Brand Archetype: The key to connecting with your audience

8 minutes
Written by: Natalia De la Peña Frade
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Every time you make a purchase, you make a ton of decisions in a fraction of a second. Would you be able to say why you chose one brand of shampoo over another? Price can often be a determining factor, but not always.

Emotions have a great importance in the purchasing decisions we make subconsciously. You may think, how does buying shampoo affect my emotions? It’s not the shampoo that sways your emotions, but the brand behind it. The most popular brands are the ones that develop an emotional connection with their audience, and this is accomplished by defining a consistent brand personality.

There are several methods for defining a brand’s personality. Today we will talk about one of the most effective: brand archetypes.

What are brand archetypes?

It consists of applying the theory of archetypes proposed by psychologist Carl Jung. This theory explains human behaviors based on patterns of behavior that we inherit, which are part of the collective unconscious. Jung’s patterns or archetypes capture the most elementary human motivations, and determine our way of thinking and acting.

Jung defined 12 archetypes, each with associated values and behaviors. They are universal, that is, anyone can identify with them. All people present traits of various archetypes, but there is always one that dominates our personality. It is common for brands to define a primary and a secondary archetype when developing this strategy.

Applying the theory of archetypes makes it possible to give life to the brand and to give it a human personality – a credible and coherent personality. Otherwise, people would not trust or be drawn to the brand. Archetypes are the solution, as they are easily recognizable to all people and allow the market to be segmented. Thanks to their human personality, brands manage to connect emotionally with their target audience.

3 examples of brands that have defined their archetypes

The Volvo brand, which is easily identified with “safe car”, is a strong and authentic brand, partly because it has been applying best practices for employing a brand archetype for years.

The first car with a seat belt with three anchor points was Volvo. They have recently introduced electronic limiters in the cars they manufacture, which will no longer exceed 180 km/hour. They have even devised a system that allows different limitations to be established depending on which family member is driving the car. In their advertising messages they prioritize security, and they know how to convey the brand’s efforts in this regard very well.

Volvo uses the caretaker archetype, connecting with the vulnerability of human beings and our need for protection. The company’s decisions and advertising have gone in the same direction for many years. This makes the brand consistent and trustworthy, appearing in the minds of anyone who wants to buy a safe car.

The Mercedes brand, for its part, makes luxury vehicles. They prioritize quality and it is easy to identify ‘Mercedes’ with prestige and elegance. You even need to use the word ‘class’ to indicate which model a car from this brand is! No one looking for a cheap car would think of a Mercedes as their first option, would they?

Mercedes uses the archetype of the ruler in their branding, prosperous and enjoying quality. Thus, the brand connects with the need for control and stability, which people of this archetype obtain through leadership.

And now think about the Jeep brand. What does it make you think of? Something like adventure, freedom, and the search for new paths, right? It is the archetype of the explorer, which easily connects with those who seek new experiences and emotions.

Now that you are familiar with examples of how brands use this method to define their personality, let’s look at the 12 archetypes and the keys to using them in your marketing strategy.

What are Jung’s 12 archetypes?

Archetypes are classified into four groups according to their main motivation. Look for your brand’s motivation in this classification system to find which group it will fit best in.

  • Social motivation: They seek, above all, to connect with other people. The jester, the lover, and the citizen archetypes belong to this group.
  • Spiritual journey: Their motivation is independence and self-realization. This is the category of the innocent, the explorer, and the sage archetypes.
  • They want to leave a mark on the world: This is the main motivation of the outlaw, the magician, and the hero archetypes.
  • Their priority is order and structure: Archetypes which seek control and stability are the caregiver, the creator, and the ruler.

Social Motivation

🃏 The jester:

Was there a jokester in your class? It’s this archetype! Their aim is to have fun, to spread joy around the world, and to make others have fun. They stand out for their sense of humor and being somewhat mischievous. Brands that want to help people have fun, have a good time, or be more spontaneous can use this archetype to connect with their audience.

❤️ The lover:

The lover wants to create intimacy and inspire love. They are romantic, warm, passionate and sensual. If your product or service can help people feel appreciated, build relationships, and enjoy intimacy, this may be your archetype.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 The citizen:

Those who seek, first and foremost, to belong to a collective or a group, to connect with other people, fit this archetype. They are close and friendly, unpretentious. They are also solid, have their feet on the ground, and are a support in their community. If your brand has solid virtues or provides a sense of belonging, this archetype can be the basis of your storytelling.

In search of self-realization

😇 The innocent:

The innocent is pure and good, optimistic and loyal. Their goal is to be happy, and it is the archetype of reliable and honest brands, associated with morality and good virtues.

