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Archetypes and Branding

Alex Kroll, a former CEO of Y&R, addressed the Association of National Advertisers in October 1989. His speech “Remember, Brands Are People Too” pointed out the following idea:

“Individualistic brands have created characters that have a richness, a complexity, an authority far greater than the words ‘brand personality’ imply…they have managed to embody the kinds of conflicts, contrasts, sequences of events, odd shapes, and unpredictable ordering of events that great plays, novels, paintings, and sculpture have always contained.”

Therefore, the concept of the ‘archetype’ has been used to define that personality.  An “archetype” is the original form of anything. It is the ‘first print’ of an object that represents the essence of a category to which it belongs. Different models have been developed to group into categories, such as the BrandAsset Archetypes by Y&R that comprises twelve of them with four domains that contain sets of three.

In this model, gender essence is incorporated; therefore, some elements may have masculine or feminine nature as part of their characteristics. Also, each one has a counterpart that should be avoided in order to main the brand’s health.   

Click here to view  the complete model.

On the other hand, Jennifer Aeker developed the five dimensions of brand personality as shown below: 

The traits belonging to each one are down to earth, honest, wholesome, cheerful, daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date, reliable, intelligent, successful, upper class, charming, outdoorsy, tough among others.

Several ideas and concepts can be used to construct or redefine your brand; however, decisions must be based on qualitative research. Thorough qualitative research! Keep in mind the following points:

  • Brand personality will only be useful when the target does relate to the chosen projection.
  • Once the right archetype is defined and ready to bring into play, make sure to keep its characteristics congruent in any type of ad, and of course, in social media.
  • For the five dimensions of brand personality, do not choose a big number of traits. Only the ones that fit your target’s interest. 

Here is one more reason why you must know your audience. Further steps depend on this fact.

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