(Need to read our introduction to the 12 core brand archetypes? It’s here)
What sort of image does the word ‘magician’ conjure (pun very much intended) up for you? Perhaps it’s a Wizard in a cape and pointy hat, with a long white beard, a Dumbledore or Merlin type. Or is it a man with a wand, pulling a white rabbit from a hat? Is it a shaman, chanting incantations, or a witch on a broomstick with a black cat and an alarming collection of facial warts?
It’s much less likely, however, that you think of a scientist in white coat and goggles, or an engineer, developer or programmer who wears no costume at all for us to pick them out by. However, they are just as much a part of the archetype of the Magician as the more overtly supernatural figures.
This is due to a key drive of this archetype, namely their desire to understand the fundamental laws of the universe. Magicians seek to understand how things work, and as a result, change lives for the better. They position themselves as the gateway to ultimate knowledge and enlightenment. Alternate names such as the Inventor and the Alchemist bring out this element more strongly, and help us to see that it is not an archetype solely concerned with mystical experiences.
In developing his ground-breaking bagless vacuum cleaner, James Dyson sought to solve the problem of clogging by harnessing centrifugal force rather than a conventional bag and filter system. To put it in more magical terms, he employed a method that uses a force of nature to invisibly remove dirt from air.
Over five thousand prototypes later (an obvious parallel can be drawn with the alchemist of lore’s many false starts and dead ends whilst slaving to make gold from lead), the Dyson was ready to change the world of vacuuming.
Whilst Dyson’s cheeky ‘We Suck’ advertising does not use brand positioning to emphasise their magical credentials, concentrating instead on a mix of Jester and Rebel identities, there is no doubt that the story of the brand’s development provides us with a superb example of the mission of this archetype.
Another strand of the Magician identity is the power of transformation- hence some other alternate names, the Transformer and the Catalyst- making ideas into reality in a way that can seem supernatural. It is often identified as a brand personality for brands who offer life-changing and improving experiences or products and industries such as coaching and training.
The Magician Summed Up
Mission: To know how the fundamental laws of the universe and how the world works.
Values: Vision. Transformation. Innovation.
Brand examples: iPod. Xbox. MAC make-up. Red Bull. Dyson. Polaroid.
Characters: Follow the link to our Pinterest Board of Magician characters from TV, film and literature.
How Can We Express our Magician Identity?
1) Be expansive and articulate.
2)Invent new methodology and share your processes to empower others…
3)…but don’t be afraid to retain a little mystique and keep your audience curious.
How have other brands expressed this archetype?
Cosmetics brand MAC enjoys a seriously devoted following, with eager fans snapping up limited edition collections within minutes. The brand was born out of make-up artist and photographer Frank Toskan’s need for a broader range of make-up that could stand up to the bright lights of photography. It is this superior understanding of colour, fulfilling the mission of the Magician to understand the fundamental ‘way of things’, which is key to MAC’s success.
Their brand positioning as ‘The Ultimate Colour Authority’, using their supernatural mastery of the spectrum of colours, is a key selling point in a market where other make-up was merely skincare. A range of eyeshadows with over 140 different shades, all of which are able to last longer, brighter and stronger than others, provide wearers with a truly transformative make-up experience.
Click here to see just a few of those colours, and here for MAC’s ‘Nail Transformations’ advert.
The original energy drink, Red Bull immediately identified itself as a magic potion with its ‘gives you wings’ slogan and campaign, showing the product imbuing consumers with the ability to rise above the crowds. (Click here to see one of the original ads.)
Not sure if your brand is a Magician? Don’t forget that your brand is probably a mix of two or three archetypes. We’ve been exploring them over the past few weeks, and there’s more to come still. 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.