Game of Thrones as Brand Archetypes

Brand and Branding

Developing a strong brand requires developing a strong brand personality. Just like people, your business’s brand has a personality. This determines how customers connect with you and whether or not they want to do business with you. Rediscovering Game of Thrones characters as brand archetypes can help you understand your brand personality!

Knowing which Archetype your business is is often subjective, but help is at hand! Many people have come to have a love/hate relationship with the world of Game of Thrones. Let’s check out the brand archetypes through the attributes of our most loved (and hated) characters. Do you recognise yourself?

Here are the 12 basic archetypes that a brand can assume, according to the Seven Kingdoms:

The Ruler wants absolute power

Luxury and exclusivity – A ruler brand is a gatekeeper. Perception as high-quality and expensive is critical, so product categories that fall under this umbrella include jewellery and high-end vehicles.

Proudly lauding their influence and accomplished leadership skills, ruler archetypes have no desire to conceal their aspirations for power and control. Having worked constantly to build a superior status within their industry, ruler archetypes are confident and embody stability and trust worthiness.

American Express, Microsoft and Mercedes-Benz communicate a sense of luxury and power throughout their advertising campaigns, encouraging aspiration and celebrating affluence.

The Hero wants to prove himself

The hero makes the world better by being the best. A hero brand isn’t concerned with nurturing, it’s there to challenge you. If you want to rise to the occasion, you’re going to need a hero’s help.

The U.S. Army is the ultimate example of a hero archetype. Think of the recruitment commercials you’ve seen with troops jumping out of helicopters, running through training courses and protecting the country. Does any of that resemble your day-to-day? Of course not. It’s not supposed to. It’s designed to compel you to “answer the call.”

With a distinct desire to affect positive change, there is nothing subtle about the hero brand archetype because they believe striving to overcome difficult obstacles and inspiring others in the process. In this sense Hero brands like to shout from the rooftops about their achievements.

Airbus, Nike, and Duracell have all mastered the art of positioning themselves as authorities within their respective niches, demonstrating that their value exceeds that of their competition.

The Magician makes dreams come true

Magician brands don’t build you a better toothbrush or help you keep your house clean; they bring your wildest dreams to life. Disney is an example of a magical brand. Though it is fundamentally a media company, the company offers a transformative experience. The business sits in a category of its own because of its vision. Imagine another brand that could build the Magic Kingdom or a Disney World.

Utilising their vision and imagination, magician archetypes seek to craft new experiences, change the world and make the seemingly impossible possible. They often employ a certain level of caution, however, as they are wary of the potential unintended consequences that might result from such visionary exploration.

Magician brands include: Intel, Disney, Dyson, all of which focus on connecting with individuals and demonstrating the positive experiences their businesses deliver.

The Sage is always seeking the truth

To a sage, wisdom is the key to success. Everything else is secondary to the pursuit of knowledge. Though this brand might give you the warm and fuzzies, and they don’t enrapture you in a fantasy world like Disney, a sage commands respect by illustrating brilliance.

Oxford University is a sage. The academic environment is one of the most revered in the world, boasting an alumni list most could only dream of.

The Outlaw seeks revolution

The outlaw isn’t afraid. Where the innocent touches the part of you that loved snack time in kindergarten, the outlaw archetype appeals to the part of you that cut classes in high school.

Building a cult following like Apple is the ultimate goal of an outlaw brand. Remember those old iPod commercials where monochromatic figures had the times of their lives dancing? That ad doesn’t tell you to stand in a crowd or passively attend a concert. It tells you to be yourself, to dance whenever you like, and to do it with Apple. If you think Apple doesn’t have a cult following, consider this: Did people wait in line for hours when the Galaxy S7 was released?

Revolutionaries thrive on breaking the rules, challenging the status quo and carving their own unique path. Revolutionary brands will often produce unique content that doesn’t necessarily have an obvious ‘selling’ point.

Virgin, MTV and Harley Davidson have each cultivated a cult-like following through subverting convention and promoting independence and alternative lifestyles.

The Explorers break free

Freedom is the top priority for an explorer. Where other brands might try to help you build a home, these brands want to get you out of it.

Subaru is the classic fit for this archetype. The company doesn’t sell cars based on luxury or comfort – instead, freedom is the focus. Blizzard? No problem. Subaru lets you decide where you’re going, no matter the circumstance –You’re free.

Explorer archetypes thrive on the unfamiliar and are motivated by self-determination and freedom. Although they recognise boundaries, consistently pushing the limit is a defining feature of this enthused and determined archetype.

The Caregiver nurtures you

The caregiver is benevolent and just wants to be there for you. Caregiver brands build trust. It’s rare to see a caregiver brand run an ad that takes a shot at their competition. They are the opposite of confrontational.

Johnson & Johnson’s tagline line is “Johnson & Johnson: A Family Company.” This is bread-and-butter for the caregiver archetype.

With compassion at the forefront of their approach, caregiver archetypes seek to meet the needs of the people around them and ensure that everyone feels appreciated and safe. Caregiver brands understand that as the hard sell will always turn their audience away, making their audiences feel special is crucial to their success.

