A look at the different brand archetypes in the Indian context and how they can help a brand succeed
If you love speaking the language of psychology, you know that every object behavior and activity – however offbeat or atypical it may seem – can be traced back and classified into a set of predefined universal groups. These are called archetypes. Besides modern psychology, the concept of archetypes is widely used in literature as well as marketing, where it eventually found its niche.
Archetypes are attributed to brands as well and go a long way in predicting consumer behavior. They are also what we call “brand personalities”. The classifications vary far and wide, but traditionally, there are 12 universally accepted archetypes.
12 months of the year. 12 zodiac signs. 12 brand personalities.
Which one is your brand?
||Traits: The world at my feet
|Examples: Audi A4
Why are brand archetypes so important?
Believe it or not, brands sell because they connect with certain audiences in a certain way. For a user to choose one brand over another, he or she needs to establish a strong appeal towards it – a sense of identity, if you will. Archetypes go a long way in helping to build this bridge between the consumer psyche and the brand. Large conglomerates know this. This is why they have been known to shell out as much as 13% of revenues on marketing alone.
Archetypes enrich and guide businesses in three different ways:
Definition: Brand personality and the way in which a brand is marketed often play deep into audience minds. If you analyze the most-watched ads of any given year, you’ll see that most them have used powerful storylines to convey their messages. The type of storytelling depends heavily on brand archetypes and varies extensively with each one. It may even be a mix of one or several different archetypes. The strongest examples in this regard is the Caregiver or the Innocent archetypes, which have been banked on by neo-natal care brands such as Johnson & Johnson for ages.
Differentiation: With monopolies on the decline and product features almost identical across categories, it is important for brands to find a way to stand out from the crowd, lest they die. Archetypes are what helps products that are otherwise similar to each other cultivate unique personalities and consequently, their own loyal consumer base. Take the example of Coke and Pepsi. Coke has mapped its identity anywhere between the Everyman, Hero, and Innocent archetypes, and this has worked for coke. But Pepsi has been anything but conventional by nature. From the very beginning, Pepsi’s personality has chimed between the Outlaw or the Jester – at the far end of the spectrum. This has helped Pepsi successfully create its own standing in a Coke-dominated market. There you have it: two similar brands with two distinct personalities.
Direction: A good understanding of your brand archetype can play a vital role in directing the next course of action for your brand – say, in terms of new product development. Sports brands such as Nike and Adidas have long traversed the Hero path to come up with bolder and better designs that align completely with their brand positioning – ordinary people donning larger-than-life roles and achieving godlike success through sheer endurance. Similarly, SUVs which are based on the Explorer or Outlaw archetypes ensure that their newer releases are more rugged and more enduring than their previous models – much in line with their USP.
So, which archetype should your brand be?
It’s not mandatory that your brand is confined to one single archetype. Many brands have experimented with a combination of archetypes and with great results! A mix and match should not be a problem as long as a) the archetypes are not contradicting each other, and b) they are in sync with your brand’s broader strategy and outlook – both global as well as local.
For instance, one can tell that mixing contrasting stereotypes such as the Innocent and Outlaw will not work under most circumstances. It would also be a mistake to mix the serious pitch of a Caregiver product with the brand personality of the Jester, without some serious thinking through.