“Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it actually were alive in some way, they have a relationship with it and care about it.” – The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes
Why is it that we are so interested in labeling ourselves by taking personality tests? I’ve always thought that it’s because, sometimes, (even if we refuse to acknowledge it) we want to fit into a box.
When it comes to branding, the same is true. You may not want to admit that the company you’ve worked tirelessly to build and mold into a unique, one-of-a-kind brand is also the company you often want to shove into a box with your competitors. In a way, however, finding “boxes” for your company to fit into is the first step to producing effective branding and consistent voice.
In short, I’m talking about using marketing psychology to influence consumer behavior. More specifically: using a derivative of psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s 12 brand archetypes (“boxes”) to influence consumers when developing the core identity of your company.
The 12 Jungian Archetypes
Carl Gustav Jung is one of the most famous reformers of traditional psychoanalysis. Staying far away from Freudian ideas, Jung researched and reported his own theories, findings, and opinions. One of his most revolutionary ideas was the 12 Jungian archetypes of personality. These twelve types are pulled from now-universal symbols and myths from many different cultures.
Marketers have developed a model for developing brand identity and voice that is based heavily on the 12 Jungian archetypes of personality. To learn more about the different archetypes and how they compare, check out our blog on all 12 brand archetypes.
The Explorer Archetype
The Explorer archetype’s goal: to live an inspiring and fulfilling life. The Explorer is authentic, curious, and independent. This specific type wants to answer questions such as: “Why am I here?” or “What is my purpose?” The Explorer wants the freedom to forge a unique path and focus on self-discovery and the meaning of life.
Although one to criticize the establishment, Explorer brands would rather venture down their own path than put up a fight (as the Hero or Outlaw type might). Just as Explorer brands crave freedom, they also strive to help others feel free. They are pioneering and often offer products and services that appear unyielding or rugged.
Goal: To live an exciting and fulfilling life
Desire: To have the freedom to explore and discover
Fear: Feeling trapped
Strategy: Take the road less traveled
Explorer in Motion
A fashion line can be an Explorer just as well as a mountainous, outdoorsy brand can. Any brand that veers off the beaten path and invents its own could be categorized as the Explorer.
Essentially, if you’re having a lot of difficulties placing your brand into a “box,” that may be because your brand is an Explorer. Because of this, a wide variety of industries may find themselves fitting into this specific archetype.
Another reason your brand might be classified under Explorer: company culture. If your company values originality and encourages you to reach your goals in a way that works best for you, this may be an archetype that fits.
Levels of the Explorer Archetype
All 12 brand archetypes can be expressed at fluctuating levels. The lower levels are less developed, while higher levels are more mature and refined.
Level 1 of the Explorer is very candid, illustrated by traveling and exploring the world and getting out into nature and the environment.
Level 2 is manifested when the “exploration” turns inward and focuses on learning what makes oneself unique. Essentially, it is the process of seeking one’s own identity.
Level 3 is reached when the exploratory journey has led to one’s own “Promised Land,” a place of knowing who you are with the freedom to be entirely yourself and express that individuality completely.
Explorer Archetype Examples
Not much needs to be said regarding what makes Jeep an Explorer brand. This advertisement features clips from outdoor locations all over the world. The beautiful scenery, the action shots, the people “exploring” the planet in their Jeeps – the entire ad encompasses the Explorer brand perfectly.
REI’s website story says it all: “At Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived. We believe that it’s in the wild, untamed and natural places that we find our best selves, so our purpose is to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors, for all…So whether you’re new to the outdoors or a seasoned pro, we hope you’ll join us.”
The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization committed to exploring and protecting the planet. Just a quick glance at their site, their social media platforms, and their magazines instantly qualifies them as an Explorer brand. The front page of the National Geographic site reads, “EXPLORE TODAY. Through the eyes of our Explorers, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers.”
Is Your Brand an Explorer?
Does your brand fit the definition of an Explorer archetype? At your company, does your overall brand or company culture find identity in the outdoors? Do you help people discover new things, venture off the beaten path, or express their individuality? If so, your brand may be an Explorer archetype.
Read about the remaining 11 brand archetypes to further embrace the act of putting your brand into “boxes.”
-Written by Lily Tillman