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It’s All In the Personality: How To Cultivate a Brand Archetype That Fits Your Company

by Chris Joseph on 08/16/2022 | 4 Minute Read

A brand is much more than the name of a business or product—it’s an identity that defines a company's long-term goals and customer relationships. ESPN has established itself as the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” by broadcasting the world’s top athletic competitions and sparking water cooler conversations with its daily programming. Kodak built a brand synonymous with photography by capturing everlasting family memories. 

Sadly, certain businesses and industries have faced more resistance to establishing brand identities welcomed by mainstream consumers. Most notably, cannabis has had to fight against decades of misinformation regarding the plant and its use in everyday society. Even today, more than a third of Americans believe cannabis legalization will lead to higher usage among youth. Nearly a quarter of the country still refers to the plant as a “gateway drug.” 

Fortunately, the continued push for legalization has allowed more Americans the opportunity to discover cannabis’ various wellness and recreational applications. Still, 77% of non-consumers have a relatively rudimentary understanding of the plant. That's why it's critical that businesses create cannabis brands that are welcoming and trustworthy, leaving the door open for more education. 

The Importance Of Choosing a Suitable Archetype 

There are many different brand archetypes that businesses can choose from. A company like Nike may benefit from using the hero archetype that positions them as a motivator and inspiring force; Disney embraces the magician archetype because it seeks to spark its consumers' imagination and wildest dreams. 

In the world of cannabis, businesses can benefit from beginning their brand journey with the innocent archetype. In a stigmatized industry, the innocent archetype creates a brand identity rooted in optimism, happiness, honesty, and other welcoming traits. 

To properly fulfill this archetype, businesses should look at three easily identifiable aspects of their product—packaging, color, and flavor. 

Editorial photograph

You would naturally assume that consumers automatically gravitate towards extravagant, flashy packaging. On the contrary, consumers often favor more subtle distinguishing factors. A 2013 study found that products sold in packaging with curved instead of straight lines elicit a positive neurological response from consumers. Furthermore, research points to a bias against pointed shapes and angular lines. Additionally, consumers are not necessarily attracted to more eye-catching packaging colors. Instead, it can get utilized to evoke particular emotions in consumers. As it pertains to the innocent archetype, lighter colors like yellow, white, and blue are associated with happiness, trust, and tranquility, and cannabis brands can deploy them to create a welcoming persona.

Taste and flavor are also crucial in building brand recognition for emerging companies. It is beneficial for brands to pick flavors familiar to consumers and common in other aspects of life. For example, many consumers grow up eating treats with fruity flavors like raspberry, peach, strawberry, and apple; many alcoholic beverage companies find success in introducing fruit-flavored rum and vodka. By introducing nostalgic and familiar flavors, brands can bring new potential customers to the table and offer them more information about how cannabis companies are inviting.

Transitioning Into New Archetypes 

As businesses cultivate a deeper sense of customer trust and loyalty through the innocent archetype, they will eventually have the opportunity to expand their brand identity. For many companies, the next logical step would be to adopt the sage character—often distinguished by knowledge and truth. This transition process typically involves investing in tailored consumer education and creating a set of core values that determines how a company conducts itself and engages with its surrounding communities. 

In practice, a cannabis company that prides itself on inclusion and philanthropy would benefit from building partnerships and creating campaigns with groups like the NuProject or the Last Prisoner Project, organizations that aim to rebalance the socioeconomic impacts of the war on drugs by providing economic justice grants, loans, and educational opportunities. 

Similarly, a brand like Wyld prides itself on creating a sustainable industry. As a result, the company has become the only climate-neutral certified cannabis company and aligned itself with responsible farming enterprises like Mudbone Grown. 

Brand archetypes are far from new, but these techniques are underutilized within the increasingly competitive cannabis industry. Companies can strategically engage with consumers and challenge lingering industry stigmas by building inviting, responsible, empathetic, and welcoming brands based on battle-tested archetypes using qualities exemplified within innocent and sage archetypes. Once you connect with these new consumers, you can build genuine relationships. 

Shoppers remain loyal to brands that make them feel comfortable and align with their values. Furthermore, a brand will maintain success if it is self-aware enough to know when to pivot from its first archetype to the next. 

Like people, brands mature and blossom over time. Adjusting to these changes will allow a brand to hang around for the long run and keep consumers coming back for more.