Let me start this story by first clarifying the title a bit. There really are no truly opposite archetypes. However, there are motivations that relate directly to specific archetypes which are the reasons that people gravitate toward one or the other in certain situations, and often, these can be very polarizing, if not opposites. This article is the first in a two-part set that explores how brands in the same category position themselves in the market and more importantly in consumer's minds in ways that are naturally distinct and meaningful.

Archetypes and the Jungian motivation framework they inhabit are the most effective system for the management of meaning and the development of brand character. As displayed in the graphic below, Jungian archetypal motivational theory focuses on four major human drives positioned along two axes: Belonging vs. Individualism and Order vs. Change.

Wheel of Jungian Archetypes

These poles represent profound human urges, natural to all of us, and yet they pull us in opposite directions. Daily life requires a constant navigation of this framework; we naturally seek to maintain balance, however, dramatic or repeated suppression in any area will motivate us to seek greater expression in that area. Often, it is brands that provide an outlet for this expression. I consistently get blank stares when I articulate this premise in meetings and workshops, so I've developed several case studies to help illustrate the concept.

Most every market is dominated by brands that clearly and consistently represent the essential meaning of their category and the specific value of their offering using archetypal strategy. All of the brands depicted on the Archetype Frame above, arguably, do a good job of consistently reinforcing their archetypal motivations and characterizations.

In addition to motivation, archetypes also provide many practical benefits in the modern, complex and fast-moving marketing ecosystem. I've found, through extensive application to more than 50 brands, that one of the most valuable benefits is a shared definition between client, agency and other partners. Archetypes provide a universal foundation on which to build brand character and personality while also providing a simple system to help guide and regulate brand communications, assess partnerships and other marketing opportunities. Importantly, they also clearly identify the characters and motivations we wish to avoid in order to maintain a consistent personality - this type of consistent personality in action is what builds and maintains the trust connection between the brand and its audience. The best part about all of this is that it's already in the consumer's mind. It's just a part of being human so there's no teaching necessary and no learning needed, only intentional, consistent and honest action.

Arch-Archetype Example: DUNKIN’ | STARBUCKS

Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts brands isolated on Wheel of Jungian ArchetypesOne of the most fascinating archetypal brand competitions in the US market is that between the titanic coffee brands of Starbucks and Dunkin'.

Both brands participate in multiple categories (restaurant, cpg, etc.) and both have extremely loyal, perhaps even fanatical audiences. Both are best-in-class marketers as well as product and service innovators. Both compete directly against each other as restaurants, at grocery and convenience retail and yet neither truly have any practicable competitive advantages against the other. Both maintain unique positions in the market place and, indeed, culturally (at least in the United States) both inspire and motivate legions of fans. Let's explore this cultural positioning further by examining the archetypal characteristics of each brand.

When an individual is drawn to the Everyman archetype, the person may outwardly display solidarity with the average working Joe by wearing work clothes, team jerseys or urban street wear. They will often prefer "plain speak" and reject any but the most colloquial ways of speaking. This archetype rejects "airs" that at put on by elitists, including brands.

This is the motivational attraction that Dunkin’ goes to market with so well. Their tagline speaks volumes: America Runs on Dunkin’ equates their product to fuel, a far cry from the coffee flavors, origins stories and sophistication that is extolled by Starbucks.

The Dunkin’ brand taps into this powerful reservoir of meaning in a category that is largely dominated by brands that are highly individualistic or egocentric in nature: brands driving elitist messages about complexity of flavor profiles and knowledge of preparation, global understanding of origin, climates, etc.

Dunkin' Donuts advertisement speaks directly to the core values held by the Everyman.

Take a look at this advertisement from Dunkin'. This ad speaks directly to the core values held by the Everyman - the people that go to work everyday and make this country work. This is a flag which the everyman in all of us can rally around.

The Everyman archetype is the fundamental archetype of democracy and by designing U.S. currency into the creative expression the brand semiotically cues equity that is deeply engrained in our national psyche. The first American President, George Washington, pictured on the coin, evokes this core meaning which is written into the Declaration of Independence - i.e., all men are created equal.

Here are a few of the more compelling features of this ad:

  1. Everyman is the essential archetype of democracy and thus of the USA. One person, one vote.
  2. Donuts are a common type of breakfast food; essentially the working man's pastry.
  3. Colloquial language like "see ya" appeals to those motivated by this archetype.
  4. Common cause. The concept that "times are tough" is an everyman concept that is a shared tension of the working class.
  5. The ad differentiates Dunkin' in a positive way from a higher priced or more elitist competitors.

A brand that displays empathy for this value system is creating a powerful emotional connection, but a brand that acts on it, as displayed in the ad above, is channeling pure Everyman attraction.

This motivation is so innate and so compelling that it has even been co-opted by conservative fans of the Dunkin' brand to express their feelings about what they perceive to be biased liberal media. In the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the one candidate that effectively channeled everyman motivations successfully was Donald Trump. It doesn't matter that he's very wealthy and was born into a life of privilege - what mattered was how the intended audience perceived him, his values and his actions.

Dunkin' Donuts ad used as meme

While I was grateful to stumble upon this cultural artifact in a random Google image search, I was not in the least surprised to see that it was Dunkin' and not Starbucks whose messaging had been co-opted.

In the next entry on this topic, we'll discuss the distinctly different archetypal way that Starbucks positions itself and why it works so well for them.