Like a sommelier or perfumer there is a skill and art to discerning the myriad ingredients within an apparently singular brand.

Just as a sommelier tunes into the elements within a glass of wine, so we need to tune into the elements – complex emotional drivers and feelings – that lie at the heart of any piece of branded communication. RADNB (Research: Archetypes, Design, Narrative & Brands) helps you tune into these drivers and identify the elements that make up each archetype. RADNB gives you the tools to read the subtlety, the nuance, the tonal blend of emotion within a brand’s visual language. So, you can map your own brand, identify the emotional triggers brands use to influence behaviour and become an expert in archetypes.

Brands look to communicate different and often opposing aspects of themselves, such as being fun and frivolous while also being concerned about social justice. They may in one moment look to sell a product or attract the best employees. In the next encounter they may try to make you laugh or inspire you to change your life. All of these complementary, contradictory or parallel strands inevitably make their stories more complex. RADNB enables you to pull apart these layers of narrative and see which archetypes a brand uses to tell its story.

Our research shows.

  • A focus on multiple archetypes can lead to a rich brand narrative without negative outcomes such as brand dilution, weakness, or confusion.
  • A brand’s personality can be formed from a consistent blend of multiple archetypes or made from different combinations that reveal themselves over time. Just like a cake can be a single mixture made from multiple ingredients. Where the first bite tastes the same as the last, while identifying multiple flavours within each bite. Or a cake can have many different layers all of which have different ingredients, resulting in unique experiences, depending upon the order in which they are experienced by each person. In these analogies both cakes are a single item, just as both types of brands would be a single personality. The difference lies in their combinations of complexity and the way consumers experience them.
  • It is plausible that the single brand archetype argument made sense in a world where touchpoints were limited, and marketers needed to maximize the effectiveness of their messages in the few instances where they could connect with their audience. But, today, brands can tell fuller stories, and these stories are increasingly told through multiple channels and are co-created with a broad and diverse group of customers.
  • Brands evoke specific archetypes strategically and consistently in their marketing communications. Clear patterns emerge suggesting that archetypes are part of deliberate strategies to connect with customers emotionally in specific ways.
  • Brands often look for harmony in the archetypes they evoke. Some combinations of archetypes are prevalent and work particularly well together because they lead to harmonious storytelling.
  • A brand that builds a narrative involving different archetypes makes it easy for a diverse group of customers to choose what parts of that narrative is most relevant to them.
  • Some combinations of brand archetypes are so prevalent that dominant patterns have emerged within given sectors. This allows us to identify the brands that confirm and those that try to differentiate or break away from the category.

Richard Gillingwater

Founder of RADNB – a research and training tool that maps brands through the lens of 60 archetypal emotional drivers.



Thought Pieces

All News