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Here at Rexius Records, we are really dedicated when it comes to finding recipes for the magic sauce on how to “break artists” and take artists to the next level. We have read a lot, made a lot of experiments and been thinking a lot. One of the most powerful ways and one of the most common things an artist forget, misinterpret or don’t know about is branding.

Branding is such an ambiguous concept. It’s not math where you know when you have the right answer. Still, why are you willing to pay a premium for a Coca-Cola than a Cola with a grocery store branding? It’s not as simple as it tastes better.

Don’t misinterpret branding just as something visual like a logo. Clean and attractive aesthetics is a must for all artists, but foxy design without a personality and a voice is a good looking boat with no rudder.

As Branding nerds, the concepts of Brand Archetypes, Brand Identity and Storytelling are the most powerful tools you can use to create a strong brand that will make you stand out through the noise of other musicians. In this article we will talk about Brand Archetypes.



Brand Archetypes

Now it’s time for some storytelling basics. Why do so many films seem to have the exact same characters in them? The rugged action hero with a tortured past. The quirky romantic who can’t do anything right. The wise cop drowning his sorrows in Scotch.

Carl Jung (Swiss psychiatrist) argued that humans have a “collective unconscious” or instincts that we all share. These instincts have led to the creation of the same symbols all around the world independent of each other. Symbols such as the great mother/father, the child, the hero, devil, god, wise old man, trickster… Although, there are many archetypes, some are stronger than others.

In a world with no shortage of media stimuli, brand archetypes enable artists to pin down specific imagery and ideas that they know can make a direct impact with their audience. Archetypes are enduring, tried-and-true representations of the stories we have told ourselves for centuries, and that some would even say are entrenched in human nature. You can call them a guide for meaning.

At Rexius, we like to use these archetypes in order to create great brands for our artists.

The first thing you need to do in branding is to decide which archetype that is most applicable for you. If you identify that within your market/genre, there are a lot of other artists with the same archetype, you can consciously choose another one to diversify yourself from the rest.


Desire: Innovation
Quote: If it can be imagined, it can be created
Brand Voice: Inspirational, Daring, Provocative
Brand Message: See potential everywhere and uncover originality
Examples: Lego, Kanye West, Tony Stark
Drive: Creation, Originality, Vision, Imagination
Fear: Stagnation, Duplication, Familiarity
Strategy: Inspire to unlock imagination, encourage the pursuit of originality


Desire: Mastery
Quote: Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Brand Voice: Strength, Competence, courage
Brand Message: Be all that you can be
Examples: James Bond, Nelson Mandela, Star Wars, Superman,
Drive: Prove ones worth, exert mastery, competition, doing your duty,
Fear: Weakness, vulnerability, wimping out
Strategy: Become as strong, competent, and powerful as you are capable of being, use your strength and courage for something that makes a difference to you and the world


Desire: Power
Quote: It can happen!
Brand Voice: Charismatic, visionary
Brand Message: Make dreams come true
Examples: Merlin, Yoda, Steve Jobs, Sony
Drive: Knowledge of fundamental laws of how the world or universe works
Fear: Unanticipated negative consequences
Strategy: Develop vision and live it


Desire: Understanding
Quote: The truth will set you free
Brand Voice: Wisdom, confidence, mastery
Brand Message: Make people think
Examples: Socrates, Oprah Winfrey, Albert Einsteing, Harvard, MIT
Drive: Search for truth, understand the world
Fear: Being misled
Strategy: Seek out information and knowledge, become self reflective


Desire: Control
Quote: Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing
Brand Voice: Responsibility, leadership
Brand Message: Create order and success
Examples: Winston Churchill, Microsoft, Darth Vader, American Express
Drive: Control, creating success, being a leader, winning
Fear: Chaos, being overthrown
Strategy: Exert leadership, Take responsibility


Desire: Safety
Quote: Free to be you and me
Brand Voice: Faith, Optimism, Dreamer
Brand Message: Express positive and hopeful, simple ideas
Examples: Coca-Cola, Enya, Forrest Gump
Drive: Hapiness
Fear: Doing something wrong that will provoke punishment
Strategy: Do things right


