Something is wrong in the world and it needs challenging. Pushing back upon. Overturning. Rebelling against. Leading these revolutions are the archetypal rebel. Filled with purpose. Keen to disrupt. The rebel as enduring value to anyone unsatisfied with the circumstance they find themselves in. This post is all about the rebel archetype and how it can be powerfully adopted as a persona for a brand.
Archetypes are recognisable patterns of human behaviour which are often amplified in stories. In turn, stories are the way we make sense of the world around us. For those involved in the discipline of 'managing meaning' (e.g. storytelling/creative design/branding) archetypes become a powerful tool. They help teams build extraordinary meaning and create remarkable creative work because archetypes enable communication on a deep psychological level. More on the power of archetypes here.
In this post we will review the Hero brand archetype building on the work of Margret Mark and Carol S Pearson in their book "The Hero and the Outlaw". In that work they call the Rebel archetype the 'Outlaw'.
An introduction to the Rebel Archetype
Seeking revenge or revolution the Rebel is all about changing existing systems. In order to overturn what is not working they will disrupt the norm. Destroying what is not working. Breaking all the rules. Their greatest fear is powerlessness or being viewed as inconsequential and so they strive to make an impact in everything they do. They are against the status-quo and are catalysts for change.
Styles of rebel change - one the one hand we have the virtuous rebels like Robin Hood or Princes Leah in Star Wars. These rebels have deep values which they are true to. Then on the other end of the spectrum we have immoral rebels. Mobsters, pirates and cowboys. In stories, the rebel always brings some tension to the plot which is attractive. We like the risk. We like people having a cause - especially if that cause is ours.
Goal: to change or destroy what is not working
Greatest Fear: being powerless
Strategy: disrupt, destroy or shock
Vulnerability: overstepping the mark
Motto: "Rules are meant to be broken"
Examples in brands
Harley Davidson is a classic rebel brand
Examples of brands which embody the Hero Archetype can be found on my specially curated Pinterest board here. Note: I will be frequently updating this board as I come across new Hero images so bookmark it!
Brands which embody the Hero: Dr Martins, Apple, Harley Davison, American Apparel, Anonymous, Jack Daniels, Vans.
The Rebel sits in the quadrant of archetypes which serve the customer motivation of 'Mastery & Esteem'. It appeals to those who want to overcome an obstacle in their way.