How can Brand Archetypes be a powerful tool for your business?




The most fascinating thing for me about branding is its deep connect with human psychology. At its core, it is so so human! It is so much about feelings, emotions, and play of the subconscious mind.

The concept of Brand Archetypes was developed by psychologist Carl Jung. This is what I would say if asked about my understanding of Brand Archetypes.

This tool says that human behaviour, regardless of culture, demographics, age groups and at the very basic level largely follows certain patterns. It means, every person behaves in a certain way and subconsciously our mind identifies them as a specific personality. When we talk to someone, be with them, see them behave in social settings, we start identifying them with certain ‘typical’ characteristics. Further, it’s interesting to note that Carl studied these patterns and put them into 12 buckets. It means, every person will belong to one of these buckets, which will be their identity and the strongest element of their personality.

I think this is spooky and interesting at the same time.

My one liner explanation to all these 12 traits would be: Sage - You are the intelligent, knowledgeable one. Explorer - You are like a free bird! Hero - You are the warrior, you motivate others to take that journey to victory! Magician - You are a visionary, you have the power to make them believe. Outlaw - The rebel. Jester - A relationship keeper, you admire the finer things in life, with absolute fun attached, of course. Everyman - You are the girl/guy next door, friendly, caring, always there. Caregiver - You can shower warmth like no one else. Ruler - You are successful, you have the power. Creator - Your imagination is your superpower. Innocent - Simple, calm, honest.

This theory has been used extensively for storytelling and in movies. Hence, at the very core, the characters will have distinct personalities, only their presentation will be left for the creative minds to play around with, to ensure that the given personality comes out clearly and distinctly, without falling into the trap of being in too many personality buckets.

Well, it basically means that if the villain in the story will keep jumping from being a rebel to a hero to sometimes motherly, all you will say is, “What is going on!!!?”

Now, why should a business care about these? The shortest, simplest answer would be to make your brand unique, human-like, and relatable to your consumer, your people. And why does this matter? Remember, people connect with people. We are all emotional beings. So if your brand can become a ‘person that your consumers love’, well then, we can say it could be a long-lasting relationship and a happy marriage.

Now if I were to use this tool to identify the key personality traits for your brand, I would do a deep dive into understanding your brand as a person. How does this person behave?, What are his likes and dislikes? What is he like in a social setting? What are his favourite movies? What kind of decisions has he taken in life? What is his family like? Does it have any siblings? And so on. For me, the real aha moment comes from being able to really really think of your brand as a human.

Once these are understood in depth, patterns will come up! These patterns will start pointing towards distinct personality traits. Remember how we spoke about seeing a villain in a movie and subconsciously developing a preconceived notion about him. Based on these patterns, some archetypes will become more prominent than others, to further narrowing down into one or two key traits!

And these are nothing but really the traits on which you should frame your brand to develop a ‘relationship’ with your customer. It means, your brand should look, talk, walk (ok, I went too human, but that’s the beauty of it all) to let that personality shine out. For example, in a movie, you will be able to see the mystery, conspiracy, evilness in the eyes of the villain. These are nothing but the tangible things that are adding up to his personality. Similarly, the tangibles of your brand, like the logo, the messaging, the marketing collaterals must be all in sync.

A clearly defined personality that your consumer can easily understand will also help you attract the right kind of consumers, who will love your brand and embrace it fully.

Now the flip side of not being clear enough about these or trying to jump archetypes to appeal to everyone is actually highly detrimental to your business as it can leave your customers confused. They won’t trust you and you will never be able to develop that ‘relationship’, that actually makes a difference. Your brand will be ‘just a product’ and not something that your consumer is ‘emotionally drawn too’. And needless to say, that when we are emotionally drawn to someone, we get a little irrational, we look upto them, we do everything to support them, we care for them. And when a business achieves this for its product, we can say ‘it’s brand has arrived and how!’

It’s powerful. Written by, Radhika Nathany,

Brand Strategist/CEO,

Laughing Popcorn

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