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Archetype Fueled Branding 101: Wiping the Slate Clean With the Destroyer

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 Orphan

The Warrior

The Caregiver

The Seeker

The Lover

The Destroyer

The Creator

The Ruler

The Magician

The Sage

The Jester

So Bad, Yet Oh-So-Good

Death. Destruction. Rebellion. Disease. Sometimes whatever is grown has to be ripped out by the roots and turned into fertilizer. The Destroyer archetype is complex, and sometimes surfaces in disturbing ways in the human psyche as well as in music and film. However, when it comes to advertising, the Destroyer is usually channeled by appealing to our love of all things that are "badass." Just as we are strangely addicted to and yet horrified by our own destructive habits, both men and women alike are at once drawn in and repelled by imagery, language or concepts that invite us to break the rules.

Not Just Electric Guitars and Chopper Motorcycles

The Destroyer archetype is stereotypically associated with beer, bandanas and tattoos-- but the Destroyer is more than that. Anybody can break the rules, and anyone from any walk of life can channel the Destroyer in their brand image.

Breaking the rules is totally different than breaking the law. You don't need to do time in jail to prove your Destroyer credibility. Some of the most restraining and annoying rules are the unwritten ones. Destroyer brands are actually healthy for society when they encourage us to toss aside stupid norms, regulations and values so that we can then create new ones that make more sense.

Escape From Repression

Destroyer brands help us act the way we want to act, even if others may not approve. Like Seeker brands that encourage us to be weird and different in a "I dance to the beat of my own drum" type of way, Destroyer brands also tell us that it's okay to buck the trend. The difference is that where Seeker brands are non-confrontational, Destroyer brands encourage us to go out and actively pick a fight with society. Destroyer-based ads are very appealing to adolescents who are learning how to think for themselves. Many young people seek to (either temporarily or permanently) destroy what their parents have taught them in order to find their own way in life and discover new things about themselves.

Straight to the point.
Straight to the point. | Source

1. The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay is a popular website that facilitates the illegal exchange of copyrighted material on the Internet. The site made headlines in 2009 when its founders were sentenced to a year in prison and fined millions of dollars for violating copyright law. Still, the site still stands. People who defend Pirate Bay believe strongly that everything on the Internet should be free. Whatever you believe, it's hard to deny the outlaw appeal of their logo-- a pirate ship that seems to be in the middle of navigating a turbulent sea. Instead of a skull, an analogue tape with crossbones underneath is used to convey the message: just about any copyright protected media you want to download is up for grabs here.

If what you do pushes the edge of what is considered to be legal, use images associated with outlaws of the past to make your intentions clear and to channel the Destroyer's energy.

2. Mike Huckabee's "Chuck Norris Approved" Ad

Everyone knows that the political world is full of back room deals, tangled bureaucracies, influential political action committee groups and above all-- compromise. The process of getting anything done is (by design) a long and cumbersome process. So, the idea that a straight-shooting, take-no-prisoners style politician will roll into Washington, D.C. and use karate chops to cut through the red tape to get things moving is highly appealing idea. In this ad from the 2012 presidential election, Norris vouches for Huckabee and says that the candidate will put the IRS "out of business." The idea that Huckabee would really get rid of the IRS is absurd of course, because a government can't function without having some money to spend. Still, that doesn't change that fact that many people would enjoy seeing the IRS get shut down.

Appeal to the Destroyer in your audience by presenting yourself as being direct, forceful and willing to do what is right-- even if that means cracking a few heads together in the process.

The Devil's Own Hot Sauce
The Devil's Own Hot Sauce | Source

3. Devil's Own Hot Sauce

Many brands that are selling experiences or products that might induce either fear or a little bit of pain (as is the case with hot sauce) try to tap into the Destroyer. The image above shows a devilish looking figure stirring a pot. Inside the pot we see a mushroom cloud that looks something like a nuclear bomb blast.

In addition to spicy foods, tobacco and alcohol related products we also see Destroyer-related imagery around adrenaline-pumping rides at amusement parks. Destroyer imagery taps into our natural fear of death, so any brand that is selling a real or apparent life-threatening experience or product can use the power of the Destroyer to increase its intensity and appeal.

Use Destroyer related imagery when selling a dangerous (or apparently dangerous) product or service to tap into your audience's occasional (and natural) need for a little bit of self-destruction.

An in-your-face tampon ad
An in-your-face tampon ad | Source

4. U by Kotex

This tampon ad from Kotex has some classic Destroyer elements. The Destroyer is the element that comes into play when we see an idea or law that the rest of society sees as being right, but that we know is wrong. In this ad, Kotex is asking us to help destroy the embarrassment around the use of tampons. The key thing here that makes this ad a Destroyer ad and not a Seeker ad is that the woman throws the embarrassment around tampons into the face of society (metaphorically represented by the woman's brother). It's a clever way to sell a tampon when you think about it. The tone of the ad is rebellious, but still in line with the current "it's not a big deal, nobody cares" attitude that seems to permeate popular culture right now. Also, anyone who has had to stand in line holding a box of tampons while others smirk and stare would relate to this type of advert, and might feel like they are making a difference by buying a Kotex tampon.

Position your brand in direct opposition to ignorance or narrow-minded strains of thought in society to channel the Destroyer attitude.

5. Visit Las Vegas ad "Take Back Your Summer"

It was no accident that in 2011, Destroyer-related ads were everywhere. When the Occupy movement went mainstream, advertisers immediately (and correctly) sensed that the Destroyer was taking hold of our public imagination. Some thought that these type of ads belittled or made light of the actual movement that was happening, but the ad spots still appealed to the public because the concept of of ordinary people demanding social justice was in vogue at the time. In this Las Vegas TV spot that channels both the Orphan and the Destroyer, we see a somewhat frumpy looking "average Jane" style office worker standing up on her cubicle desk to demand that she be allowed to use her vacation days.

Position your brand so that it opposes (or seems to oppose) the "powers-that-be" to evoke both the Orphan and the Destroyer.

6. Best Bedrooms / Oak Factory "Going Out of Business Sale" ad

Your brand doesn't have to embody the Destroyer to channel its energy. The Destroyer can also be evoked indirectly. "Going out of business" style adverts unlock your target audience's inner pirate by inviting them to take advantage of you.

Businesses that are shutting down must sell their inventory before their lease runs out. This particular local furniture store ad features a somewhat incompetent looking, obese guy who is literally begging everyone to take advantage of the fact that his furniture businesses are closing down.

Ironically, going out of business is often a profitable business model. Some amount of profit is often made during a going out of business sale, and those profits are sometimes used to keep the business open another month-- or even purchase new inventory. Things go on like this for years, which is why it can often seem like some types of businesses are perpetually "going out of business."

Play the role of a helpless victim to tap into the plundering, take-no-prisoners spirit of the Destroyer that lurks inside of your target 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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