(Still need to read our quick introduction to the 12 core brand archetypes? check it out here)
“He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command” Niccolo Machiavelli
Do you still remember your first ever day at school? All the new sights and sounds, the impossibly big numbers of other children, the new rules? And do you remember the figure at the head of it whose word was law and who could keep control over it all with apparently no effort? I still feel a compulsive urge to do my top button up just thinking about THE LOOK my headmistress could give. Her word was law, and even at that early age you knew it.
If your school was anything like mine, then casting your mind back to your first headteacher should give you a good feeling for the Ruler archetype.
The Ruler is the headteacher, the monarch, the boss and the President. They are top banana. Ruler brands are infused with a sense of wealth and success.
There’s more to Ruler brands than just being expensive, dominant or luxurious though; pure luxury in a brand would tend to tip it into Lover Archetype territory, which we’ll discuss in a future instalment. A successful ruler - picture that headteacher - embodies responsibility and stability as well as power and control.
The Ruler at a Glance
Mission: To rule over a prosperous, orderly system. To gain power and control.
Values: Power. Confidence. High status.
Personality attributes: Confident. Commanding. Powerful. Dominant.
Brands: Rolex. Louis Vuitton. Mercedes. Mont Blanc. American Express. British Airways.
Characters: Follow the link to our Pinterest Board of Ruler characters from TV, film and literature.
How can we express our Ruler identity?
1) Authoritative, confident verbs and adjectives.
2) Refined language, minimal sentences.
3) The use of emblems, prestige symbols and A-list ambassadors.
4) Limited availability and exclusivity; the need to earn it.
How have other brands expressed this archetype?
Rolex have dominated the marketplace for high-end timepieces for well over a century, becoming synonymous with prosperity and power.
They recently provided a beautiful example of their Ruler identity in action whilst discussing social media policy with digital media website Mashable. "Creating buzz is not the intent….We craft our content thoughtfully, privilege quality over quantity, talk only when we have something to say and when we feel it’s right."
This ethos of quality and careful crafting has been fundamental to Rolex for many decades. Their iconic 1960s alliance with the world-changing Concorde emphasizes the similarity in technical prowess and build perfection between their watches and the aircraft: “it took three years to build the first Concorde and it takes over a year to build every Rolex Oyster Perpetual".
There are elements of the Hero archetype (which we covered in our last post) at play here too, with Rolex explaining that “the Pan Am pilots who will fly the concorde are rigorously demanding about the performance of their watch.”
This was not the first time Rolex used an allegiance with a heroic figure, they began doing so in 1927 with Mercedes Gleitze, the first woman to swim the channel, and continued to use explorers, sportsmen and scientists as ambassadors.
If these pin-ups of daring do are so particular about what goes on their wrist, the aspiring consumer should follow suit. Even if they don’t have any real need for half of the capabilities of the watch, (telling the time in two zones at once, being able to withstand all sorts of extreme weather conditions and so on) there is an implication that by owning one they have similar qualities to those who do.
Thus Rolex are enabling their customers to express a combination of the Ruler and Hero identities for themselves- that they are the sort of person who might need to plunge into the North Sea or to be asked the time in Reykjavik at a moment’s notice. The reliability, a key Ruler quality, of their Rolex makes them a leading, authoritative figure.
This element of Rolex lending authority to its wearers is brought out in an interesting GQ interview with rapper Nas.
The relationship between hip hop and luxury is well-documented, but it is the Ruler identity of the brand which clearly resonates with Nas rather than merely viewing the watch as jewellery.
As he says, “I remember being proud to hang out with somebody who had a super grown up’s watch on. We [both] walked with more maturity and confidence, even though I didn’t have one on my arm, he did.”
Not sure if your brand is a Ruler? Don’t forget that your brand is probably a mix of two or three archetypes. We’re going to be exploring all of them over the next few weeks. So do please sign up on the right and we’ll be sure to keep you updated. Not just on Archetypes but other creative ways to bottle your brilliance and build your brand.