Psychology-Driven Brand Design. Creating and Refining Remarkable Brand Identities.

Brand Archetype FAQ: “How do I know my brand archetype is accurate?”

Brand archetypes are the secret sauce to creating stronger brands, and are an essential tool for any marketing toolbox! To learn more, read the introduction here.

“How do I know my brand archetype is accurate?”

Remember, your archetype is a way to manage meaning. Ultimately it is subjective. An artist paints a canvas. As it later hangs on the gallery wall, two people looking at it have two different interpretations of what it means. Meaning is in the heart of the beholder.

Here’s the reality:

In the same way that you can’t be everything to everyone, you also can’t always be one thing to everyone. For example, to one person, Google is a Ruler brand. But to another, Google is a Sage brand. Theoretically, Google is indeed a Sage archetype, filling the consumer’s need for understanding and knowledge. But does that mean the one who feels Google is a Ruler is wrong? Of course not — you can’t tell someone that what they feel is wrong or that their experience is invalid. Perhaps that person has only encountered Google the giant corporation who captures our data, the ubiquitous Big Brother who tracks our every online move, the king of search engines – heck, the king of the entire internet. Your brand says as much about what resonates with that person (based on their individual perspective, personality, and experience) as it does your own strategic positioning.

Yet, here’s the goal:

You want to position yourself as one archetype. Let that be your goal, and just work on getting as close to that as possible. This isn’t a perfect world, and things aren’t always black and white. But don’t let that deter you. Going back to the artist’s painting on the gallery wall — if his goal was to create something ambiguous and open to interpretation, he can do whatever he wants, simply being focused on expressing himself and letting the chips fall where they may. However, if he wants it to mean something specific and he wants to communicate that specific meaning with others, he’s going to have to be a lot more intentional and clear in his execution. That painting then won’t be so abstract, but more literal, more thoughtful. That’s how you want to approach your branding: intentionally crafting every impression. Ultimately, you don’t have control over someone else’s thoughts and perspectives, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing your best to manage the meaning of your brand.

The litmus test:

The way to determine your archetype is simply to survey others. You will probably find that people in different stations in life will have different perspectives in looking at you. Focus on your existing customers as well as your ideal customers. Conduct focus groups, put a survey on your website, talk to your customers. Monitor your reputation online, and get direct feedback where possible.

  • Find out why they chose you over a competitor.
  • Find out what motivates them to use you / buy from you.
  • Find out what needs or void you fill in their lives.
  • Ask them what ONE thing they never want you to change about your brand.
  • Find out how they would talk about you to a friend.
  • Have them describe you in one word or phrase.

To get started, multiple choice works well, with a write-in option available. If you have a lot of really divergent responses, that’s a sign that you may need to tighten up on your brand positioning and expression.

Go Deeper

Do you have a burning question about brand archetypes? Want to dig deep and explore the hidden potential of your brand’s personality? Let us know! We will be happy to schedule a consultation to find out how you can use the power of brand archetypes in your marketing. Still haven’t taken the quiz? Set aside ten minutes and do it here: brandpersonalityquiz.com.

Nyla Smith

Nyla Smith

Nyla is a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Front-End Web Developer and Consultant with over 15 years of experience. She is the owner of n-Vision Designs, LLC in Hampton Roads, Virginia, which exists to provide marketing support and brand consulting to small- and medium-sized businesses needing creative solutions. Contact Nyla if you'd like to discuss your next creative project. She can usually be bribed to a meeting with a cup of green tea and an oatmeal cookie.

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