Is it possible to give a ‘brand’ human traits?

How can we apply behaviours, symbology and messaging to a brand to make it easier to identify with? Can we think of a brand, like a person?

‘Brand Archetypes’ have been around for a while. They can be used to help us group people or brands each with its own unique set of characteristics. It makes them easier for us to recognize and relate to.

The twelve archetypes of human behaviour concept were developed in the 1920s by Psychiatrist, Carl Jung.

We can use these ‘archetypes’ to ‘fit a brand’. Using this subtle psychology when working with a brand can help to create familiarity with how it is seen in our minds. It makes it clearer for us to differentiate from one brand to the next.

Think of Pepsi and Coca Cola. Starbucks and Costa Coffee. Similar brands, however, in our minds, we think and relate to all of them them differently.

Benefits to brand

Basing our thinking around archetypes and character, we can better understand the behaviours of the brand and sharpen messaging we use. We can create a more personal, believable experience which can impact the whole brand identity and design.

Back to the root

The selection of the brand archetype can be aligned with the brand’s mission and values. What are the brand and its attributes? What does it want to be known for? Whom is it serving? Understanding the fundamentals creates a foundation for all of the other traits associated with the archetype that we can associate it with. These archetypes can be applied to specific niches, areas or industries in which the brand performs.

‘Brand Archetypes’ can be organised into four distinct areas that most brands fall into:

  1. Spiritual Growth: The Innocent, the Sage and the Explorer can be grouped to represent ‘Spiritual Growth’. These archetypes embody qualities like safety, freedom and understanding
  2. Leaving a mark: If the aim is to ‘leave a mark’ as a brand and create impact, it would align with an Outlaw, Magician and Hero archetype. They represent liberation, power and mastery
  3. Connect with others: The Lover, Jester and Everyman archetypes will ‘create a connection’ with others through characteristics like intimacy, joy and belonging
  4. Provide Structure: A brand that ‘provides structure’ could be a Creator, Ruler or Caregiver. These archetypes focus on behaviours that drive innovation, control and service

Where does your business or brand fall into?

With any branding process, understanding Brand Archetypes and going beyond the surface helps us to better determine what the brand is.

Pros and cons exist for each archetype. However, applying human character traits that can reflect the brand, ultimately helps us to better connect and resonate with the target audience.

Trusts and Foundations may help to ‘Provide Structure’. However, there could be crossovers as they carve out their role in the world.

We explore brand archetypes in greater detail through our Brand Design Roadmap process.

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