Why is Defining Brand Archetype the Heart of Your Brand Strategy?

January 27, 2021

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Do you remember the last sneakers you bought for yourself? Was it the color that made you spend the money? Or was it the cool logo that you love so much? Let me tell you the truth – it was the strong brand archetype that corresponds with your values, language, and beliefs.

You will never see a description of any brand archetype on the billboards that you pass by. However, the image and the text that say so much to you, that inspire you and make you hit the HEART on your social profile are actually a result of a consistent brand strategy.

Type of brands

The world is full of products, services, personas… and each of them has a brand that makes it stand alone. The market needs the difference. Moreover, our brains are programmed to detect something stunning that stands from the crowd.

Basically, the brands can be divided into 3 categories:

Products brands

It is maybe the largest category. From products that content our physical needs to products that are quite prestigious to possess. All of those products can be spread in the different levels of the Maslow’s pyramid, illustrating the hierarchy of needs. (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.) Needs from the bottom of the pyramid should be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Depending on the products’ place on that need hierarchy – comes the different communication strategy for each brand. Moreover, the brand personality should ideally correspond totally to the need and the audience themselves.

Services brands

Another category of brands are the services. Service brands are characterized by the need to maintain a consistently high level of service delivery. The companies for services aim at offering complex solutions and tend to close the production cycle internally.

Service brands may include airlines, hotels, banks,retail brands, different agencies – ex. travel, party, marketing, consultancy, etc.

A key part of the brand strategy is again – defining the brand personality and sticking to the relevant messages for the audience.

Personal brands

Sometimes this term overlaps with the service brand. Or it can be created for a geographical place, event, etc. Personal brands may arise from a product or from a service. Usually, it concentrates the service provided into a single source – ex. a team leader. The key here is the added value. The personal brand develops from the service that one is offering and the job – so precisely well done, that implies an oreol around its creator. Remember Paul Rand?

Whatever the type of your brand is – it should be strong to survive and aim to add extra value to your clients.

What does a strong brand strategy include?

The brand strategy is an obligatory element not only for new-born brands but also for the ones that need to revise their presence or adjust the messages and the general direction. And yes, a decent brand strategy will cost you a decent amount of money. The reason? Usually it is a one-time effort or at least a good strategy will serve you for a really long time. And you don’t want to fall from the start, right?! The elements of a brand strategy may vary depending on the clients, market or the specific business. However, the core includes the following elements:

Brand identity

Mission, vision, values, how do the company is making money, what is the business model

The market

The niche, the solution this brand is offering, opportunities and threats, differentiation 

The audience

Who are the buyer personas to know how to connect with them properly, what pain points our brand is dealing with

Brand personality

Brand personality is just like the personality of human beings. It is certain emotional or personal qualities that we associate with a particular brand. It consists of:

  • Brand archetype
  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Color palette
  • Key messages

Tone of voice and general communication strategy

Here we put it all together and offer the frame of brand communication with the audience

The strong brand identity results in brand awareness over time. The brand awareness requires consistent messaging. And crafting a consistent message requires keeping your channels harmonized. All-of-them!

Meet the brand archetypes

Deep metaphors are categories of perception that we use automatically to reveal to us the connection between objects from different levels of our experience. They give us the opportunity to explain thoughts, feelings, and abstract concepts. Deep metaphors are created in the mind, which, in turn, is dependent on the outside world and the signals it receives. The relationship between neural and social connections is the basis for the existence of deep metaphors and sets their universality.

Advertisers and marketers skillfully use this knowledge to attract the attention of consumers. Recognition of certain patterns involves conscious and unconscious thought. When we notice differences, we tend to engage our conscious minds poorly, which leaves us with the impression that the differences are large.

Thus, advertising messages (verbal and visual) work on two levels – on the one hand, they suggest the difference of the product to attract our attention, using the tendency of the mind to categorize and find even non-existent differences, and on the other – the deep metaphors used correspond to different archetypes, substantiating the existence of the product with a primordial subconscious need.

The word archetype comes from the Greek words for beginning (arche) and model (tupos), and as a concept in psychology, they reflect universal archaic images, unconscious individual content, complexes of experiences that shape our reality.

In psychology, the term “collective unconscious” introduced by Jung refers to pre-existential forms that give a strictly defined form to the content of consciousness. The collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited.

Each archetype has its own characteristics that marketers use to create advertising images for their brand – classic examples are the Marlboro cowboy, recreating the typical Western adventurer, and Harley-Davidson, a brand associated with breaking the rules, the rebel.

Archetypal images are repeated in different cultures, and on their basis, Jung derives 12 basic types, symbolizing key human characteristics.

The brand archetypes are characters defined by genetic traits that explain what they stand for and what motivates their actions. Brand archetypes give brands a character that makes them accessible and relatable to audiences who share those same values.

Guardians of the status quo – The Innocent, The Explorer, The Hero, The Sage

They bring the satisfaction of realizing themselves and others, defend autonomy, boldly express their principles and understand in detail the world in which they live.

Guardians of the moment – The Everyman, The Caregiver, The Lover, The Jester

They are always available to the group of which they are a part, they take care of the safety of their loved ones, they are obsessed with the momentary passion and fun, giving their best.

Guardians of freedom – The Creator, The Magician, The Ruler, The Outlaw

They are revolutionaries and visionaries, they see into the future and often live it themselves, they cross the boundaries of existing canons and create the rules by which others live.

Do your homework – build your brand accordingly

Brand identity is what people think about when they think about a brand. So if brand awareness is making noise about a brand, then brand identity is the content of that noise.

A strong brand identity stirs up feelings and emotions about a brand, leading to an association between the brand and certain characteristics.

There’s a 95% probability that it is the brand archetype that seduced you. There are two primary reasons you would want to align your brand with an archetype.

  1. Connection: Most brands today are in the coalface competing on features, benefits, and prices. If you don’t want your brand to become a commodity, you will need to make a deeper connection with your audience.
  2. Differentiation: When it comes to standing out in a crowd, differentiation strategies seem well worn, with latecomers to the party left with little to work with. Personalities, on the other hand, have infinite possibilities. They’re not only unique but can be extremely memorable.

Key Takeaways

  • The brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo, that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers’ minds. Your brand identity should translate across mediums.
  • Creating a strong brand identity will result in consistency and better acceptance. It stands for professionalism, sets the rights visual messages, and guarantees a convincing and sustainable brand presence.
  • Your brand identity is a tool to help you communicate your brand visually, thus supporting your brand strategy.

DO your homework but DON’T forget that a great brand is a story that is never completely told.

So how to make your brand timeless and sustainable in 3 simple steps?

  1. Wake up.
  2. Do your best.
  3. Repeat.

About the author

Experienced marketing and brand strategist with a strong creative profile. PhD graduate in Graphic Design in the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communications, Sofia.

Currently, occupied in Ad Squad and in Sofia University as a lecturer in Advertising and visual communication.

Tanya Ilieva

Marketing & Brand Strategist