All About the Sage
The Sage believes the path to happiness is paved with knowledge and that by seeking out the truth and sharing it with others, we can make the world a better place. The Sage shuns ambiguity, misinformation, misleading claims, and ignorance, whether in itself or in others. Sage brands generally have high levels of consciousness and intelligence.
Snags occur when the Sage becomes too focused on the dogma of objective truth and loses touch with social graces. (You Sherlock Holmes and House fans out there know what I’m talking about.) The neverending quest for absolute answers could also result in an acute case of “analysis paralysis” and prevent the Sage from ever taking action.
The Sage Brand in Action
Typically touted as “experts,” these brands act as sources of guidance to help consumers feel more informed to make better decisions. Well-known brands such as Oprah Winfrey, Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, The New York Times, and CNN all position themselves as beacons, shining the light of truth in a dark, often confusing, world.
The Sage brand is a natural fit for any company that places emphasis on research and development, the acquisition of knowledge, or disseminating information. Examples include institutions of higher education, news sources, research firms, museums, bookstores, and libraries.
Brands that identify with the Sage often use polished and dignified marketing materials and don’t try to impress with superficial fluff or gimmicks. Sage brands tend to gravitate to a palette of neutral or subdued colors such as gray, navy, or white for their marketing designs and logos. Accordingly, some Sage brands produce marketing materials that veer from the status quo in an effort to make people see things in a different way.
Adhering always to their quest for knowledge, Sage brands refuse to “dumb down” their marketing, as that would be an insult to the intelligence of their customers. The focus instead is on knowledge and sometimes exclusivity. (Think Ivy League colleges, where not everyone is “good enough” and only a select few receive that coveted acceptance letter).
The culture within Sage brands is often focused on analysis, learning, research, and planning. These brands encourage freedom of thought and individuality amongst their employees so they can develop the most valuable company asset – expertise.
The Different Levels of the Sage Archetype
Each archetype has levels, with the lower levels being less advanced, while higher levels are more evolved or developed.
Level 1: Conducting a search for absolute truth by looking to experts to provide answers and objectivity.
Level 2: Aiming to become an expert through critical thinking and analysis.
Level 3: Achieving expert status through wisdom and a high level of confidence in one’s area of expertise.
All in the Family
There are different aspects of the Sage archetype that can emerge, based on the strength of various attributes. The book Archetypes in Branding breaks the Sage (including the primary Sage) for a total of five to complete the family.
Motivated by a desire to seek the truth, the Sage values knowledge and learning. With an independent streak a mile wide and a healthy dose of skepticism, the Sage prefers to make rational decisions based on research.
Challenges arrive in the forms of arrogance and a rigid reliance on dogma. Others dread the classic “know-it-all” attitude and accompanying air of righteousness.
The Mentor’s very existence is devoted to sharing wisdom for the benefit and support of others. The ability to remain objective and be a good judge of character serves the Mentor well and ups the level of trustworthiness. Everything the Mentor does is based on a desire to make sure the right outcomes are reached.
The Mentor needs to be careful about dispensing all that info because a “helping hand” can easily morph into “an iron fist” if no one’s watching.
Like all great sleuths, the Detective diligently searches to uncover what is hidden. The Detective possesses a fondness for puzzles and has a keen eye for empirical evidence, but is also deeply intuitive and relies on instinct.
Even if the Detective doesn’t want to admit it, the search for truth can be a selfish pursuit rather than for the benefit of others and the Detective may land in hot water if the search for truth turns into snooping.
Spiritual in nature, although not necessarily tied to religion, the Shaman has a mystical power to see and tell the truth, particularly from a “higher consciousness” or alternative perspective. (Deepak Chopra is a good example of a Sage brand that would fall into this subarchetype.)
Dangers abound if the Shaman develops a false sense of power, as that could lead to bogus claims and manipulation.
A superb communicator, the Translator taps into universal truths by interpreting meaning and connecting patterns. An intelligent messenger, the Translator is attracted to communication and language.
Before sharing those divine truths with the world, the Translator would be well served to remember the old saying “Haste makes waste” whenever the urge to make premature conclusions strikes.