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Archetype Fueled Branding 101: Imagining a Better World With the Innocent

Updated on June 13, 2014

The Twelve Character Archetypes

Find out more about how tap into the power of archetypal forms to build or strengthen your brand.

The Innocent

The Warrior

The Caregiver

The Seeker

The Lover

The Destroyer

The Creator

The Ruler

The Magician

The Sage

The Jester

The Optimist

Eternally optimistic Innocent-based brands convince us that perfection (or at least, a better life) is always attainable. The key words here are: the future, the past, cleanliness or purity.

The feeling of "good vibes" that we get from the Innocent naturally plays into the act of buying. Think of the typical suburban mall, for example. Malls are basically artificial, highly controlled and optimized environments that are designed to make us buy more stuff. Malls are similar to casinos in that they try to trap us in a heavenly world that's full of bright lights and pleasantly cool air conditioning. Typically, entering a mall area involves rising toward bright lights via an escalator. You may also encounter fake waterfalls, glass elevators, and little pools where you can toss in a penny and make a wish. All this stuff is expensive, but retailers are still willing to pay extra money to set up shop there. In other words, merchants are willing to pay extra money to be surrounded by the Innocent archetype.

When we make a major purchase we assume that we are bettering ourselves, even if it's only in a small way. A major indicator of the health of the economy is consumer confidence, which is essentially a measurement of exactly how optimistic people feel about the future. When people feel that they are on the way up, they are more eager to spend their cash. If your personal brand can make people feel hopeful, then people will be more willing to invest in your skills and abilities or buy into whatever else you have to offer.

Even governments and countries use archetypes to "sell" what they stand for. "Brand America" for example is primarily built around the Innocent and the Seeker. In the US, we like to feel like ours is the country that stands up for truth, justice and freedom. We always think that better days are ahead of us, and we get excited about all the great things that we might find when we go exploring. In the country's early years, the promise of starting a new life on the frontier lured many young people westward.

"Go West, Young Man!"

People from around the world who buy into brand America immigrate to the United States to seek out a fresh start.

If you are good at inspiring people and creating "good vibes," you might opt to focus your brand image around the Innocent archetype. In a world where many people feel that life is growing increasingly hectic and complex, images that convey a relaxed, peaceful attitude or a promising future can be a strong attractor for anyone who is feeling stressed out.

The Young and the Old

Successful brands that make use of the Innocent archetype often use nostalgia or the promise of good times ahead to attract people to the product. The Innocent archetype has a wide appeal, but it is especially effective in appealing to the emotions of young people and old people. In general young people tend to look ahead and imagine new Utopian possibilities, whereas old people enjoy looking back into the past and experiencing nostalgic feelings.

Snuggles the Bear

1. Snuggles

The Snuggles fabric softener marketing campaign uses its obscenely cute "Snuggles the Bear" mascot to recall the purity and innocence of childhood.

Use cute images of fuzzy animals to appeal to those in need of happy thoughts.

2. Febreze

The Febreze ad above shows bottles of Febreze contained in a crate which is floating around in what looks like a tropical ocean. The bottles are brightly colored and surrounded by flowers. The implication is that fresh island air is contained in every bottle of Febreze.

Use images of an island paradise to help stressed out individuals imagine a fantasy of taking a relaxing vacation or experiencing pleasant weather.

Pep Vitamins can transform your wife into a perfect little robot.
Pep Vitamins can transform your wife into a perfect little robot. | Source

3. Pep Vitamins

This now-ridiculous ad seems funny to us today because our cultural ideas about husband/wife roles have become more flexible. We're no longer locked into the rigid ideas about nuclear families and white houses with picket fences. Still, the blatant out-of-datedness of the ad makes the presence of the Innocent archetype stand out even more-- so it's a good example.

The Pep Vitamins ad shows that a wife can become "the perfect wife" when she eats Pep Vitamins. The technique of hinting that perfection is possible or utopia is just around the corner is a classic Innocent branding technique. In the future everything will be perfect, if only you make your wife pop a Pep vitamin, or if you take fifteen minutes out of your day to work out with a shake weight, or if you spend $19.95 on the latest Jane Fonda workout video, etc, etc.

Pep Vitamins is implying that after ingesting some vitamins, your wife will look cuter and will have all the energy she needs to clean up around the house. Though our values have changed, the same technique (the promise of Utopia) is still used to sell things today.

Convey the message that you or your product can help anyone attain what everyone is striving to be or to earn.


4. Diet Pepsi

An ad from Pepsi features a slender high-cheekbone endowed model sipping from a slender can. The elegant looking woman is also wearing fashionable makeup and an expensive looking blue hat. The implication here is that you too can elevate your status, live a high class life and look like a model simply by switching to diet soda. Recent studies have shown that diet soda really doesn't help anyone lose weight, but that doesn't stop the ad from being emotionally effective.

Using imagery and language to imply that there are easy ways to achieve perfection will get the attention of those who are struggling hard (spending long hours on the treadmill, for example) to achieve their goals.

A flag-draped can of bud.
A flag-draped can of bud. | Source

5. Budweiser

Pretty much every nation thinks of itself as "the best," but in America we are absolutely sure that we rock. We're the land of the free and the home of the brave, a model for democracy everywhere, the defenders of truth and justice around the world and so on.

The people who designed this Budweiser can were obviously trying to make us feel all the idealistic values and concepts that Americans tend to associate with America, and link those concepts to a can of their product. So many brands tap into the power of red white and blue for one simple reason: this tactic works.

Include your country's colors or other nostalgic, nationalistic elements in your brand image if you want to use the optimistic nature of the Innocent to attract people to your brand.

If you wear Shiseido, you too can look like an airbrushed computer graphic.
If you wear Shiseido, you too can look like an airbrushed computer graphic. | Source

6. Shisedo

Shisedo's ad features a close-up (probably airbrushed) image of celebrity Angelina Jolie. Jolie is highly idealized in this photo due to the fact that there are no visible imperfections on her face. Another key factor in this Innocent style ad is that the background is completely white. White is often associated with the heavenly, idealistic scenarios that the Innocent encourages us to believe are possible.

Make heavy use of the color white when conjuring the fantasy of an ideal situation or person in the mind of your audience.

More about the twelve character archetypes and how they manifest in pop culture and human personality: Rulers, Sages and Jesters: the Twelve Character Archetypes

The Twelve Archetypes

  • Keeping It Real With the Orphan - Use the highly attractive idea that we are all created equal to give your brand some Orphan-esque egalitarian appeal.
  • Exploring New Worlds With the Seeker - If you are in the business of helping others experience new things or travel to exotic locations, spice up your brand with some Seeker zaniness.
  • Tangoing With the Lover - Reveal hidden truths or work sexuality into your brand to harness the magnetic power of the Lover.
  • Channelling the Magician - Use the Magician archetype to fascinate an enthralled audience-- or make them reconsider everything they think they know.
  • Partying With the Jester - Take the edge off of your brand and create a fun atmosphere by clowning it up a little with the Jester archetype.


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