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Brand Strategy OS: Think like a brand builder
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Persona

Create or edit your brand persona
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Lesson
In the first two sections of this guide, you figured out who you are, who you are trying to reach and how best to position yourself within a crowded market. Now, it’s time to take all these insights and use them to breathe life into your brand, so that you can build authentic relationships with consumers.
In order to do that, let’s turn to the work of visionary psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his concept of “archetypes.” Jung believed human personality consists of a mix of universal archetypes, which are rooted in the collective subconscious and help to explain our innate desires and behavioral patterns.
This theory has had enormous influence on the worlds of literature, popular culture and advertising. We are going to make use of it, as well, defining a unique “archetypal mix” for your brand. First, though, we need to learn a bit more about these ideas.
The 12 Archetypes
Jung’s framework identifies 12 universal archetypes. These are grouped into 4 sections based on their fundamental orientation toward life. I’ve given details on all 12 archetypes, grouped together by their cardinal orientations, below.
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Exploring Spirituality
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Innocent
Description
Like a young child, the Innocent is bright, open-minded, happy, and generally full of positivity. They notice the good in the world, even if others sometimes struggle to see the light. Known for being kind, trusting, and unpretentious, they fear punishment and need validation. The dark side of their sunny outlook is that their naivety makes them too trusting. The Innocent lights up a room and makes people feel welcome without even trying.
Desire
Safety
Sage
Description
The Sage puts a premium on learning, using their methodical and objective nature to understand the world. You can often find them bettering themselves reading books, taking classes, or debating a concept. This archetype always seeks to find the truth by using their sharp mind to sift through the noise. Their main fear is being misled or realizing that they are ignorant of a topic. Since the Sage lives in their head, they frequently get stuck overthinking. Sometimes they’re all study and no action, but generally, their wisdom and intelligence shines through.
Desire
Understanding
Explorer
Description
The Explorer blazes their own trail, always with the intention of going where no one has gone before. These independent self-starters don’t conform to traditional notions of life, preferring to go their own way. They hope to improve the world with their discoveries but have a nagging fear of being penned in by an unfulfilling life. Sometimes their desire to fight conformity can make them more of a misfit or outcast than an adventurer. Though they may look like they wander aimlessly, more often than not, they inspire a sense of wonder because of their autonomy, ambition, and authenticity.
Desire
Freedom
Leaving Legacy
3
Rebel
Description
The Rebel isn’t afraid to be radically different when they see the opportunity to change the world for the better, even if such change is uncomfortable. These passionate idealists can come across as jarring when they set their mind to a cause. They aren’t afraid of tearing down the current system in order to create a better one. Ultimately, the Rebel fears being powerless because it keeps them from fulfilling their vision of progress. Sometimes they go too far, having a tendency to slip towards darkness—after all a “freedom fighter” to one person can be a “terrorist” to another. At their core, the Rebel wants to overturn what they see as wrong in favor of something more promising.
Desire
Liberation
Magician
Description
The Magician is a big dreamer that has an uncanny knack for turning their flights of fancy into charming realities. Their charisma and unique point of view frequently allow them to do the impossible. This archetype creates magic in order to better understand the universe they live in. The Magician fears that, in using their powers, they might inadvertently create negative consequences. Sometimes dallying with the unknown can cause a disaster, making them seek to manipulate things in order to fulfill their vision. Though they can face darkness, the Magician usually has the skill to unearth win-win solutions.
Desire
Power
Hero
Description
The Hero is always willing to fight— metaphorically or literally—for the underdog. Their strength, bravery, boldness, and discipline means they often become champions of those weaker than themselves. Their willingness to dig in and work when things get hard inspires those around them. Always aiming to prove their prowess, the Hero abhors being weak, vulnerable, or cowardly. Sometimes they overcompensate for any shortcomings by becoming dictatorial or seeking out a fight. But at their core, Heroes will prove their worth through courageous acts and mastery that improves the world.
