivolous or disrespectful
Marketing Niche: Help people have a good time or enjoy what they are doing, allow people to be more impulsive and spontaneous. Best suited for Brands in Confectionery, Child Entertainment, Beer Brands
Brand Example: M&M, Old Spice, Motley Fool, Ben & Jerry’s,
Movie Character: Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura
THE EVERYMAN/ EVERYWOMAN
Goal: To belong, or connect with others
Traits: Down-to-earth, supportive, faithful, folksy, person-next-door, connects with others
Drawback: Could lack a distinctive identity and blend in too much
Marketing Niche: Common touch, solid virtues, gives a sense of belonging. Best suited for Brands in Home/ Family, Everyday Apparel, Family Auto
Brand Example: McCain, Target, Home Depot, eBay, Levi, IKEA
Movie Character: Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness
Goal: To care for and protect others
Traits: Caring, maternal, nurturing, selfless, generous, compassionate
Drawback: Being taken advantage of, taken for granted, or exploited
Marketing Niche: Help people care for themselves, serve the public through health care, education or aid programmes. Best suited for Brands in Healthcare, Non Profit, Education
Brand Example: Campbell’s Soup, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz, Unicef
Movie Character: Robin Williams in Patch Adams
Goal: Control, create order from chaos
Traits: Leader, responsible, organised, role model, administrator
Drawback: Could lack a common connection, or be too authoritative or controlling
Marketing Niche: Help people become more organized, restore order, create more stability and security in a chaotic world. Best suited for Brands in Luxury Cars, Watches, Upscale Hotels
Brand Example: Microsoft, Barclays, Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton, Rolex
Movie Character: Don Corleone in The God Father
Goal: Create something with meaning and enduring value
Traits: Creative, imaginative, artistic, inventive, entrepreneur, non-conformist
Drawback: Could be perfectionistic or impractical
Marketing Niche: Visionary, help customers express or create, and foster their imagination. Best suited for Brands in Art/ Design, Technology, Marketing
Brand Example: Lego, Crayola, Adobe, Apple
Personality Reference: Pablo Picasso
The 4 Stages of Identifying Your Ideal Brand Archetype
1. Understanding your ideal customer’s desire
Who is your ideal customer?, What is their painpoint?, Why would they seek out your brands product/ solution?
2. Identifying your Brand Personality positioning
Which archetype fulfills your ideal customer’s core desire best?
3. Validating the right Archetype Mix
It is likely that your ideal customer falls into more than 1 archetype (i.e. 90% Everyman Guy, 10% Outlaw). In these scenarios it is possible for the brand to straddle both by ensuring that the Everyman Guy has a little bit of edginess. The goal however is not be everything to everybody. Remember if you try to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one.
4. Create a POV for your brand
Giving your brand its unique point of view, in the way it articulates and communicates with its audience, will not only bring your brand to life but give it a personality with its own opinions, attitudes, aspirations, beliefs, etc.
Conclusion: Archetypes are rooted in universal truths that are rich and distinctive. The goal of Brand Archetyping is to humanize the brand; to create a character that prospective customers can identify with, feel a connection, build loyalty, differentiate from the crowd and even in some cases fall in love with. Creating an apologetic, limp brand will only guarantee that your brand gets ignored. To create and sustain marketing effectiveness requires building a brand that demands attention and has a charismatic personality. Prospect consumers that feel a deeper connection with your brand are 10X more likely to stay loyal and promote advocacy.
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