The Artist wants to create

Creator archetypes don’t follow trends, they make them. Innovative and expressive, creator brands unleash their audiences’ creativity. These brands know that their audiences are notoriously difficult to appeal to, which is why they focus on developing and nurturing a devoted and engaged fan base.

The approaches of Lego, Adobe, Canon and Apple are centred around championing the artistic and creative endeavours of their users and customers.

The Regular Guy wants to belong

This archetype is focused on providing something so far removed from pretentiousness that it can appeal to everyone. It is the most challenging archetype to pull off because you have to have a product that actually appeals across demographics.

Everyone drinks coffee. Not every human being, but every major demographic with the exception of small children. That’s what makes Folgers a great brand for everyone. Folgers doesn’t market to a hip crowd. They don’t brag about their high quality, all-organic coffee. They keep it simple: “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.” Everyone wakes up, so everyone drinks Folgers.

Maintaining an approachable and unpretentious manner, connecting with people is the primary motivation of everyman archetypes. Dedicated to creating an environment where everyone feels as though they belong, everyman archetypes are dependable, familiar and trustworthy.

McDonalds, IKEA, Asda and Carling are proud of their accessible and down-to-earth reputations and want to make each one of their customers feel like everyday heroes.

The Innocent just wants to be happy

Everything is free, virtuous and content in an innocent’s world. An innocent brand will never guilt you try to convince you excessively. Instead, an innocent brand will charm you with something more powerful: Nostalgia.

Optimistic and honest, innocent archetypes are motivated by happiness and typically detest gimmicks and heavy-handed approaches. Innocent brands demonstrate a propensity for simplicity and prefer to avoid fussy messaging that might be interpreted as deceitful.

The wholesome, calm and sincere approaches of Innocent Smoothies and Original Source are carefully shaped to appeal to their enthusiastic and mindful audiences and are prime examples of this sincere and truthful archetype.

The Jester lives in the moment

Humour, silliness, and nonsense are all in a jester’s toolkit. The goal of a jester brand is to make you smile with light-hearted fun.

Jester archetypes know that not everything has to be so serious all the time. Advocates of living in the present, they are motivated by enjoyment and despise monotony. Maintaining a playful and sometimes unusual stance, jester archetypes evoke an inspiring ‘life is too short’ mentality which implores their audience to seek fun and not take life too seriously.

The Old Spice Man is an all-time favourite ad campaign and the perfect example of a jester archetype. Some male consumers react well to hyper-masculine branding, while others don’t. By making a joke out of these super manly brands, Old Spice appeal to both sides. Other examples of jester archetypes include Skittles and

The Lover makes you theirs

Yes I know she died but finding a lover past Season 6 is tricky and incest doesn’t count. Passion, pleasure, and sensuality are keys to the lover’s heart. A lover brand wants you to associate them with the intimate moments in your life. What do you buy to celebrate? How do you indulge your significant other? Chances are, you’re buying from a lover brand.

Think of Godiva Chocolate ads. Do they ever make you think about your health, your finances or your future? No. Godiva seduces you. It shows off its richness and creaminess.

Sensual, intimate and passionate, lover archetypes are motivated by an appreciation for beauty. The brand archetypes position themselves as glamorous and their messaging often focuses closely on how their products make their customers feel both inside and out.

Versace, Victoria’s Secret and Godiva are mysterious and intriguing. People featured in their advertising are often personifications of the brands themselves and are keen to communicate to their customers that, if they buy into the brand, they too will feel loved and desired.

A super brief history of Jungian Archetypes

One of my favourite things about being a Marketeer is how your mind reacts to the world around you. Throughout my career I have developed new senses. As a designer my brain reformats every menu in a restaurant. As an information architect I judge every establishment based on their website user journey.

Once I entered this new phase of brand awareness I watched Big Brother and thought of George Orwell. I recall Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and emerge with a greater understanding of the seven Chakras of the human spirit. Hence Game of Thrones as Brand Archetypes.

To many cultures Chakras are responsible for disturbing the life energy, for one incredibly evolved gentleman called Carl Jung it was the basis of his work in Archetypes.

When thinking about some of your favourite brand narratives, you will likely begin to see similar characters in each, regardless of genre or medium. Think of the wilting detective using alcohol to drown his sorrows; the quirky romantic who just can’t do anything right; the action hero with a troubled past. You get the idea. Well, Carl Jung understood that the reason why some characters are so immediately and distinctly recognisable to us is because they are part of our shared collective unconscious.

What does this mean for your business?

Jungian archetypes play an important part in the history of psychoanalysis (whose other more famous founding father was Sigmund Freud) but have been adopted by us branding experts because they offer a shortcut to collective identity surrounding brand personality. Through the use of the Jungian model of collective social understanding, these can help both large and small businesses deftly and directly convey their purpose and/or core values in such a way as to be instantly identifiable and relatable.

Although cultural differences are important, archetypes are a powerful way of establishing a sense of consistency and cohesion between your brand, your messaging and your audience. Helping you to clearly define your brand characteristics and vision picking an archetype will anchor you to a set of personality traits ensuring that you remain faithful to your ethos and build a presence that audiences can come to expect and identify with. We hope you identified with Game of Thrones as Brand Archetypes.

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