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Episode 69: Marketing the Explorer Archetype

Brand Archetypes
Brand Archetypes
Episode 69: Marketing the Explorer Archetype

We’re gonna channel our inner Sacagawea today.  It’s all about The Explorer archetype. I know it’s a little like saying out loud which of your kids you like the best … but, if you were to ask me, “which is your favorite archetype, Kevin?”, I’d have to put The Explorer way high on that list.

And, it’s a good thing there are two of us … because this archetype not only has two sub-archetypes (like most of the archetypes), they are also, in Kevin’s humble opinion, the ones that are the most different from each other.  This makes for a lot of flavors of marketing and provides for a lot of options/opportunities while still staying within brand.

The first sub-archetype is named the same as the parent archetype, and is called “The Explorer Sub-Archetype”

    • This sub-archetype taps into the physical exploration of the world OR the exploration of new ideas and experiences.
    • So, if you want your audience to experience something new or to feel like they’re going to experience something special, this sub-archetype might be right for you.

The second sub-archetype we call “The Butler.”

    • This one might be good for you if your goal is to make your customers feel:
      • Either like they’re being pampered and being served
      • You want them to have the idea that your product/service is not only awesome but that they deserve it … despite the cost or anything else.
      • We find a lot of high-end niche products/services taking this approach.
      • For example, if you find your way to the Explorer page, you’ll see references to Gucci, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, etc.

For “The Explorer sub-archetype”, you should think about and clearly define the new experience you want your audience to feel.  Here are some tips:

    • Be Specific:  The more detailed you are in formulating this idea, the more powerful and focused it will be.
      • For example, if you want your audience to feel the thrill of the great outdoors, SHOW them the great outdoors! Talk about the experiences they’ll have.  Talk about the life-changing moments they’ll walk away with. You’ll need to be super creative in shifting their mind, at the moment, away from their ho-hum existence, to the amazing things they will see and do!
      • Of course, your approach will be different if your specific focus-idea is different:  Freedom, Happiness, Excitement, Fulfillment, Connectedness, etc.
    • Tap Into Powerful Ideas:  Let’s compare two commercials. One for “off-road vehicle #1” and the other for “Off-road vehicle #2”.  The first commercial shows two dudes jetting across a rocky peak in one scene, approaching the edge of a 1000 foot dropoff, while in the next scene, they’re mud-bogging and completely covered top-to-bottom.   The second commercial for vehicle #2 (catering to soccer Moms) shows a Mom dropping off her kids at the local school. It talks about the spaciousness of the vehicle and the MPGs.
    • While there’s nothing wrong with the idea of catering to soccer Moms, it’s a little too “motherly” and quite a bit off-brand for an Explorer.

The second sub-archetype, The Butler, does require, to some degree, that you have a product or a service that is either already perceived as being on the high-end of quality, OR there’s some seriously compelling feature or benefit that is worthy of consideration.  Once you have that, you can start tapping into The Butler.  Here are the tips:

    • Truly Understand Your Target Audience Motivation:  Let’s say you have a product that’s 20% more expensive than the competition but is more efficient and works faster.  You could tap into the trigger of saving time!  Go big with this.  Some people value time more than anything else in their lives (me being one of them).  
    • Focus on the Differentiation:  While your product/service might be extremely similar to your competitors, you should almost exclusively focus on the differences. 
    • Being Special:  If you adopt this sub-archetype, your target audience should not only feel super special when they think about (or use) your product, they should even feel DEPRIVED if they’re not able to access it.  All your messaging should zero in on having them think that they really, truly DESERVE your product.  “Yes, it’s a bit of a luxury.  Yes, it’s a bit more expensive.  Yes, I’m feeling a little guilty.  BUT DANG IT, I DESERVE THIS!!!”

