Transcend Logic with Tourism Brand Archetypes
Updated: Jul 20
Too many small tourism operators compete superficially with rivals over pricing and benefits. Archetypes transcend logic and appeal directly to emotions, which is why they are so powerful.
When you reach customers through emotions, the connections are stronger and deeper. In a tough market this can be a powerful way to differentiate your business from the rest.
Connecting with Travellers
There’s solid science backing up the use of archetypes. Extensive advertising research has confirmed that many purchasing decisions are based on feelings rather than logic – this is certain for the dreaming and planning traveller.
Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman claims that an astounding 95% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. It follows that brands which draw on the science of archetypes to appeal to the subconscious mind have a major advantage.
Finding Your Personality Using Archetypes
To hone your brand’s personality, you need to know your customers intimately. With a solid understanding of who your target audience are and what they want you are in a position to choose the right brand archetype to appeal to them.
Travel brands will use the archetype your market aspires to, rather than what they represent in everyday living. For example, an adventure tourism company targeting groups of middle-aged white collar workers who want to escape the nine-to-five life would adopt the aspirational Explorer archetype rather than the Everyman archetype these customers already embody.
Your archetype provides the foundation on which to build your brand story. It gives you a central character to bring this story to life and helps you create a unique voice for your business.
Archetypes are more than a few traits. They are fully developed personalities with opinions and worldviews which allow brands to make connections with real people.
When you align closely to one archetype, your brand will feel authentic and consistent. This engages customers and creates a sense of recognition.
Why Archetypes Work
The reason archetypes are effective is because stories are in our DNA. Psychoanalysts believe archetypes come from the collective unconscious. They are used in stories to explore universal themes such as triumph, faith and transformation.
When someone tells a compelling story to another person, both party’s brainwaves ‘tune in’ to each other. This is the kind of connection you want your customer to feel for your brand. Choosing a brand personality based on the twelve archetypes can help you achieve this.
Choosing Multiple Archetypes
It is possible your brand personality may be a combination of two archetypes. When identifying with two archetype personalities it’s essential you recognise which one will be at your core or central personality and which one will be supporting. For example a food tour company may be a softer side of the Explorer, so they mix some Caregiver
The 12 Archetypes
This character is a revolutionary who hates injustice but also enjoys a bit of anarchy for its own sake. The Outlaw shuns rules and despises conformity, valuing freedom above all else.
Outlaws are angry about what they see as society’s hypocrisy and they also have their own demons to battle. They live for the fight and weakness is their greatest fear. Examples in popular culture include Ned Kelly, Malcolm X and Robin Hood.
The Outlaw responds emotionally to brands that are edgy and anti-establishment. People who identify with this archetype need to feel like they are outside the mainstream. Harley-Davidson is a brand which makes excellent use of this personality.
In the travel industry, the Outlaw is ideal for adventure and endurance tourism operators. Anything exciting with some element of risk will appeal to this group.
Brand Voice: Defiant, Revolutionary, Non-conformist
Drive: Freedom, Transformation, Justice, Vengeance, Autonomy
Fear: Enslavement, Conformism, Self-righteousness, Submission, Reliance
Strategy: Use of shock value. Appeals are strength and independence.
The Magician is all about transformation. The focus is on dreams coming true and the journey from chrysalis to butterfly.
Like the Hero, the Magician rejects conventional thinking, but this character has a more optimistic view of life. Rather than fighting against an unjust society, they are convinced that love and belief can heal the world. Disney has built its empire on this archetype.
The Magician desires magical moments which are a catalyst for growth and change. This character appeals to people with an interest in alternative spirituality as well as those who want a rejuvenating holiday. There is wide scope for using this archetype in the tourism industry from wellness retreats and ecotourism to couple’s getaways.
Brand Voice: Innocent, Enchanting, Transformative
Drive: Change, Understanding, Imagination, Faith, Discovery
Fear: Stasis, Inaction, Intolerance, Suspicion, Insecurity
Strategy: Portray life as a magical journey. Focus on transformation.
The Hero is motivated to prove themselves through feats of endurance and courage. They have a need to take on challenges that are difficult and rewarding.
This archetype wants to do good and save the day, but they also enjoy public recognition for their achievements. Nike uses the Hero archetype to convey the sense of triumph which can only come through stamina and hard work.
Tourism companies that focus on outdoor adventures and give participants the chance to test their mettle are very appealing to the Hero.
Brand Voice: Courageous, Sincere, Strong
Drive: Command, Valour, Progress, Advancement, Security
Fear: Ineptitude, Fear, Decline, Defeat, Weakness
Strategy: Promote continuous improvement. Stress overcoming obstacles and doubters.
The Lover archetype is about desire and pleasure. Intimacy and sensuality are valued highly, and passion is the dominant emotion.
The Lover needs beauty and luxury to please their sensual nature. Alfa Romeo has created a brand image that evokes the sleek sexiness of this archetype.
The Lover is ideal for brands that want to project an image of indulgence and pleasure. In the tourism industry, this can apply to romantic getaways, luxury holidays and high-end accommodation.
Brand Voice: Seductive, Luxurious, Exclusive
Drive: Sultriness, Intimacy, Extravagance, Love, Passion
Fear: Abandonment, Loneliness, Seclusion, Invisibility, Disdain
Strategy: Affirm beauty and sensuality. Highlight exclusivity.
The Jester is the class clown who likes to make everyone laugh and lives in the moment. This personality values having fun more than anything else.
A true optimist, the Jester is always positive and has child-like innocence that allows them to see good in everything. Their inability to be serious is their greatest weakness.