🤠 The explorer:

The explorer looks for new experiences, and wants to find fulfillment through discovery. They are adventurous, ambitious, independent and pioneering. It is the archetype of the brands that want to project adventure, authenticity, excitement…

👴 The sage:

The sage intends to help people be wiser, to expand their field of vision. A brand of this archetype will be a reliable source of information, capable of projecting wisdom and intelligence. Advisors and experts able to provide information that helps people better understand the world fit into this archetype.

They want to leave a mark on the world

😎 The outlaw:

The outlaw is rebellious, thinks that the rules were made to be broken, and fights against authority. The brands that use this archetype promote doing things differently and clearing the path for change.

🧙‍♂️ The magician:

Magicians are able to turn dreams into reality and create something special. They are charismatic, imaginative and spiritual. It is the archetype of brands that help people transform their reality, inspiring change.

🦸‍♂️ The hero:

This archetype seeks to help build a better world. Heroes are strong, courageous, reliable and outstanding. If your brand helps solve the world’s problems or inspires others to do so, it will fit into this archetype.

Their priority is control

🙋 The caregiver:

They aim to protect and care for people selflessly. They are associated with the maternal, and are generous and passionate. They connects with the need for protection that all human beings have.

🔱 The creator:

The creator wants, as his name suggests, to create something, but something that makes sense and that is lasting. They are inventive and artistic, enterprising and nonconformist. If your brand helps people create or encourages their imagination, it could fit into this archetype.

🏛️ The ruler:

The ruler seeks control and represents prosperity and success. They are stable, responsible and organized, connecting with leadership and stability.

How a brand archetype is built in practice

Choosing the archetype that you like best and defining the personality of your brand from there will not work. To successfully apply this theory, it is important to have a number of factors in mind.

To start creating a consistent brand, you need to define:

  1. The history of the brand
  2. Your value proposition
  3. The mission, vision and values of the brand
  4. The traits of its personality

If you’ve already created your style guide, you’ll have this information ready and it will be much easier for you to advance with the application of your brand archetype. With the guide you define the voice of your brand, and with the archetype you define its personality.

Connect with your target audience:

The next step will be to deepen your knowledge of your audience. What do they look for when they buy your product or service? What does it make them feel? What problem does it resolve? To find out, the key is to talk to them and your public service team.

It’s also important to consider how you’d like your brand to be perceived, the attributes you want to emphasize, and the values you want to convey in your message.

If you’re building your business and you don’t have this information yet, you need to find out what people who buy products or services like what you offer are looking for. You may need to do some market research.

Knowing people’s motivations to consume a product or service like yours will help you deepen your relationship with them and properly convey the value of your brand. Keep in mind that the benefits of consuming a product or service go beyond rational ones, and we make purchasing decisions subconsciously. The key is to know how to subtly communicate the protection, exclusivity or adventure that can be associated with your product or service.

Doing a little benchmarking always helps. Look for examples of brands that make good use of archetypes. Does your brand identify with any of them? What archetype do they use? How do they do it? Now think about your brand and how your customers interact with it to determine what the most compelling archetype will be for you.

Create an authentic brand

It’s important to know that honesty plays a key role in making the archetype method work. The brand must be authentic, we must look for the connection by communicating something we are able to deliver. It is not about inventing anything, but about communicating value, and avoiding creating false expectations.

The archetype goes far beyond the advertising message: It must be based on the brand’s nuclear values, and be consistent with its mission and history. Consistency is achieved by aligning the brand strategy with psychological factors, and strength is achieved by maintaining this over time.

Communicate your brand

Once you have selected the archetype that best fits your brand, the next step is to create the strategy to communicate it. The archetype is transmitted through storytelling, which will help you deepen your relationship with your target audience and enhance your connection with them.

The storytelling has to be consistent with all aspects of your business. For example, you can’t rely on the jester’s archetype by creating light, fun messages if your team is completely discouraged or suffering from excessive stress. The truth always ends up coming to light. For your storytelling to work, it has to be true: It’s essential to have the whole team.

In addition to the staff, your customers are natural brand ambassadors, and their participation is key to strengthening your storytelling. Their messages are always more credible than the brand talking about itself, and much more powerful to communicate your archetype. On the other hand, the work of communicating with your audience and creating deep ties never ends.

Which archetype uses your favorite brand? Do you know good examples of using brand archetypes? Share them in the comments!

Natalia De la Peña Frade
Natalia De la Peña Frade
Content creator: intento escribir cosas que te guste leer
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