Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Branding and Gilligan's Island

There are at least 12 different archetypes  used for characters in stories. I've read articles discussing how to use these archetypes to help personify brands. Doing this helps distinguish a company from others, and gives them the ability to set their tone, style, and voice accordingly. It also establishes a direction for the brand's visual design language.

But this got me thinking about some of the TV shows I've watched as a kid. How were these archetypes used for characters in these shows? Turns out these are used a lot to develop interactions between characters and move a plot along. So, I took one of my favorites (but silly) shows and decided to see how these characters personify certain brands I'm familiar with.

Here's a little experiment based on some research I've done on brand personification using Gilligan's Island .

Archetypes from Gilligan's Island:


He's the comic relief; always gets into trouble; breaks the rules; fun-loving; but has a heart of gold
(MailChimp; Dollar Shave Club; Ben and Jerry's)

Ginger (the glamorous actress)

She likes being the center of attention; she's smart and is good looking; she likes to dazzle
(Apple; Beats by Dre; Disney)

Mary Ann

The friendly girl-next-door; eager to help; she's easy to talk to; gets things done
(Best Buy; Walmart; eBay)

Mr. Howell

Man of great means; eccentric; knows how to build and protect wealth; prudent and careful
(American Express; T. Rowe Price; Bank of America)

Mrs. Howell

She has expensive tastes; loves the finer things in life; willing to pay more to get (and be) the very best
(Mercedes; Ralph Lauren; Gucci)


Very smart and knows it; offers wisdom and advice to others; always willing to teach
(PBS; Khan Academy; NASA)


Strong and paternal figure; street-smart; extrovert; willing to work hard
("Built Ford Tough"; Home Depot; LifeLock)

This can be a great jumping off point when thinking about your brand or a client's brand. You can take one or two to help you describe your brand. For example, you might see your brand as a mix between Gilligan and Mary Ann, because your brand is quirky but dependable.

Knowing what you want your brand to project helps you know what type of audience you want to attract. And attracting them is influenced by what you say, how you say it, and what you look like.

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