Desire: Belonging
Quote: All men and women are created equal
Brand Voice: ordinary, humble, conversational, simple
Brand Message: Everyone matters, just as they are
Examples: Bruce Springsteen, Seinfeld, Cheers
Drive: To belong, fit in, connection with others
Fear: Standing out, being rejected
Strategy: Develop ordinary solid virtues, the common touch, blend in


Desire: Service
Quote: Love your neighbour as yourself
Brand Voice: Compassion, generosity, kind
Brand Message: Caring for and nurturing one’s dependents
Examples: Mother Theresa, Princess Diana
Drive: Protect people from harm, help others
Fear: Selfishness, ingratitude
Strategy: Do things for others, don’t tell people you care, show them you care


Desire: Intimacy
Quote: I only have eyes for you
Brand Voice: Sensual, passion, attractive, genuine, personal, honesty, vulnerability
Brand Message: Being in the experiences you love
Examples: Victoria’s Secret, Marilyn Monroe, Venus, Zorro
Drive: Intimacy, experience pleasure, passion
Fear: Being alone, unwanted, unloved, a wallflower
Strategy: Become more attractive physically, emotionally, and in every other way, commit to whom and what you love,


Desire: Enjoyment
Quote: If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution
Brand Voice: playful, funny, joking
Brand Message: Life is a game, experience life in the moment, one day at a time
Examples: Charlie Chaplin, The Joker, Pepsi, Ben and Jerry’s
Drive: To have a great time, light up the world
Fear: Boredom or being boring
Strategy: Play, make jokes, be funny


Desire: Revolution
Quote: Rules are made to be broken
Brand Voice: Disruptive, Rebellious, Combative
Brand Message You don’t have to settle for status quo. Demand more, go out and get it.
Examples: Virgin, Harley Davidsson, Diesel, Madonna, Clint Eastwood
Drive: Liberation, Change, Righteousness, Independence
Fear: Servitude, Conformity, Acceptance
Strategy: Disrupt and shock


Desire: Freedom
Quote: Don’t Fence me in
Brand Voice: Autonomy, ambition, be true to your own soul, express individuality and uniqueness
Brand Message: Experience a better more fulfilling life
Examples: Red Bull, Passenger
Drive: Hit the road, going out into nature, exploring the world
Fear: Getting trapped, conforming, nonbeing
Strategy: journey, seek out and experience new things, escape from entrapment and boredom


Using your brand archetype to tell a story

For starters, it might be helpful to think of what draws so many people from different times and places to the same kinds of stories. There are three traits common to them:

  • Timelessness
  • Timeliness
  • A psychological purpose for audiences

There have been heroes with stories that look similar to Luke Skywalker’s in every century. This is one of the trademarks of a great story: Timelessness. This alone isn’t enough, though. You need to consider what the modern version of that story is (timeliness). And last but not least, good storytelling serves a psychological function of some kind: Making people feel strong or motivated, helping them deal with fear, expressing things they wish they had in their lives, etc.

Take in mind that just because you have chosen only one archetype, that doesn’t mean only one type of story can be told about them.

One Archetype, Many Stories

Just like with archetypes, certain types of stories are told over and over, regardless of place and time. Think for example the Ugly Duckling or the Hero Journey: Almost every generation has their own version of these stories. This is what’s called Story Patterns, and they can help you figure out an inspiring story for your own archetype. Story patterns can be divided into two categories:

  • Guides: They’re based on psychological needs the audience wants to fulfil (safety, wish for adventure, growth etc).
  • Warnings: They’re based on fears of what could happen as a consequence of certain actions/traits (conformity, isolation, lack of discipline etc.).

Once you’ve come up with an archetype, reflect on the stories you’re telling through it: What kind of message do you convey through your music? Do you want to inspire people to appreciate the world and their place in it? Or is it rather about showing them they are capable of growth? If so, these are guides. If, on the other hand, you want to warn them about the problems of being a conformist, or how isolating yourself can end up in self-destruction, then you’re basing your story on warnings.

This topic goes way beyond this article, but the next step you can take is to take your favourite artists or brand as case studies and see which of these things apply to them. How do they communicate? What’s their visuals look like? This will give you a better idea of how you can come up with your own archetype and story. This will be the base for all your communications and what you represent as an artist.

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