Marketing the Explorer Archetype with Words

Here comes some advice on words! (SURPRISE)

Marketing 101 tells us that we should focus on the needs of our target audience, NOT on our own features/benefits.  Well, this advice applies here more than ever.  The messaging from a successful Explorer brand should NEVER be about you, your product, your features, your benefits, or your company,  It’s ALL about the customer’s needs, wants and desires.

    • Pick words that inspire: 
      • Authentic
      • Elite
      • Breathtaking
      • Exceptional 
    • Pick words that take you to far-off places: 
      • Adventurous
      • Discover
      • Experience
      • Explore
      • Exclusive 
    • Pick words that are exciting: 
      • Daring
      • Dashing
      • Deluxe
      • Glittering
    • Similarly, pick words that are energetic: 
      • Dominant
      • Extraordinary 
      • Grandeur 
      • Incredible
    • Pick words and phrases that reinforce the idea that they “deserve” your product:
      • Well-deserved
      • Acclaimed
      • Long time coming
      • You’ve arrived
      • Finally!

Marketing the Explorer Archetype with Visuals

With your visuals, you’re going to take a similar approach in NOT showing the features/benefits of the product/service, but show real people really using your product. OR, equally powerful, is to show them experiencing something completely different and amazing.  Let’s do a little brainstorming Amy.  Let’s use our typical Explorer brand product, Starbucks Coffee, and let’s come up with a commercial that uses visuals. (We’re NOT going to just settle for showing people drinking and enjoying coffee.) Picture a line of people waiting for their coffee.  As each person takes their first sip, we can see the kind of coffee each person ordered:  For each idea, we need to come up with a powerful visual.  I’ll start;

    • Ok, the first person ordered an Iced Frappuccino.  As she takes a sip, her brain flashes an image.  We see her face, now framed in a fur-lined parka. As we pan away, we see she’s standing on a beautiful glacier peak with blue/white snow in a field in front of a snow-capped mountain peak.  
    • You next: The customer ordered a Pumpkin Spiced Latte: (The person is in a soft, fuzzy sweater, relaxing by a fire, with their feet up in cozy socks)
    • Next, up, the customer orders a Venti Coffee with a Double shot of Espresso – His brain flashes and we see him trying to hold his coffee while he’s trying to control the Formula One racer that he’s driving.  As he successfully gets the cup through the helmet opening to his lips, we switch views to see him blasting across the finish line with the checkered flag waving frantically.
    • It just dawned on me that taking this approach — a series of little vignettes — also reinforces the already established idea that you get exactly what YOU want at Starbucks.  Why? Because you deserve it!

If you’re building an Explorer Brand, you will find a huge amount of power in storytelling. I think the examples we just gave were each little mini-stories all on their own.

And, just to be clear, the visuals you pick and the stories you tell DON’T have to be real … they just need to be powerful and they need to evoke the powerful emotion you want your audience to feel…. Whether it be a winter spectacle, a comfy place, or being drenched in adrenaline.  Your stories – your words combined with your visuals – need to transport people, or make them feel how truly one-of-a-kind they are!

So, just a little repeat – This was our 10th episode where we talk about the marketing for each archetype.  We still have the Lover and the Ruler to go.  In each of these episodes, you’ll notice we DON’T talk about specific marketing strategies.  We talk about the logic and the approach you should take with your new campaigns.  In this episode, we point out the power of storytelling and the specific points and ideas you might tap into to support the archetype (or sub-archetype).  We hope you find this helpful!


  • Because “Brand Archetypes” is also an Explorer Brand, we hope that our podcast episodes, book, and blog content are taking you and your company places that you’ve never dreamed of.
  • If you’re trying to create or market an Explorer Brand of any type, we would LOVE to hear about your challenges and successes.  What ideas worked for you … which ones didn’t work so well. Reach out to us at
  • Follow us on all the social media @BrandArchetypes 

Kevin & Amy

Kevin Skarritt and Amy Zander are the co-creators of the Brand Archetypes podcast and co-authors of the book by the same name. Explore the world of Brand Archetypes and find out how they can transform your company!

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