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Brand archetypes: a new way to approach tone and manner in content marketing

Brands have traditionally defined their mission, vision and value, that they then align with a tone and manner that fits, but more and more brands are turning to brand archetypes to define who they are.

In our content strategy framework (based on the Business Model Canvas), there is a block that basically defines how the brands “speaks”. How it is characterized from the perspective of the segments and audiences it wants to reach.

This block is composed of different elements:

  • The tone of the brand
  • The manner in which it communicates
  • The way it adapts to the different stages of the customer journey

Over the years, we have built tools at Toast that allow us to work with clients on these elements. We use NielsenNorman’s Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice to start the conversation, but through Malika Desrosiers’ work, these were expanded to Toast’s 20 Dimensions, which we can present and discuss if you book a quick meeting with us. And on the Customer Journey front, we always recommend simplifying it as much as possible, and use Hubspot’s flywheel to illustrate how content can adapt to various stages in which a customer can be:

Through all this, we are always developing our craft, our expertise and have recently started analysis on how to integrate the aspects of brand archetypes in this block of the Content Strategy Canvas.

“People buy from people”

This sentence is what bases the notion of brand archetypes, thanks to the work done by Carl Jung and David Aaker. Specifically, Jung had established that in the global unconscious, there are 12 archetypes with which every human can relate and connect.

This can be a key in creating a brand’s voice and messaging, as it builds on the notion that if a brand mimics a brand archetype’s posture, tone and manner, it can more easily create a connection with its consumers, clients and audiences because people subconsciously “understand” the archetype.

Brand archetypes consist in personifying the brand, giving it a “human” image, allowing to create a stronger emotional connection and building trust with the consumer.

Content is actually perfect to leverage this personalization, through the different interactions a brand can have with its audiences (chatbots, email marketing, personalization in customer support platforms, video marketing, etc.).

Many brands are using brand archetypes, bringing a more human approach to the interactions and the content they publish and distribute, and this is all based on the works of Carl Jung (1954) who studied archetypes and David Aaker (1997) who studied brand personality in the context of advertising. 

As outlined in a Branding Magazine article by Gidyon Thompson: “The ideas and ideals of Carl Jung and David Aaker will not just be a textbook idea, but we’ll see corporations living out their archetype and personalities, living and coexisting among their target audience. Since “people buy from people”, this will greatly impact sales and customer trust.”

If you also have time, take a few minutes to read Sara Emilia Bernát’s article on the subject, as she deconstructs the notion of brand archetypes and how it can be tactically and truly applied in branding.

The following table lists all 12 brand archetypes:

 

 

What are the human desires tied to each of the 12 brand archetypes?

All of the 12 brand archetypes can be linked to a human desire:

  1. The Outlaw: LIBERATION
  2. The Magician: POWER
  3. The Hero: MASTERY
  4. The Lover: INTIMACY
  5. The Jester: ENJOYMENT
  6. The Everyman: BELONGING
  7. The Caregiver: SERVICE
  8. The Ruler: CONTROL
  9. The Creator: INNOVATION
  10. The Innovent: SAFETY
  11. The Sage: UNDERSTANDING
  12. The Explorer: FREEDOM

Brand archetypes and content marketing

What do brand archetypes mean for content marketing and content production? In short, once a brand adopts the brand archetypes approach, it can more easily establish its voice, its tone and manner (see the relevant block in our content strategy guide), but it will also guide the content team to build pillars and content series that fit the brand’s archetype.

Content will not take the same direction whether a brand adopts the Caregiver archetype or the Ruler archetype. The approach will be much different.

What is your brand’s archetype?

Have you ever used these concepts in researching the tone and manner of your brand? If so, you’ve probably seen how easily all the stakeholders involved in your content have found meaning and understanding in how to apply it in their daily lives. This is a very interesting aspect of brand archetypes: their ability to be understood and applied by all members of your content ecosystem.

One thing is sure, you will hear Toast teams discuss more and more brand archetypes in work sessions and Bootcamps with clients in the coming months.

So, what is your brand’s archetype?