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Battle of the Archetypes: The Lover vs. The Explorer

Competition is fierce. Your brand has to be in top shape with a consistent archetype to stay standing in the ring. The public is inundated with advertisements on every new tab opened and each scroll of their thumb, so how will you stay top of mind?

Our last blog post introduced brand archetypes; they’re the personas of a brand that fuel familiarity and brand loyalty for customers. This 6-part blog series will outline the 12 distinct archetypes, pitting them head to head in battles. Let’s get ready to rumble…

Opponent #1- The Lover

Examples: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva, Cesar, Chanel, Hallmark

Main focus: Instilling feelings of belonging, connection, intimacy

The Lover archetype represents just what you’d imagine- emotional connections and seduction. But it goes much deeper than red roses and a lacy negligee.

Esther Perel, psychotherapist, author and speaker says

“There is no greater source of joy and meaning in our lives than our relationships with others.”

Lover brands understand that humans are always seeking love and belonging and they play to that need by helping people feel connected and fostering intimate moments with others.

The easiest examples to cite are brands like Victoria’s Secret that show us overt sexuality. But take a closer look and you’ll see tons of brands using this archetype to highlight human connection.

President’s Choice uses the tagline ‘food lovers unite’, reminding us that we belong to a food-loving community despite our quirky food preferences. Lover brands aren’t limited to the companionship and friendships of humans either. A special bond is shown between a security guard and his trusty four-legged companion in this Cesar commercial, tugging at our animal-lover heartstrings and encouraging us to ‘love them back’.

This archetype’s greatest strength can also be its demise, so use it carefully. If the imagery and message isn’t on point, it can end up feeling cliche and inauthentic. Lover brands need to walk a fine line between inspiring connection and appearing too superficial. Striking this balance can be the difference between an eye roll and abandoned cart or a click to enter credit card details.

Opponent #2- The Explorer

Examples: Jeep, Red Bull, Patagonia, Kia Motors, NASA

Main focus: Seeking freedom and fulfillment through discovery

In the other corner, the Explorer archetype is poised for battle in what’s sure to be an INTENSE match-up.

In contrast to Lover brands attempts to connect us, Explorer brands speak to the restless spirit inside us that seeks adventure and a change from the everyday routine. They’re often seen as trailblazers who don’t stick to the rules. They are that one in the group who’s keen to take the leap into the unknown and risk failure, because they believe life is about the journey.

Remember the Kia Motors commercial where skiers are chauffeured up the hill (which was filmed at Silver Star Mountain in Vernon, BC) in a Kia vehicle while curious onlookers peer down from the chairlift?

This epitomizes the Explorer brand- forsaking the ordinary route and conventional rules to forge a path that creates a thrilling experience. Many car companies adopt the Explorer archetype because it aligns so well with what a car can represent to buyers: travel to unknown places, off-roading in rugged terrain, and escaping from your regular day to day life in restrictive city streets.

During the pandemic, there’s been lots of creative pivots used in the Explorer archetype category, since travelling has been limited. Jeep, another quintessential Explorer brand, released a hilarious ad featuring Bill Murray starring in a quirky spoof of the famous movie, Groundhog Day. It was a clever take on the state of the world, hinting that Jeep understood the monotony of our days and that they’d be parked and ready for adventures again when we are.

Explorer brands resist conforming with the rest of the pack, and that’s what makes them so alluring to consumers. However, it’s also where they can alienate some buyers - not everyone has the confidence to stand outside the mainstream. This archetype knows its client base is a very specific group of people, and they use their bold statements to appeal to that niche.

So, who came out on top? Was it the Lover that seduced you, or the Explorer that got your heart racing? Check back next week for our next title match-up,

The Rebel vs The Ruler.

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