Brand archetypes used to be expressed through packaging, communications and websites. But the touchpoints for brands are increasing; through visual social media such as Instagram, businesses are finding that they need new ways to keep their brands engaging and consistent to have a strong and distinctive personality.
Using archetypes is one of the strongest methods of building your brand’s personality, but visualising this through Instagram content can be difficult as people can see your brand aesthetic at a glance. If it is even slightly fragmented, they are inclined to find your brand personality inauthentic. But some brands are totally owning their Instagram archetypes, expressing their distinct voice in culture and building an authentic visual style.
Missguided – The Lover/Jester
The sassy but sexy, provocative stance from Missguided gives its Instagram a strong Jester personality, with photos that are easily shared and passed on. The brand then combines this humorous take with bright, bold visuals of in-your-face placards and sensuous, intimate beauty shots to show off their Lover side. By creating shareable content that users want to ‘regram’ and share with others, brands can extend their reach far beyond the remit of their follower count.
The National Trust – The Explorer/Sage
The symmetrical, curated visuals of The National Trust clearly displays its Sage archetype, whilst the more adventurous, outdoor shots play to its Explorer side. Thoughtful and considered, the balanced beauty in The National Trust’s posts never becomes inaccessible and always invites followers to explore with it. Brands with an intelligent side should use Instagram as a way of including people in the conversation rather than excluding them.
Nike – The Hero/Ruler
The inherent power and control in Nike’s visuals makes the brand a strong Ruler, with photos that convey the strength of every athlete. The celebration of hard work and success make Nike a clear hero, with successes and failures shared in equal measure; designed to inspire belief and commitment amongst the casual follower. Increasingly, people are looking to Instagram for inspiration and motivation, especially in the fitness space. Brands can play a strong role here by telling a story of success through their visuals.
Rifle Paper Company – The Creator/Innocent
The sweet playfulness of this stationery company’s Instagram feed shows off its Innocent side, with an optimistic, child-like wonder. But it also shows off its Creator credentials, with imaginative, creative photos that play to followers that want to be inspired and visually stimulated. People are now looking beyond being shown the latest products from their favourite brands, they are seeking creative inspiration and stimulus from the accounts they choose to follow.
All of these brands have a strong visual presence on Instagram that is driven by archetype personality rather than product placement. People are increasingly looking to Instagram, and by extension the brands that use the tool, for visual inspiration and stimulation in all aspects of their life. The brands with the most followers on Instagram are those that are able to build a strong visual style, build a strong connection to their archetype and keep their followers interested and surprised with new and innovative content.
Hannah Robbins is part of the Kantar Added Value cultural insight team in the UK.
Image: Rifle Paper Company tattoo