All About the Explorer
The Explorer archetype stems from a need to be individualistic and have purpose or meaning. This archetype strives to answer the questions “What am I here for? What is my purpose?” by exploring and learning from the world around it. Adventure is a means of enlightenment, and the Explorer is focused on self-discovery and self-sufficiency.
Tending to be critical of the establishment, the Explorer desires to be free from constraints. But instead of challenging the establishment (as a Hero or Outlaw might), the Explorer simply goes off in a different direction, seeking a new path. Ultimately, all it desires is the freedom and joy of discovery.
This archetype can be seen in brands such as NASA, National Geographic, The Body Shop, and Jeep.
The Explorer in Action
Out of all 12 archetypes, the Explorer is one that is less obviously tied to a particular industry or category. The Explorer archetype can very legitimately be expressed in cosmetics and fashion just as well as it can in a rugged outdoorsy brand.
Explorer brands are often ground-breaking or pioneering. Any brand, in any industry, that veers off the beaten path and forges its own, is tapping into Explorer tendencies. Nonconformity is one of the hallmarks of an Explorer brand.
The organizational culture of a brand may also define it as an Explorer. A culture that values individuality and de-emphasizes rules are typical for Explorer brands, giving employees the leeway to reach goals however they see fit. The organizational structure of an Explorer brand is decentralized and democratic, and tends towards virtual workers and tools as opposed to having employees boxed in a cubicle.
The Different Levels of the Explorer Archetype
Every archetype can be expressed at varying levels. The lower levels are less mature, while higher levels are more developed.
Level 1 of the Explorer is very straightforward, expressed by exploring the world and getting out into nature.
Level 2 is expressed when the exploration turns inward into discovering what makes oneself unique. It is the process of seeking one’s own individuality.
Level 3 is reached when the journey has led to one’s own Promised Land, a place of knowing who you are, with freedom to be completely true to who one is and express that uniqueness fully.
All in the Family
There are different facets of the Explorer that can surface, based on what attributes are strongest. The book Archetypes in Branding breaks the archetype down into sub-archetypes for a total of five (including the primary Explorer) to round out the family.
Independent and brave, the Explorer is motivated to experience new things. Pushing boundaries and taking risks are commonplace. The challenges that can arise throughout this quest are the tendencies to become alienated or wander aimlessly without true progress.
The Adventurer is daring and spontaneous, with a “no fear” attitude. This sub-archetype is recognized by its taste for danger and thrill — the rush of adrenaline is its lifeline. This addiction to adrenaline, however, could make it tough for the Adventurer to find happiness in the more mundane aspects of life.
The Pioneer is known for being the first to break ground. Innovative and driven, this sub-archetype blazes new paths. In the Pioneer’s quest for discovery, it should be careful to avoid burnout or dissatisfaction with being less than #1.
The Generalist believes that the entire world is open for experience and therefore is stimulated to explore many divergent areas. The Generalist has a great diversity of talents and knowledge, and this broad understanding may earn him the label of a Renaissance man. The challenge? Overstating or misrepresenting its level of knowledge.
The Seeker continuously strives to grow and learn. Tireless and ambitious, the Seeker leaves no stone unturned in its path to find meaning. Finding joy in discovering rather than relationships, the Seeker is constantly on the go, which unfortunately, can lead to loneliness and alienation.