This is a great archetype for brands which are targeted at young and carefree customers who want to enjoy life to its fullest. Bright colours, laughter and sunshine are perfect for this brand image.
Brand Voice: Carefree, Mischievous, Enthusiastic
Drive: Joy, Delight, Mirth, Closeness, Confidence
Fear: Tedium, Misery, Sorrow, Solitude, Pessimism
Strategy: Paint a picture of fun and laughter. Create sense of carefree good times
The Everyman’s goal is to belong. This personality enjoys feeling like part of a group because they don’t have a burning desire to stand out or make their mark.
While friendly, the Everyman doesn’t leave a lasting impression because there are no major passions which define their character. Security is the highest goal and being an outsider is this archetype’s worst fear.
The Everyman archetype can be used to target those who aspire to escape ordinary life through more appealing archetypes. It can also work for businesses offering budget packages and simple, family-friendly accommodation.
Brand Voice: Unassuming, Agreeable, Genuine
Drive: Relationships, Friendship, Egalitarianism, Community, Inclusiveness
Fear: Rejection, Alienation, Segregation, Antagonism, Disconnection
Strategy: Affirm conventional values. Offer sense of community and belonging.
The Caregiver is a protective and selfless personality whose main goal is to take care of those in need. This character wants to look after others and help them in whatever way possible.
This archetype is used mainly by health services and humanitarian organisations like UNICEF. The personality is warm and reassuring, offering comfort and safety.
Caregivers in the tourism industry may be in the conservation space, giving back to community and planet, caring for our flora and fauna.
Brand Voice: Kind, Gentle, Comforting
Drive: Assistance, Warmth, Serving, Appreciation, Thankfulness
Fear: Anxiety, Vulnerability, Ungratefulness, Inattention, Criticism
Strategy: Promote selfless caring. Honour sacrifice for the greater good.
The Ruler is motivated by power and control. This personality desires stability, prosperity and success.
The Ruler has very high standards for themselves and others. They will aggressively defend their interests but are generous to those who show loyalty. Hugo Boss has used this archetype to create an image of masculine luxury and success for its brand.
The Ruler archetype attracts customers who already see themselves as winners and those who aspire to this lifestyle. Tourism companies that offer V.I.P clubs, high-end accommodation and exclusive experiences can benefit from this archetype.
Brand Voice: Powerful, Intelligent, Sophisticated
Drive: Strength, Wealth, Prestige, Accomplishment, Influence
Fear: Powerlessness, Poverty, Hardship, Defeat, Irrelevance
Strategy: Validate leadership and authority. Focus on luxury and rewards.
The Creator wants to bring something new and unique into the world through the imagination. Their greatest desire is to leave behind an enduring legacy. Self-expression is the prime motivation.
The biggest fear of the Creator is that will never attain perfection in their art. This quest can cause them to be extremely hard on themselves.
Tourism operators which centre their business around creative pursuits such as painting, sculpture or writing can make good use this archetype.
Brand Voice: Inspiring, Bold, Innovative
Drive: Creativity, Ingenuity, Expression, Imagination, Enthusiasm
Fear: Inertia, Repetition, Monotony, Dissatisfaction, Apathy
Strategy: Celebrate the creative force. Inspire the imagination.
The Innocent has a bright personality with a positive view of the world. What they desire most for themselves and others is authenticity.
This archetype doesn’t tend to hold grudges because they are honest and pure of heart. They like things to be simple and straight-forward. The Innocent sees beauty in unusual places.
Trust is essential for this personality which represents values such as honesty, openness and loyalty. It’s ideal for promoting health and wellness, eco-tourism, slow travel and minimalist getaways.
Brand Voice: Sincere, Unpretentious, Positive
Drive: Cheerfulness, Integrity, Modesty, Authenticity, Optimism
Fear: Sorrow, Corruption, Difficulty, Dishonesty, Cynicism
Strategy: Affirm simple pleasures. Create wholesome, joyful tone.
The Sage is in search of truth and wisdom. Sages want to both understand the world and share their understanding with others. This personality is happiest when engaged in philosophical conversations.
The best way to appeal to this archetype is by using interesting facts to capture their attention. They like to weigh everything up and consider all angles before making a decision.
The Sage is attracted to quality and enticed by promises of deep conversations in beautiful settings, accompanied by good wine and food. This archetype has potential for a range of tourism businesses who seek to part knowledge, wisdom and educate.
Brand Voice: Educated, Confident, Curious
Drive: Insight, Intellect, Skill, Evidence, Impact
Fear: Foolishness, Irrationality, Helplessness, Distortion, Imprecision
Strategy: Appeal to the love of wisdom. Celebrate knowledge and learning.
The Explorer wants to break new ground and rise to challenges. They thrive outdoors in rugged terrain where they can demonstrate bravery and endurance.
While similar to the Hero, this personality is less concerned with public recognition. It’s more about the journey than the destination.
The Explorer is a great archetype for the tourism industry because it embodies the sense of adventure that inspires many people to take holidays. It’s a highly aspirational archetype with widespread appeal for many demographics. Blend a supporting archetype to soften and shape the Explorer.
Brand Voice: Brave, Adventurous, Energising
Drive: Quest, Discovery, Curiosity, Self-knowledge, Independence
Fear: Captivity, Inactivity, Entrapment, Complacency, Cowardice
Strategy: Emphasize challenges and victories. Validate the desire to break free.
Archetypes can give your brand depth and authenticity by reaching customers on a deep emotional level.