What’s Your Brand Archetype?

Brent Closs—AVP Marketing, CAA Club Group

When you think of big brands like Apple, Google and Walmart, each probably evokes a reaction, even sub-consciously. Why is this?

Large, successful brands know that their value, success and sustainability depend on how they’re perceived. They’ve established what they want consumers to feel about their brand by identifying and living their Brand Archetype.

What Exactly is a Brand Archetype?

By definition, an archetype is a familiar characteristic that stands the test of time. It’s a theory based on two ideas. The first is that in every story there are only twelve character types; the second is that people describe companies like they do characters. Companies can draw from those same characters to create a consistent personality for their organization. By identifying one character that aligns with your brand, everyone in your organization can picture the kind of person your brand would be and deliver on that characteristic in everything they do. What large brands all have in common is consistently identifying with one archetype. Brands that personify more than one or change their character from time to time aren’t as successful—people can’t determine how to feel about their company or product.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

Initially made popular by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson’s book The Hero and the Outlaw, here are the twelve brand archetypes and popular brands that identify with each:

Innocent – Dove
Sage – Google
Explorer – Jeep
Everyperson – Costco
Outlaw – Harley Davidson
Magician – Disney
Hero – Nike
Lover – Hallmark
Jester – Old Spice
Caregiver – The Salvation Army
Ruler – Rolex
Creator – Lego

Why They Matter

According to The Hero and the Outlaw: “Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey meaning that make customers relate to a product as if it were alive in some way.” Large successful brands have determined their archetype based on their values and what they want to mean to consumers, and they live and breathe by that archetype in everything they do.

Exploring Archetypes

To understand what each represents, here are a few examples:

Their motto is Free to be you and me. Their promise is that life doesn’t have to be hard; keep it simple. Dove is an example of the Innocent archetype—their skincare products are created with natural ingredients and the women they portray are real and honest.

Sages live by the motto The truth will set you free. The seeker of knowledge and wisdom, sage is an analyst who shares their findings with the rest of the world. Google is a prime example of this archetype—the biggest online encyclopedia that provides their audience the answers they’re looking for.

You only get one life, make it count is the motto of Explorers. They live for the joy of discovery. When you think of exploring, Jeep comes to mind—they represent travelling off the beaten path and the feeling of adventure.

Commonly referred to as the Everyman, this archetype’s motto is Everyone is created equal. They’re honest and authentic, a trusted friend and good neighbour. Costco is a great example—they offer quality products at affordable prices and they care about their customer experiences, as demonstrated by their no-hassle return policy.

Out of these first four brand archetypes, which do you think CAA Insurance identifies with? If you guessed the Everyperson, that’s correct—not only from a customer standpoint, but in how we conduct business with our broker partners. Stay tuned for our next Marketing Minute where we’ll dive into the other Brand Archetypes.

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