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Who Do You Think You Are? Brand Archetypes, Our Collective Unconscious, and the Drive to Buy

Monday, February 27, 2017

In the early twentieth century, Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, composed a model of the human psyche, consisting of three distinctive parts: ego, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious. The ego, pertaining to self-identity, our sense of awareness and

existence. The personal unconscious houses repressed emotions retained from the past and untapped future potential. Personal unconsciousness can be thought of as the things we intuit yet do not think of in any organized, cognizant fashion. And then, there is Jung’s theory of the “collective unconscious”—an idea that all human beings share suppressed memories from the same ancestral, evolutionary past. Collective unconsciousness accounts for some of the seemingly inexplicable experiential states which many of us occasionally pass through—like love at first sight, déjà vu, or an acute fear of spiders. Within the collective unconscious, Jung believed that four main archetypes dwell (persona, shadow, anima/animus, self) and offer insight into various unlearned functions of the human psyche.

From Jung’s archetypes, branding and marketing experts developed a set of twelve. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • The Innocent: Happy, good, pure, moral, romantic, simple, loyal, youthful, optimistic. Represents brands with strong values, who are considered trustworthy, honest and dependable.

  • The Girl/Guy Next Door: Belongs to the mainstream, easily connects with others, down to earth, supportive, neighborly. Represents brands that appeal to an everyday, simple yet virtuous consumer.

  • The Hero: Wants to make the world a better place. Daring, courageous, inspiring, confident. Represents brands that inspire, solve big issues, and help others do the same.

  • The Outlaw: Anti-authority, disruptive, rebellious, wild, breaks rules and lives according to their own. Paves the way for change. Represents brands that advocate for transformation and for rights of the disenfranchised.

  • The Explorer: Interested in new experiences and discoveries. Ambitious, adventurous, independent, free-spirited. Represents brands whose culture consists of excitement, risk, and authenticity.

  • The Creator: Builds something from scratch, sells products or services that offer significant meaning, long-lasting value, and mentorship. Visionary, imaginative, entrepreneurial, non-confirmative. Represents innovative brands that make big ideas and broad possibility their number one aim.

  • The Ruler: Creates order and maintains control. Projects qualities of leadership, responsibility, organization. A role model. Represents brands that create security and stability in an otherwise chaotic world.

  • The Magician: Brings dreams to life, creates special and one-of-a-kind experiences. Charismatic, idealistic, spiritual, imaginative. Represents brands that want to transform their client’s lives, promote philosophical beliefs, and expand ideology for the sake of the greater good.

  • The Lover: Creates environments of intimacy and love. Sensual, passionate, romantic, idealistic, committed. Represents brands that increase the consumer’s feeling of connectedness, enjoyment, appreciation, and relationship.

  • The Caregiver: Cares for and protects others. Nurturing, selfless, generous, compassionate and empathetic. Represents brands that are focused on personal wellness, public service, education and aid.

  • The Jester: Promotes happiness on a large, sweeping scale. Fun, humorous, playful, irreverent, rascally, cheeky, impulsive, spontaneous. Represents brands that like to have a good time and encourage their consumers to have fun too.

  • The Sage: Offers the world added insight, introspection, and wisdom. Trusted, intelligent, knowledgeable, mentor, advisor. For brands that provide practical, analytical services that help the consumer better understand a concept or idea.

Long gone are the days when businesses were marketed by fact and figure alone. Research estimates that today’s consumer makes up to 90% of all purchases subconsciously. Knowing this, we marketers must take extra care in telling comprehensive, illustrative stories which speak to the buyer’s senses, their emotional experience, showing them exactly who you are as a brand entity.

Feature primary characters built upon the universal truths of these Jungian-based archetypes and let your buyer know, in no uncertain terms, that your brand understands well, who they are, what they believe in, what they care about, and how your values align. Do this, and watch first-time-buyers become lifelong brand advocates. Do this, and see how your brand moves conversation forward.

So now, tell me, just who do you think you are?


Veronika Sprinkel was born into this world with ten fingers, ten toes, and a twinkle in her wide precocious eyes. She is the Founder of Veronika Sprinkel Ink., a Boulder-based brand storytelling and copywriting boutique. VSI clientele includes The Kitchen, Atomic20, Colorado Haiti Project, Boulderganic Magazine, Clean Eating magazine, and countless others looking to accelerate professional growth through effective narrative messaging. Veronika is a graduate of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship’s Ideas2Action bootcamp and the Interlochen Arts Academy. She is a One World Summit Contributor and holds a donor subsidized Artist’s Membership at MCA Denver. Veronika’s blog, The World According To Veronika Sprinkel, is read widely across six continents. In spare time, Veronika works on fine art photography projects, studies old-world natural wine production, takes long, deliberate bike rides and strolls around Boulder with Pablo, her beloved, formerly-stray New Mexican rescue hound. Check out her LinkedIn profile here and her website here.
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Great post. commented on 21-Jul-2017 11:55 PM
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Dalton Cordano commented on 07-Mar-2018 06:14 AM
Feast of Love

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