Using Archetypes to Differentiate Your Brand
Have you ever heard of archetypes? In literature, archetypes are used to describe a certain type of character that exhibits a pattern of behavior. The hero, the villain, or the princess.
In marketing, archetyping can be defined as the process of assigning human characteristics to objects and organizations. Have you ever heard someone describe a car as “sporty” or a pair of shoes as “sad?” The car itself isn’t an athlete, and the shoes don’t have feelings. BUT by using human characteristics to describe these objects, you can start to form a memorable visual.
Audience personas, or archetypes, are a simple way to differentiate your brand from its competitors and help your customers establish a positive association with your brand. Your product features are important, but your personality makes you unique.
Think of one of your favorite brands. If that brand were a person and you met them, what would they look like? Chances are, you can form an image in your mind of what they might be like. If so, this brand has used the repetition of certain messaging and imagery to differentiate itself in the market.
Let’s use an example. Two familiar brands, M&M’s and Godiva, both sell chocolate. But, you can probably picture commercials and advertisements with the mischievous little M&M characters running around playing jokes on each other. Very different than Godiva’s advertisements, which might show an elegantly dressed woman and the tagline “wonder awaits.” M&M’s has embraced the “jokester” archetype. They want their chocolate to be fun, entertaining and festive. Godiva has embraced the “lover” archetype. They want their chocolate to be enchanting, elegant and exquisite- starting with the gold wrapper.
Here are a few questions which will help you determine the right archetype for your brand:
- What kind of language am I using to describe my brand?
Is your brand cheery or down-to-business? Are you rebellious, challenging social norms? Or are you thoughtful and compassionate? Creating a list of words associated with your brand will help you define which archetype categories you fall into.
- What types of imagery do I use to communicate about my brand?
A picture is worth a thousand words! Are the photos on your website artsy, taken at unique angles? Are they soft, focusing on connection and warmth? Or maybe your photos are adventurous, showing subjects in motion, ready to explore! Your photography and design will also help determine your archetypes.
- If my brand were a person, what would they value?
Perhaps the best way to define your brand archetypes is to picture your brand as an actual person! What would they value? What kind of activities would they enjoy?
Set your brand apart.
Using archetypes will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors by establishing a brand persona that is unique to you. Once you’re aware of archetypes, you may even be able to identify which archetypes your competitors are using. But, by choosing your own unique archetype mix, you will set yourself apart and create recognition among your customers.