Most of us are a mix of different personas depending on our lived experiences, says Ebony+Ivory. Picture: UNSPLASH/NATHAN DUMLAO
Most of us are a mix of different personas depending on our lived experiences, says Ebony+Ivory. Picture: UNSPLASH/NATHAN DUMLAO

People buy brands. It’s a phrase that most in our industry will have heard in some variation, at some point. Why then, does it seem that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that brands exist as identities, often with varied and hidden characteristics? It may be because the idea of translating a brand into a personality is a fairly abstract one. 

Personality types are not available in a simple one-size-fits-all package. Most of us are a mix of different personas depending on our lived experiences. 

This blurs lines and makes brand management an art rather than a science. But it doesn’t change the fact that science and predictability are highly sought after by marketers for their brands. Fortunately, significant research and study has gone into the origin of human personalities resulting in the classification of various behavioural archetypes that are an expression of our “collective unconscious” as per Carl Yung.

This gives us a framework from which to start to bring more brand science into the business world. 

Ebony+Ivory recently went through the process of identifying and defining a brand archetype for MTN’s MusicTime app — in this case the agency used Jung’s “primal archetypes” as the reference point.

Looking deeper into the process with MusicTime offers some insight into how this analysis is done and where its value lies. 

The brand archetypes. Picture: SUPPLIED/EBONY+IVORY
Brand archetypes The brand archetypes. Picture: SUPPLIED/EBONY+IVORY

As the brand already existed, the process began with extensive research on how it was being perceived. This brand had historically been defined internally and as such, the strategy team also looked at how people would like the brand to be perceived. 

Identifying the basics such as gender and age of the market is essential but building a brand using archetypes takes a lot more detail and nuance than this. Using questions such as “how does MusicTime help people?”, with possible answers ranging from “it challenges what I know about the world” to “it allows me to connect with my inner soul”, we begin to see a more complex character emerge. 

For the app it was “the entertainer” — an archetype described as: 

  • fun and living in the moment;
  • optimists who see the good in every situation;
  • young at heart and retaining some childlike nature long after their peers have grown up and become serious; and
  • feeling a duty to be a ray of sunshine in the lives of those around them.

Entertainer brands typically: 

  • give a sense of belonging;
  • help people have a good time;
  • are low or moderately priced;
  • are produced by a fun-loving company;
  • need to be differentiated from self-important, overconfident brands; and
  • allow people to be impulsive and spontaneous.

Getting to know the brand as a person with deep archetypal roots unlocks creative keys for the team not only to design a visual identity but to build a persona that people relate to and feel compelled to share experiences with.

The results of the online perception study conducted in multiple African countries rapidly was consolidated into an insightful and coherent model of the MusicTime brand personality. 

The model created a detailed reference point for all the brand’s future activities and communication, allowing consistency throughout. 

Ultimately the power of the brand archetype is rooted in having created an identity that truly resonates with consumers. This meet-and-greet analysis is the first step to creating more personal relationships with customers which are essential to building sustainable brand equity; the value of which is undeniable, and which should be part of every marketer’s toolkit. 

This article was paid for by Ebony+Ivory.

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