Brand archetypes and how to use them in video marketing

17th July 2015

Do you know your brand well? Could you show us who you are in under one minute in a brand video? Or even in six seconds via Vine? In the age of the distracted mobile user and with a proliferation of content from so many other competing businesses, video can help you cut through and differentiate your brand. But if you don’t make an impact quickly, people will click on to the next piece of content.

Brand archetypes are an effective way of starting the process of defining your business and helping you create content which resonates with your audience. In this article we’ll show you how to use this concept to understand and differentiate your brand more effectively.

What are brand archetypes?

According to the OED, archetypes are:

  • A very typical example of a certain person or thing.
  • An original which has been imitated.
  • In Jungian theory, a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.
  • A recurrent symbol or motif in literature and art.

Marketing has drawn on this further as a way of helping to understand branding (see Carol Pearson and Margaret Mark’s The Hero and the Outlaw). They show how brands succeed when they understand and mobilise these deep psychological imprints or shortcuts which help us understand what a brand is all about intuitively, emotionally and quickly.

Which brand archetype fits your business?

There are 12 common brand archetypes which are featured below. Do you recognise your business in any of them?

Hero (Nike, Airbus)

The hero uses his/her strength and courage to overcome obstacles and inspires others to do the same. There is an interesting example from Nike here with Rory McEllroy chasing his hero, Tiger Woods. Titled “Ripple”, this film illustrates the way that heroes influence the next generation.

Magician (Disney)

Magicians are about transformation, imagination and opening up a world of possibilities. Disney is an excellent example of a brand that simply embodies this archetype.

Sage (Google, BBC)

The sage is a smart brand. It’s all about learning the truth about the world by collecting and disseminating knowledge. Here is an ad for Google’s Science Fair showing how they are connecting up the world through science and knowledge.

Lover (Häagen-Dazs)

Passionate and a pleasure-seeker, the lover archetype seeks intimacy. When you have a strong brand archetype, you can create video content which reinforces this. For instance, here’s a Vine from Häagen-Dazs which shows the lover archetype in just 6 seconds.

Explorer (Red Bull)

Explorers want the freedom to experience the world for themselves. They’re ambitious and get a buzz from the excitement of discovering new things. Red Bull understands its brand identity, its positioning and the power of content marketing. Here is an example of content which they have created, not about energy drinks, but about adventure.

Everyman (Kitkat)

This brand is aimed at your average Joe, and it’s about connecting with people and belonging. Kitkat celebrates its ‘everyman’ quality in its long-running ‘take a break’ campaign.

Ruler (Mercedes Benz)

They are leaders, exerting control and being top of their field. The tagline of Mercedes Benz shows its powerful position in the upscale car market – “the best or nothing”. In the video below, they link up with a Hollywood blockbuster movie release to reinforce this dominance.

Innocent (Dove)

The innocent returns to basic values and strives to recreate the world that they would like to see. Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign works within this archetype as it strives to encourage women to love themselves and pass this on to their daughters.

Revolutionary (Oculus Rift, Virgin)

Also known as the outlaw, this brand archetype does not follow the rules. If the status quo isn’t working, this archetype wants to shake things up. Virgin is such a brand and clearly differentiates itself from competitors as can be seen in this brand video for its airline.

Jester (Trident, Irn Bru, Hobgoblin)

This brand is all about having fun and joking around. Irn Bru uses cheeky humour to differentiate itself in the competitive soft drinks market.

Caregiver (Aptamil, Volvo)

The caregiver is known for wanting to help people and for a generous spirit. This ad for Volvo epitomises this archetype as it shows how the brand tries to prevent accidents.

Creator (Honda, Apple)

Creators are innovative and imaginative with a clear vision. The ‘Power of Dreams’ series from Honda could perhaps be placed in the magician archetype, but this is also a creative automotive brand as seen in this latest ad:

How to use the brand archetypes?

Once you know your brand archetype you can create a tone of voice and identity that works in order to position your brand. This helps you decide the kind of video content to create. For instance, using the jester archetype, we worked with Hobgoblin beers producing a live quiz show on Halloween that formed the central point of a wider social media campaign to attract new brand advocates. This brand realised its archetype and could brief an agency to produce a social video which matched this.

Archetypes are so important in video marketing because they’re easily identifiable and resonate with the viewer – even if they do not consciously realise it. With viewers’ short attention spans, they can tune out of your video at any time, but if you are clear who you are and you’re targeting the right people, it’s more likely they will keep watching and even share.

With a clear idea of your brand archetype, you can focus on reinforcing relevant messages throughout your video marketing and indeed all your communications. Ultimately you will become known not just for your products or services, but for your brand values.

Want to stand out in the content soup?

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Want to know more about how brand archetypes and content can help your brand succeed? Get your free copy of our new guide now.

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