The Brand & The Individual: Personality Symbols That Connect Us All
‘Netflix is my spirit animal’, ‘I am more of a Pizza Hut person’ – we have a habit of chalking out our personalities for others by referring to brands. It is quite interesting how we water down complex or hefty-to-explain traits by citing relatable brands. As it turns out, this connection with brands is not accidental and there is some personality science right there. And we are here to dish.
Flashback time: A Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung (1875-19561), laid out four overarching personality types. These ‘personality archetypes’ represent behaviour patterns that basically make up our ways of being. Now, without diving too deep into what Carl Jung theorised, we will come to why these are relevant to understanding brands and our connection with them.
Did you ever wonder what sets apart Netflix from other streaming services? Why don’t the identities of all these entertainment portals collapse and present to us as one? Essentially, what helps us differentiate one brand from another? The answer, my good sir, is Brand Archetypes. Before a brand even thinks of branding, consciously (or even subconsciously, if it is a smaller brand not big on proper branding) chalks out a persona for itself. This overarching trait could be spotted in their product messaging and packaging, marketing tactics, ads, social presence and so on.
The Brand, The Individual & The Connection
Going back to our man, Carl Jung, for a bit. According to him, personality traits are embedded in our psyche. They are like icons or symbols that already exist in our brains and are a part of our culture. What the big brains of the Marketing Departments do is that they anchor a brand against these pre-existing symbols or traits. Doing so makes the brand come alive and gives a heartbeat to an otherwise non-living entity. When an ‘Explorer’ person will see an ad by a brand being marketed as an ‘Explorer’, they will subconsciously relate it. A connection to the brand will be made and the Marketer will go home thus doing his job successfully: the job of grabbing customer’s attention.
The 12 Brand Archetypes
Brand archetypes are broadly divided into four spectrums, that are then further divided into a total of 12 traits. The four spectrums are – brands that Leave Legacy, Explore Spirituality, Provide Structure and Pursue Connection. Let’s take a look at these traits.
1. Brands That Leave Legacy
The ‘Outlaw’ brands believe in not playing by the rules. They are the ones that strive for liberation, change and righteousness and believe in disrupting the existing structures to make their own place.
Brands- Netflix, Smirnoff, Diesel
The ‘Magician’ trait typifies brands who are in the industry to take big risks, transform things and amaze people at the same time.
Brands- Coca Cola, M.A.C., McDonald’s
The ‘Hero’ brands rise to the challenge of igniting courage and instilling positive change in the world. This archetype inspires, motivates and empowers people.
Brands- Redbull, Nike, Adidas
2. Brands That Explore Spirituality
The ‘Explorer’ brands are outgoing, independent and individualistic in their outlook. They brave the unknown and inspire their customers to chart out newer paths for themselves.
Brands- Starbucks, Johnnie Walker, The Body Shop
The ‘Sage’ brands are driven by their desire for truth and want to illuminate the world with their knowledge. These brands are like that trustworthy friend on whose wisdom you can always rely.
Brands- Google, BBC, TED
The ‘Innocent’ brands are simple, carefree and inspire refreshing and positive thoughts. They want to sprinkle purity and joy all over this cynical world.
Brands – Dove, Disney, Ford
3. Brands That Provide Structure
A ‘Creator’ brand is hinged to creativity, discovery and innovation. Also known as the ‘Builder’, these brands envision a quality product and an authentic brand story.
Brands- Apple, Adobe, Lego
A ‘Ruler’ brand takes control, fosters stability and trust, and leads the way. More often than not, ‘Rulers’ will rope in certain exclusivity and class and hence are usually creators of luxury goods.
Brands – Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes
‘Caregiver’ brand is nurturing, helpful and altruistic, and wants to make people feel secure. A full-blown ‘Caregiver’ brand would be found in teaching, nursing, charities and/or restorative jobs.
Brands- Johnson & Johnson, UNICEF, Nivea
4. Brands That Pursue Connection
Just like the name suggests an ‘Everyman’ brand is universally relatable and is humble and approachable. These brands cater to the masses and value authenticity.
Brands- KFC, Facebook, Gap
The ‘Jester’ brands help people see the lighter side of life. These brands think outside the box and spread creativity through joy.
Brands- M&M’s, Dominos, Cadbury
A ‘Lover’ brand connects with people emotionally, provides experiences appealing to the senses, and makes life more special with their touch.
Brands- Chanel, Magnum, Victoria’s Secret
Taking Brand Archetypes a step further, Topline Consulting Group will launch a #ZodiacAsBrands campaign soon.