We’ve now analysed nine out of the twelve brand archetypes, explaining what they are, how they are applied by famous brands, what connects them, and what distinguishes them.
In part 1 of our four-part series, we looked at the Ruler, the Hero and the Outlaw brand archetypes. In part 2, we analysed the Caregiver, the Innocent and the Regular Guy, while part 3 examined the Sage, the Creator and the Jester.
This time around, we finish off our series with the final three categories: the Explorer, the Magician and the Lover. What makes them fall into one coherent group is the fact that brands representing these archetypes believe that the usual, everyday world is not for them and look for the extraordinary in life: adventure and exploration of new places (the Explorer), transformation and magic (the Magician), and love and passion (the Lover).
Brands in the Explorer archetype like to experience new things and are always on a mission to find a better, more exciting world. They value freedom, independence, authenticity and individualism above anything else. Explorer brands are typically adventurous and build connotations of discovery, exploration and journey. Nature and travel are common themes in their communication.
An example of a brand that slips perfectly into the Explorer archetype, is American clothing company Patagonia. Exploration and adventure is built firmly into the Patagonia brand. The business originated from a small climbing tool company, and has gone on to produce clothing for activities including skiing, snowboarding, surfing and of course, climbing. Whilst encouraging others to explore the natural world with their products, they also show a great deal of care for the environment, with a key part of their mission statement highlighting that they “cause no unnecessary harm” while producing their line.
Louis Vuitton is a less obvious example of an Explorer brand. While many marketing publications define Louis Vuitton as a Ruler or Lover brand because of its luxury status, it is mostly an Explorer brand (with some elements of the Creator archetype). Louis Vuitton originally was a luggage company and to this day the main pillar of its communication is travel, journey and adventure: from travel-inspired collections to messaging focused on travel and journey, to Louis Vuitton video city guides, to multiple campaigns shot in exotic locations. Louis Vuitton’s idea of travel is in fact quite philosophical – it’s about the journey, not the destination. The concept was verbalised in one of the brand’s campaigns: “Return to a time when travel itself was a destination, getting there was not as important as the experience of going. There’s no such thing as a destination, because the journey never ends.”
Magician brands are often about fantasy, spirituality, magic and being in a flow. However, some traits of the Magician archetype are less obvious. Brands which focus on transformation, promise miracles and make dreams come true also fall into this unique category.
A strong example of a Magician brand is Honda. Honda focuses heavily on imagination, and as part of its brand strategy, places emphasis on transforming ideas into breakthrough innovations. The strategy also revolves around the power of dreams and the ability to turn them into reality. Part of Honda’s philosophy is based around “providing joys to the world through new challenges and the realization of dreams”.
Another example of a Magician brand is Intel. Although Intel is mostly famous for its processors, the company attempts to paint an emotionally engaging picture of what it does, claiming that “Intel makes possible the most amazing experiences of the future”. Intel rarely talks about specifics of its products, instead, its branding strategy and messaging focus on the transformation of Intel’s invisible technology into extraordinary experiences, placing the company in the Magician brands group.
Lover brands are all about creating desire. They promise beauty, sex appeal, and sensual experiences, and often focus in communication on indulgence, pleasure, intimacy and passion. There are whole product categories which are based on this archetype, such as lingerie or chocolate.
A prime example of a Lover brand is Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret was founded by entrepreneur Roy Raymond in the 1980s, after he found nothing but underwhelming garments in department stores. Once a niche business, Victoria’s Secret has become a world-famous brand, standing for sex appeal, intimacy and desire – traits typical for the Lover archetype.
Another example is Gucci, whose brand strategy is solely built on the Lover archetype. For two decades, Gucci’s communication was characterised by the bold, sexually provocative and controversial style initiated by Tom Ford, then the brand’s artistic director, and continued by Frida Giannini. In 2015, with Gucci under new management, a subtler approach was initiated – the new brand character is still sensual and extravagant, but is less provocative, and rather more romantic than sexual.
We’ve now analysed all twelve brand archetypes, and some of the brands that are defined by them. For more examples of brands that fall into these archetypes, along with full analyses of their brand strategies, go to BrandStruck.
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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.
BrandStruck is the only online database of brand strategy case studies.
This is a tool that is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals, allowing them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands, the similarities and differences between them and to learn more about certain categories.