Desire
Mastery
Creating Order
3
Caretaker
Description
The Caregiver loves to act as a mentor or guide, supporting and defending those around them. Usually consistent, trustworthy, and responsive, this archetype is a shoulder to lean on in times of trouble. They’ll protect and care for anyone that falls into their circle. Since the Caregiver wants to be of service to others, they fear being selfish or ungrateful. Such fears often lead them to be exploited by people, becoming a martyr to the needs of others. Overall the compassion and generosity of this archetype makes them well loved.
Desire
Service
Ruler
Description
The Ruler is an authority figure that isn’t afraid to take control. Politically savvy, well-connected, and a natural leader, this archetype understands how people and power function. They use their talent for leadership to create prosperity by exerting their control. The orderly ruler has a nagging fear of chaos or being overthrown by their “subjects,” which, at it’s worst, can lead them to become quite controlling and tyrannical. Under usual circumstances, the Ruler leads responsibly and uses their talents to improve their dominion.
Desire
Control
Creator
Description
The Creator takes on many forms like writer, designer, musician, inventor, engineer, or architect. They have a knack for bringing order to chaos through beauty, functionality, or both. This archetype is intensely creative and quite persuasive. Always on the hunt for excellent solutions to the world’s disorder, the Creator worries that their ideas or creations will end up being mediocre rather than great. Their perfectionism and fear of coming up with a poor solution can paralyze them at times. At their best, the Creator marries creativity, imagination, and inventiveness into a harmonious combination.
Desire
Innovation
Connecting to Others
3
Lover
Description
The Lover delights in intimacy, sensuality, and emotion. They achieve their goal of connection by elevating simple moments, like a walk in the garden, into delightful experiences. This archetype thrives when their life is in harmony and naturally avoids conflicts. Lovers excel in pairs and fear ending up alone because they are unwanted or unloved. This desperation to have a partner can lead them to become people-pleasers or lose themselves in relationships. At their best, they bring passion, commitment, and gratitude to all their relationships
Desire
Intimacy
Jester
Description
The Jester usually acts as the life of the party, using their playfulness to brighten others’ days. Unafraid to be innovative or outspoken, this archetype lives in the moment, often using their humor to conquer the hearts and minds of others. Sometimes the Jester’s joy hides an inner sadness, as they find themselves bored by normalcy and fear they will bore others. This can lead them to waste their lives, losing themselves in frivolity. Their main aim is to liven up the world by spreading joy.
Desire
Enjoyment
Everyman
Description
The Everyman comforts others by virtue of their authenticity, honesty, and hardworking nature. They’re happy to support and collaborate with others because of their belief that all people should have equal rights and opportunities. This archetype’s deep need to belong can leave them anxious that they’ll be left out or stand out from the crowd. Sometimes they’d prefer to lose their individuality in order to fit in, making them cynical about others’ uniqueness. Generally, you’ll find they’re open, honest people full of grit and empathy.
Desire
Belonging
Our Persona
Now that you understand what the different archetypes are, you can set to work defining your own archetypal mix.
You should do so thoughtfully. Brands often try to cherry pick characteristics from several different archetypes when building their persona. This is a bad idea, as it dilutes your focus and confuses your audience. You should select just one primary and one secondary archetype to build a strong, focused persona.
You might ask how to go about selecting the right archetypes. As with all elements of your brand strategy, the decision should not be arbitrary. Instead, you should start by considering the core desires of your target audience and then, based on this, consider what role your brand can play in their journey.
When discussing archetypes, I try to focus less on associations and more on the motivation of each archetype and how they relate to our audience, their fears and aspirations. Another way to think about it: You are the matchmaker trying to match your audience with the right archetype. In order to do that, you need to understand what motivates your audience, what motivates each archetype and the nature of the relationship between the two.
Give it a try. Select your primary and secondary archetypes below, and assign a percentage of your persona to each.
📝 Exercise 1

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