Think about some of the most unique, memorable brands you know. Brands like Patagonia, Apple and Dyson—brands that are recognisable and have an ‘It’ factor about them. They stand out—but they don’t actually defy classification. They simply found a personality that made the most sense to their customer.
There are many ways to dissect and map out a brand. According to Kapferer, your brand’s identity is built up of things like your logos and fonts, company culture, and image that you present. But he also suggested that your brand’s identity is also built by your customers’ self-images, and how they view other customers of your brand. If they feel like buying from you makes them cool and environmentally-focused, but also think the average consumer of your brand is a bit of a snob, those two components form part of your brand.
It’s a bit academic for the average business owner. (We get not everyone is a marketing nerd like us.) But the model does hit on a key component used across all good brand personality exercises. Namely, that your personality doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it has to reflect both you and your customers.
Brand Building: Before you, there’s them
At Paper Sword, we use the StoryBrand framework in our branding because it uses a blueprint that is familiar and resonant to the average person. Your customer is a hero who has run into an obstacle, and your company is the wise guide who helps them overcome (with your services or products). It’s an extremely useful framework for helping brand owners de-centering themselves in the “story,” and intuitively creates a message that focuses on your customers.
Two companies who solve the same problems and have similar offerings can then add their differentiation by adding personality. There are many, many academic models that can help you work through different components that make up brand personality: everything from complicated pyramids to imagining your brand as an animal. But we like the simplicity of the “story” model, so we continue that narrative theme by using brand archetypes to frame personality.
Brand archetypes: What they are and why they make sense
Carl Jung first proposed a 12-archetype model as a way of understanding psychology through the myths and culture we create. The idea being, if the idea of a ‘trickster’ or ‘hero’ or ‘everyperson’ was so pervasive and resonant that we put them in stories time and time again, these simplified figures must be a useful way for humans to think about the world.
Think of the types of characters that populate fairy tales, myths and parables. They’re filled characters that aren’t really fleshed out ‘people,’ just broadly-drawn shorthand for types of people that we all understand quickly and easily. As defined by Jung, these archetypes are:
Just by looking at this list, you can quickly understand how the motivations of a rebel differ from that of a hero or sage. But what does this have to do with marketing? In 2001, Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson co-authored The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, in which they flipped the idea into a useful tool for marketing. If you create new stories using these same archetypes, they’ll reflect the ways consumers tend to think about the world.
How to use the archetype framework in B2B marketing
So what does the brand archetype theory mean, practically-speaking? It means that while two companies might both seek to solve the same problem of customers, they can do so with a different personality, and different personalities will appeal to different customers.
Think about car brands. Functionally, they all solve the issue of getting from point A to point B. But some brands will answer deeper levels of ‘want’ through the brand archetype they use. Subaru is an Explorer because they emphasize chartering of new territory. Jaguar is a Lover—concerned with pleasure of all the senses rather than heading off-road. And Volvo is a Caregiver, because it wants to get you there safely rather than most quickly.
Figuring out your brand’s archetype is a blend of appealing to the customers you have/want and what makes sense for your team. Sure, you can pick one at random because you like the idea of being an everyperson, but it needs to fit with your offering, and it helps if there’s internal enthusiasm behind the direction.
We use a series of guided exercises to help find the archetype that best works for your brand, after clarifying your message. Sometimes, we’ll even take the same clarified message and present it with two different archetypes so you can see how they differ in actual marketing assets.
Want to know more about how brand archetypes work?
Book a call with our team so we can take you through it!