One of the major tools of brand strategy is the development of Carl Jung’s (the psychologist) summary of the 12 personalities of humankind. Altered to fit the world of business today, the archetype theory fits right into the concept of brand being the combination of thoughts, experiences, and associations a human brain has towards a company - which in turn, preferably, create value for the firm.
In essence, it is our human brain, that decides what we think of a brand, and how we want to interact with it.
As business leaders evolve, markets become more competitive and move faster in every conceivable way, brands must become a liquid, ever-evolving part of this. Defining what type of brand you (or your products) are today, and where you want to go is an essential part of creating a future-proof business.
You may think that you know your brand. Congratulations, you are one of only 25% of employees/leaders worldwide that truly does. Knowing your brand means knowing what your key audiences, stakeholders, and in the end, customers think of it. And why they think that way about it. And it does not matter if you are Tesla or Apple or Joe’s Bar in southeast Milwaukee, if you have clients, you have people interacting with your brand.
So the starting point of any archetype exploration is to place your brand at the right part of the circle, based on how you are perceived today. By your most important audiences. This usually requires some sort of analysis or stakeholder audit. Don’t forget to check with your employees though. Remember the 25%.
Making this choice has many implications on how your business should be run, how your brand needs to act, and what strategic choices need to be made to make this work. You may be surprised how your brand is perceived today, and even more so when you decide to move your position in a different direction.
Archetypes help companies articulate their purpose and translate their efforts into aspirational milestones and actionable transformations.
Think about it, moving from being a challenger to being a hero demands a completely new set of principles, new direction, and certainly new ways of leading the brand. Your visual identity may need updating, your strategy redoing. Even your products may have to be developed or removed altogether to match this new direction.
Regardless, specifying and developing your archetype will engage your stakeholders, and will enable your brand to grow, establish new verticals, and take a position.
The archetypes can be used to define the different types of brands we can be, and are designed to match the way humans could be differentiated in terms of character, associations, and focus.
In turn, this means we can easily understand and place brands on the archetype circle - they simply represent all of humanity, which we have been around for a few decades.
Archetypes can be grouped into four overarching concepts: Freedom, Individualist, Care, and Order:
**Freedom **is reserved for the group of brands that are not to be supervised, that can freely do what they want and usually don’t need to follow the norms of society, branding, and communication. These brands are often perceived as playful, creative, and somewhat unpredictable.
Individualist brands are close to freedom brands but are even more focused on going their own way. Often innovators and leading players made their unpredictability into an asset of high speed development, innovation and resulting customer love.
**Order **brands are safe, predictable, and leading corporations often found on top of their industries with clear corporate principles and educational perspectives. They are benchmarks and are often used as examples of the trade. They are often challenged by individualist brands and are able to withstand the attacks simply due to the size and patience that comes with a legacy.
Social brands are the ones that truly want to create a fundamentally better way for customers, the planet, and products. Often heavily invested in sustainability and accessibility they are the ones that are loved by their audiences and will always try to combine good business with using their impact for the better.
A circle has no edges, and neither do the twelve groups. Brands flow freely in between the archetypes, and we will often see brands evolving from one to the other. Even moving far away from the original spot on the circle.
A rebel is breaking the rules. Never taking no for an answer, the rebel deliberately does things differently, sometimes on the very edge of society and norms, and breaks away from tradition in almost everything they do.
Challenger brands are close to the rebels but focus more on challenging how processes, products, and people usually do things. They create an alternative universe, often better, more efficient, and more intuitive than what we are used to. They often challenge legislation and general regulations.
Creators use existing assets, thoughts, and problems and turn them into opportunities. Extremely creative, they are visionary and very passionate about their mission of creating better solutions to known problems and processes. Not necessarily challenging existing solutions, but becoming a fierce competitor by creating better ones.
Everybody wants to be a hero. Moving on from being a challenger or creator, hero brands are the undisputed leaders of the space they command. Often challenging new markets with constantly creating new verticals they are risk-taking winners.
Magician brands are close to heros, but even more risk-taking and on a mission to change the status quo through constant, successful innovation. Changemakers at the core, they usually are never “too big to fail” and often define the market they are in. Magician brands are perceived as amongst the most creative as well. Example Magicians are Tesla, Spotify, and Disney
Your mentor is the one you trust. Educational and leading at the core, mentor brands are a benchmark for society and the market they are in. Usually very focused on development and research on top of owning a large part of the value chain, they are the voice of that category.
Regent brands are very close to mentors however less focused on the educational aspect of their being. They are often leading their industry by size and competence, and are predictable, trusted brands that often go back a few decades.
Innocent brands can’t do any harm, and they preferably want to prevent others from doing it. Truly preoccupied with the well-being of their customers, they come across as trusted, warm, and caring on all levels. Also very predictable and often high-quality.
The Everyman is there for everyone. They are interested in all of humanity and offer products and services that are accessible, diverse, and often high value for money. They will often have a wide range of products that fit a large market and own much of the value chain.
Closely related to the Innocent, the caretaker takes the well-being a step further. Very focused on sustainability, ethics, and an overall positive footprint, caretakers are the ones you turn to for inspiration in doing good and caring for society, clients, and the planet itself.
A magnetic brand that is very caring, passionate, and dreamy. Sometimes even idealistic but could also be highly commercial triggering warm emotions. You will find communication and products of these brands as very tailored to a specific emotion of their audience, making them feel better.
Joker brands are fun, spirited and usually lead their market not necessarily by size but by recognition. Often politically active, they tend to surprise and polarize, and with that, win their audiences.