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Core Branding

Archetypes in branding

As your brand takes many forms -across varied media, packaging, communication, etc. – having a consistent communication strategy is a must for shaping a distinct identity for your brand. Archetypes are a powerful tool here, as they immediately resonate across continents and cultures.
Archetypes in general are character structures found in real life and also repeatedly in mythical spaces, folklore, epics, comics, and even movies of today (from the Matrix to Shrek!). They instantly strike a chord and are hence believed to be implanted in our collective consciousness.Consumers can immediately identify brands that are built around such archetypes and have a deeper attachment to the positioning strategy adopted therein.

The Jungian Archetypes

While there are multiple versions of archetypes, the Jungian archetypes are the one which we are utilizing here. The Matrix consists of what motivates them (stability, belonging, impact, self) on one axis and the path they take (socialization, change, personal influence) on the other.

  • Stability – These archetypes desire for providing a structure to the world and feel safe when in control.
  • Belonging – They desire to feel belonged and valued by their groups.
  • Results – These archetypes work towards creating an impact to their world.
  • Identity – They are on a path of self-discovery, yearning towards finding purpose for them and the universe.

Similarly, the paths they take are characterized by their actions – Socialization (Locating power within their social systems), Change (yearning for change and freedom) and Re-stabilization (Exerting personal power within their world). You must remember that as people (and archetypes) pass through different stages of their lives, they evolve and could move across the matrix – eg. ‘Apple’ (and Steve Jobs) has moved through different archetypes – from an outlaw (early days, against IBM), to creator, to magician (Ipad, Iphone days) and back to creator (when seen in the long run).

Brand Archetypes - Identities and personalities

The Care Giver

  • The Call: Seeing someone in need
  • Core Desires: To protect, help and care for others.
  • Key levers: Compassion, Generosity, Being Self-less, Thoughtful, Kind, Nurture
  • Similar platforms: Saints, Parent, helper, supporter, servant
  • Personalities / Fictitious Characters: Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie
  • Strategy: Constantly show compassion / care / service to others (never yourself)
  • Right brand strategy if: (a) associated with nurturing, (b) supports families (c) public sector / aid programs / non profit / charity (d) helps people stay connected
  • Brand Examples: Amnesty International, Dove, Johnson & Johnson

BRand Archetypes - Caregiver - J&J printad BRand Archetypes - Caregiver - Dove Ad

The Regular Guy

  • The Call: Feeling lonely / seeing someone lonely
  • Core Desires: To connect with others, fitting / blending in for the sake of relationships, to belong
  • Key levers: Lack of pretense, realism, Trust, Warmth, Honesty, Friendly.
  • Similar platforms: Guy next door, common man, everyday citizen, silent majority
  • Personalities / Fictitious Characters: Ted Mosby (HIMYM), Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts
  • Strategy: Being down to earth, accessible, Display good virtues. Create real connections.
  • Right brand strategy if: (a) gives people a sense of belonging (b) low prices (c) regular functionality (d) there are only high priced / elite brands currently in market
  • Brand Examples: Wendy’s, Snapple, Wrangler, Ikea,

Brand archetypes - regular guy - wrangler 2 Brand archetypes - regular guy - Wrangler


The Warrior

  • The Call: The Challenge
  • Core Desires: To prove one’s worth through mastery and courage
  • Key levers: Courage, Competence, Arrogance, Strength, Loyalty, Immortality, Control, Obsession to win
  • Similar platforms: Superhero, soldier, crusader, gladiator
  • Personalities / Fictitious Characters: Neo, Achilles, Superman, Almost everyone in 300, .. other knights in shining armour
  • Strategy: Communication around – Doing your duty, Competence / mastery, leaving a mark in the world.
  • Right brand strategy if: (a) impactful innovations (b) underdogs / challengers (c) categories associated with ‘winning’ (d) helps people get through tough situations
  • Brand Examples: Nike, Tag Heuer, Ads for the armed forces, FedEx, sports teams

NEHQEVM10069_WCRobinho_48S_v2.indd BRand Archetypes - Warrior - Nike ad2


The Innocent

  • The Call: A deep desire for purity and goodness
  • Core Desires: To be happy and free
  • Key levers: Faith, Optimism, naive, friendly, predictable, A sense of oneness
  • Similar platforms: Paradise, Eden, Promised land, Utopian
  • Personalities / Fictitious Characters: Forrest Gump, Mary Poppins, Switzerland, Dorothy (wizard of oz)
  • Strategy: Always doing the right things, being positive, simplifying life
  • Right brand strategy if: (a) simple solutions (b) low / moderately priced products (c) associated with goodness, children, simplicity (d) Market has brands with poor reputations
  • Brand Examples: Coca Cola, Ivory Soap, Mc Donalds, Jolly Green Giant, Volkswagon

Brand Archetypes - innocent - Coca ColaBrand Archetypes - innocent - Coca Cola2Brand Archetypes - innocent - Green giantBrand Archetypes - innocent - Mc Donalds


The Explorer

  • The Call: To get a sense of inner peace / to find one’s-self
  • Core Desires: To find one’s self through exploring the world
  • Key levers: Restlessness, yearning for wholeness, experiences, towards a more fulfilling life
  • Similar platforms: Journeys, experiences, wanderers, escapists, Individualist, seeker,
  • Personalities / Fictitious Characters: Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Locke (Lost)
  • Strategy: Seeking and experiencing new things
  • Right brand strategy if: (a) helps people feel non-conformist /free / young (b) Categories involving outdoors (c) has explorer type source identity (d) E-commerce (e) provides new / exciting experiences (f) helps one show individuality
  • Brand Examples: Levis, Marlboro, Bounty, Jeep, Amazon, SUVs, Beauty products

Brand Archetypes - Explorer - LEvis 2 KV-H-OPEN ROOD


The Outlaw

  • The Call: Feeling powerless, mistreated, angry
  • Core Desires: To fly into the face of convention / Overturn what is not working
  • Key levers: Rebellion, Revenge, Disrupt, Destroy
  • Similar platforms: Misfits, Iconoclasts, Rebels, Revolutionaries
  • Personalities / Fictitious Characters: Indiana Jones, Che Guvera, The Joker, Robin Hood,
  • Strategy: Identify self as ‘the outsider’, Disrupt, Destroy conventions
  • Right brand strategy if: (a) is unconventional / revolutionary in the industry (b) Customers identify themselves as disenfranchised (c) revolutionary attitude (d) retains value threatened by emerging / easy technology (e) has ‘shock’ value
  • Brand Examples: Harley Davidson, Apple (early days), Diesel, MTv

BRand Archetypes - Outlaw - Harley Davidson ad BRand Archetypes - Outlaw - Harley Davidson ad2




More on the other archetypes in part 2 here. 




  1. Pingback: Understanding Memory – towards Total brand Recall | brand manager guide - December 28, 2014

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