Back to Posts

The Meaning of Marketing: The 12 Archetypes, Pt. 4

Written By Lindsay Isler

February 7, 2020

So far this week, we have walked through the first nine archetypal identities outlined in The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes. If you’re just joining the conversation, be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Now we will dive into the final three archetypes: the Caregiver, Creator, and Ruler. Their core motivation is to provide stability and order to the chaotic world around them. The ways in which they go about establishing structure and exerting control, however, vary widely.  

The Caregiver

Credit: Campbell’s

The Caregiver promotes stability by caring for others via “empathy, communication, consistency, and trust.” Caregiver brands market direct care (such as Blue Cross Blue Shield) or services and products which equip customers with the capacity and resources to take care of others (or the self). These brands might tout a home-cooked meal (think Stouffer’s) or the provision of a comfortable, safe place to stay (think Marriott).

Campbell’s markets from the Caregiver perspective, singling out their soups for the sense of home and comfort that they evoke and cultivate. Buy a few cans of Campbell’s soup, stash ‘em in your pantry for a reliable meal source, and “taste the comfort.” By painting pictures of home life and nurturing relationships, Campbell’s ads tug on the familiar. Combining nostalgia with a proactive desire to provide, Campbell’s embodies the Caregiver archetypal identity. 

The Creator

Credit: The Fred Rogers Company

The Creator invites order into the world through artistic self-expression. These brands create reservoirs of meaning by crafting narratives and patterns or by supporting beauty and innovation. Brands that exhibit the Creator identity promote ways to recreate and explore the self, such as make-up, paint, or home goods. This can also take the form of spaces carved out specifically for the individual like gyms and schools.

When a brand embodies the Creator archetype, we get innovative and brilliant work, such as “Sesame Street” or “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Fred Rogers created his successful kid’s TV series in response to an opportunity he foresaw. What if the nascent television could become a conduit of education and values for children? He set about working on a show which would combine art and values with play and imagination. The result was a beloved, unique show sticking in the hearts and minds of its viewers across generations. 

The Ruler

Credit: American Express

In response to the surrounding disorder, the Ruler archetype takes up roles of power and leadership. At its best, the Ruler brand sets admirable standards for the rest of the brands in its category. These organizations inspire people to reach towards success and importance, or at least gird them with the tools to achieve such values.

American Express markets their cards as keys to distinction; whenever you use your American Express card, you will feel and be treated like royalty. Their company mission to “become essential to our customers by providing differentiated products and services to help them achieve their aspirations” encourages the Ruler-type hopes and dreams of customers. Want to exert control on the world and explore untapped potential? Use American Express. 

Now that you better understand what the different brand archetypes are all about, it’s time to discern the archetypal identity of your own brand. In our next installment, we will explore how you can determine your brand’s archetype.