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Archetype Fueled Branding 101: Helping Others Succeed With the Caregiver Brand (examples inside)

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 Caregiver

Finding Meaning in Helping Others

Caregiver branding tactics work well for companies whose purpose is to serve. The Caregiver archetype itself is stereotypically female and is usually associated with maternal social roles (nurses, mothers, teachers, etc.) but traditional male roles can also channel the Caregiver-- the "Mr. Fix It" type, for example, is a Caregiver. Caregivers can also make exceptional leaders especially in situations where there are no external threats. Organizations that use the Caregiver archetype include food manufacturers, health care providers, liberal-oriented political groups and professional handyman services.


Like the Orphan archetype, the Caregiver is a powerful but double-sided archetype. On the one hand, we are drawn to the Caregiver because it assures us that someone is taking care of us. On the other hand, we are sometimes put off if a Caregiver is overly controlling. Teens and adolescents may be repelled if the Caregiver is presented to them in a certain way, so care and subtlety is needed if one wishes to avoid repelling instead of attracting certain demographics to your personal brand if the Caregiver archetype is incorporated into it.

 "Got Milk?" with Rebecca Romijn
"Got Milk?" with Rebecca Romijn | Source


1. Got Milk?

The "Got Milk?" campaign sometimes makes use of Caregiver imagery to convince us that milk is a healthy substance and to subconsciously remind us that mothers give milk to their children via breastfeeding. Since it's natural, milk must be good for you. This ad makes us temporarily forget the fact that non-organic milk is usually pumped with weird hormones and other non-natural preservatives.

The above ad featuring a smiling Rebecca Romijn and her children evokes both the Innocent and the Caregiver. The Innocent message is: if Rebecca Romijn seems like she's in good shape and is having fun being a mom, mothers everywhere can take care of their children and stay fit without becoming stressed out. The Caregiver message is also clear: milk will help take care of the nutritional needs of the whole family.

To evoke the Caretaker, showcase that whatever you have to offer can help satisfy the needs of the entire family.

Kid tested, mother approved
Kid tested, mother approved | Source

2. KiX Cereal

The KiX brand has been using the Caregiver archetype to sell cereal since 1978. The slogan introduced in that year was "Kid tested, mother approved." The slogan suggests that KiX is playing the role of mother so that actual mothers don't have to worry about whether the cereal is healthy or not. How this "approval" process works is never explained-- is there some strange committee of mothers at General Mills headquarters that clicks their tongues and wags their fingers if a cereal doesn't meet their requirements?

There's no way to know for certain what "mother approved" means, based solely on the information in the ad. Still, the commercial works because it makes us believe that KiX is at the very least aware that mothers want to feed their children a cereal that is good for them.

If you provide services to mothers, use the Caregiver archetype to acknowledge that you are aware of their concerns and worries.

3. Procter & Gamble

In this moving TV ad that combines the Warrior archetype with the Caregiver, we are presented with several intensely moving scenes of mothers helping their children achieve victory at the Olympic games. This is probably one of the most moving Caregiver ads that you can find on the web because it gets right to the heart of the most appealing aspects of the Caregiver. It's an ad that pushes all the right buttons. (Don't be surprised if a tear or two pops out of your eyeball and rolls down your cheek if you watch it.)

The ad works well because it catches us off-guard. Athletes are usually portrayed as possessing individual drive and determination, but here we see their mothers helping them every step of the way. Shifting our focus to the mothers of our Warrior athletes is a dramatic change in perspective that helps us appreciate not only Olympic mothers, but all mothers in general.

Interestingly, at the end of the ad P&G slides in a somewhat dubious claim that the company somehow "sponsors" mothers. While it's true that P&G makes products that mothers use, it's not like they give them away for free. However, because the tie-in appears right after a series of tear jerking scenes of mothers guiding their children to victory, our immediate impulse is to accept the concept that P&G cares for mothers everywhere in the same way that Olympic mothers care for their children.

Like working class people, mothers are starved for appreciation. Use the Caregiver archetype to give mothers credit for all of their hard work.

4. Cascade

Cascade's "Mother Knows Best" ad starts off with a motherly looking actress stating that she thinks that "kids today need to learn responsibility." In the next scene, however, we see a few children messing around in the kitchen and apparently acting a little naughty. Still, the kids are manage to wash the dishes effectively-- all thanks to Cascade.

With this ad, Cascade strikes a good balance between being a responsible Caregiver and allowing for the freedom to goof off. A straight-laced ad where a mother praises her well-behaved children and closes with a product pitch might have worked in the "children should be seen and not heard" age of the 1950s, but today mothers and children alike would perceive an ad like that as being overly stuffy.

When applying the Caregiver to your personal brand, incorporate some Jester elements into your approach to avoid coming off as overly controlling or stifling.

5. Subaru

In the past, fathers were seen as the providers and raising the children was the mother's responsibility. The nuclear family stereotypical father was always away at work, earning money while the mother stayed home to raise the children. For years, advertisers tried to flatter stay-at-home mothers by making dads seem dumb and clueless in domestic situations. Now that situation is changing, because more males are looking after the children and taking on domestic responsibilities. This recent ad from Suburu highlights how advertisers are increasingly portraying men in Caregiver roles. The ad first makes us believe that this is yet another "bumbling dad" ad, and misleads us into thinking that the child has tricked the stupid father into giving up the keys to his car. Then, we suddenly realize that the child is actually all grown up and the dad is just being overprotective. The implication here, of course, is that the man's daughter is perfectly safe because she's driving a Suburu car.

Present the Caregiver in a new way by showing men performing parental tasks (such as worrying about the children, changing diapers, etc.) that are usually associated with mothers.

6. Transamerica

In this ad, Transamerica is portraying itself as a cradle-to-the-grave Caregiver. The message here is that Transamerica is there when you get a raise, when you get a divorce, when you start a business, when you retire, etc. Interestingly, the ad does not feature the Transamerica logo or name-- it lets the people do the talking. This stays true to the personality of the archetypal Caregiver, who selflessly chooses to remain in the background and help everyone else succeed.

The irony here is that any bank doesn't actually play a very large role in many of the things the people are doing in the ad (such as getting a raise or a divorce). Yet, Transamerica goes ahead and takes credit for helping out with these life events, too. Strangely, we hardly notice that Transamerica is trying to give itself credit for everything because the focus of the ad is not on the bank itself.

The Caregiver archetype won't make people uncomfortable if the actual Caregiver isn't seen. If you use the Caregiver, direct attention toward those who you help and be invisible.

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

  • 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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