Every successful brand is unique in its appearance and presentation. As a result, it is easy to tell it apart from the rest. A successful brand also has a personality, and this must resonate with its target market and audience. It is therefore imperative that a brand develops a unique identity in order to have a ‘presence’ that cannot be ignored.

Developing a brand is not something you can do at the snap of a finger. It takes time, dedication and a budget. You must understand what your brand is about and for whom it is intended. That is what marketers would call an archetype.

What is an Archetype?

Many business owners will ask, “What are archetypes?” Archetype is defined as an “original model or type after which other similar things are patterned”. Jungian psychology describes it as “an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic image that is derived from the past collective experience of humanity”.  Plato believed that as long as something has a physical manifestation, it must have come from some archetype.

Understanding Archetypes in Branding

  • In branding, archetypes are important in the sense that they give the brand a storyline. This helps in getting the attention of your target customers and establishing a relationship with them.
  • It is also a surefire way to create a brand that stands out from the myriad of products in the market. You can create a brand that will be as unforgettable as Lord Voldemort is in show business.
  • Archetypes help to create connections, and people or rather customers want to be associated with brands that are on everyone’s lips.
  • Archetypes remain constant over a long period of time and represent ideas that the customer can relate to.
  • Brands inspire the customer to greater things that are even outside of the brand. Brands which are associated with legends and heroes in the society are likely to sell out fast because customers want to associate themselves with those individuals. They also want to feel that they can scale the same heights.

Understanding archetypes and their relevance in branding can lead business people into gaining perspective into what makes for a great brand that will stand the test of time. Brands that are in sync with the customer’s thoughts, feelings and aspirations are likely to fly off the shelves as soon as they are launched.

Archetypes matter for the following reasons:

Archetypes are connected to the aspirations of most consumers as they pitch their sales on values that customers can relate to. The following points show why archetypes and business goals go hand in hand:

  • They Support the Need to be Unique

Archetypes allow you to bring out the special qualities in your brand that make it stand out from the rest. This is especially crucial if your brand is not the only one of its kind. You have to be in a position to have an edge over the competition. Who are the people that shape your brand? What places and ideas make your brand unique? Archetypes will have you going back to your brand's roots to get to the bottom of the reasons you created it to begin with.

  • Archetypes Help Create Relationships with Consumers

They tap into the customer’s desires and values. When a brand is able to strike a chord with consumers' expectations, then it is likely to enjoy a significant measure of success. Therefore, a brand must seek to inspire trust in the consumer such that they will be loyal to the brand. 

  • Archetypes Are Custom made to Fulfill the Consumer’s Desires

If you listen to most sales pitches, you will realize that most products aim to satisfy the customer's desires. They insinuate that the brand they are introducing to the customer is what they have been searching for their entire life. They claim to be able to provide the solutions that the customer needs. Whatever it is that the customer has been yearning for is to be found in that one brand. That is the miracle of archetypes. It helps the consumer to view your brand in a completely new light and to desire to be a part of it.

Jung believed that standing behind our individual personal unconscious, which is unique to each of us, “there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal and impersonal nature that is identical in all individuals”. (The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 43). When someone mentions a warrior, for example, we easily conjure an image of what this means. A warrior has courage and discipline, can focus on goals and aims to win. The Warrior is seen as an archetype in a Jungian framework. We all have this energy in us, at least as latent potential.

Types of Brand Archetypes

In order to create a successful brand, you must understand the type of archetype you want to use. It must not only be unique and constant, but also something that your target customers find relatable. There are twelve archetypes that most brands choose. These are:

  • The hero: it leaves the customer feeling strong and invincible.
  • The magician: it has that aspect of mystery and transformation that many long for.
  • The rebel: this one does not conform and is risqué.
  • The explorer: they are outgoing and have a sense of adventure.
  • The sage: this archetype is brilliant, dependable and trustworthy.
  • The innocent: this one exudes happiness and a carefree outlook on life.
  • The creator: artistic and innovative.
  • The ruler: this brand beats a path for others to follow. It is usually a luxury-based brand.
  • The caregiver: caring, nurturing and heroic.
  • The everyman: everybody’s friend as it embodies warmth and friendliness.
  • The jester: hilarious and fun. This brand is mostly entertaining.
  • The lover: this brand seeks to unite people through sharing.

The key to a successful brand lies in your ability to discover an archetype that works for your brand, and that your customers consider essential for their continued wellbeing. Therefore, a lot of work and resources should be directed towards finding the perfect archetype for your brand.