How to build brands with character
Photo: Mali Desha
What makes a brand memorable? Is it that inspiring ad that we can’t seem to stop talking about, the vibrant logo that we instantly recognise, or is there something deeper that goes beyond aesthetics?
These were some of the questions I asked the Pomegranites during my recent skillshare presentation about brand archetypes. Think of a brand archetype as your brand’s unique personality. It’s the character or persona your brand takes on to make it relatable and recognisable to your audience. Like people and animals, brands can take on different personalities too, and an archetype helps define that personality. By leveraging the power of archetypes, brands can tap into universal values and emotions that resonate with their audience.
Branding and psychology
Carl Jung’s theory provides a fascinating perspective on archetypes and their psychological impact. According to Jung, our minds are influenced by a collective unconscious which he described as a shared pool of memories, symbols, and experiences that shape our behaviour and perceptions.
When brands align their business strategy and communications efforts with specific archetypes, they tap into these deep symbolic meanings, establishing a subconscious connection with their audience. A great example of this is the work we’re doing for Girl Effect’s Big Sis personas or Chommies, a group of fictional characters accompanying Big Sis on her journey to make the brand more relatable to South African girls aged 13-17.
By introducing the Chommies into the brand and aligning them with the aspirations and challenges of young girls, Girl Effect aims to create a reliable and engaging experience for its target audience, while providing a safe and non-judgemental space for them to explore topics such as relationships, mental wellbeing and sexual health. It’s clear that brand archetypes go beyond surface-level marketing tactics – they have the power to evoke emotions, build trust and create transformative experiences.
Let’s explore some of these archetypes and uncover how they shape the essence of a brand’s personality:
The Innocent: Symbolises purity, simplicity, and optimism. Brands with this archetype focus on conveying trust, safety and a sense of nostalgia.
The Hero: Represents courage, strength and a desire for triumph. Heroic brands strive to inspire and empower their audience, encouraging them to overcome challenges.
The Everyman: Portrays relatability, down-to-earth values and a sense of belonging. These brands aim to connect with everyday individuals and emphasise their authenticity.
The Caregiver: Emphasises compassion, generosity and a genuine desire to help others. Caregiver brands focus on nurturing and supporting their customers.
When building a strong brand, aligning it with a specific archetype can be a rewarding experience, establishing a clear identity that tells the world who you are and what you stand for.
How to discover and define your brand archetype
Discovering and defining your brand archetype is an exciting process that impacts your brand’s identity and connection with your audience.
1. Know your brand: Start by gaining a deep understanding of your brand’s values, mission and target audience. What sets your brand apart? What do you want to achieve? Consider your brand’s essence and the qualities you want to communicate to your audience.
2. Explore archetype options: Get to know the different brand archetypes that exist. There are several frameworks available, each with its own set of archetypes. Some popular ones include Carl Jung’s 12 archetypes and Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson‘s brand archetypes.
3. Reflect on your brand’s personality: What words or emotions do you want people to associate with your brand? Is your brand playful, nurturing, authoritative or adventurous? Consider the emotions and experiences you want to evoke in your audience.
4. Analyse your audience: Understand your target audience deeply. What are their desires, values and motivations? How do they perceive your brand? Analyse their preferences, behaviour and archetype traits that resonate with them.
5. Seek feedback: Reach out to your team, customers and stakeholders. Ask them how they perceive your brand and if they identify any specific archetypal traits.
6. Embrace authenticity: Choose an archetype that genuinely aligns with your brand’s essence and values.
7. Test and refine: Once you have identified a potential archetype, test it in your branding and communication efforts. See how your audience responds and if it resonates with them. Be open to refining and adjusting it to create a stronger connection.
Remember, as humans, we love storytelling, and brand archetypes are a powerful tool to connect with your audience, creating an emotional bond that makes your brand unforgettable.