Are you a 'Sage' Brand? Learn How to Share Your Wisdom


(Haven’t read our introduction to the 12 core brand archetypes yet? It’s here)

The original, middle-English meaning of the word ‘broadcast’ is to scatter seed over a wide area- literally a ‘broad cast’. By the 1920s it had taken on a more figurative meaning, referring to the vital ‘seeds’ of information which the innovation of radio allowed to be sewn across an audience of previously unimagined size.

It is from this purpose of broadcasting that the mission of the BBC, ‘To Inform, Educate and Entertain’ was formed in 1931, when it’s first director-general, Glaswegian preacher’s son John Reith, placed those words in a very deliberate order.

Information, truth and the faithful reporting of it for the improvement of the masses was - and remains - the number one goal of the corporation. The aims of the world service published here sum this up beautifully.

The drive to access the facts via intelligent analysis and explanation is the Sage archetype all over.

It is a seeking archetype, which pairs well with the Ruler, which we’ll be looking at in future editions of the series, as both are driven by the quest for order and the acquisition of knowledge.

Sage (sometimes known as the Scholar, Guru, Source or Teacher) brands are deep fonts of knowledge that others turn to for trusted advice, information and wisdom. Diligent researchers, they devour information in a discriminating way, wanting to seek and share the truth about what they have learned.

The Sage in a Nutshell

Mission: The discovery of truth

Values: Wisdom. Intelligence. Truth seeking. Authority. Decisiveness. Objectivity.

Personality attributes: Factual. Decisive. Authoritative. Intelligent. Diligent.

Brand examples: BBC. Harvard. Bloomberg. Google. National Geographic. CNN.

Characters: Follow the link to our Pinterest Board of Sage characters from TV, film and literature.

How can we express our Sage archetype?

1) Utilise high level language and vocabulary; trust customers to grasp complex meanings and imagery.

2) Avoid dumbing-down or patronising.

3) Employ hard facts, tell stories through analysis of data and research.

4) Test assumptions, be analytical.

5) Be an educator, a font of knowledge- challenge customers to think in a new way and take on board new facts.

How have other brands expressed this archetype?

Even a 5-year-old child knows that when you need an answer to something - you Google it! Can there be a greater marker of brand success than becoming a verb?

Google is probably the single most important Sage brand of our time, succeeding over other search websites (Alta Vista, who?) through their clean, simple and authoritative presentation of search results as the truth.

Their stated mission, to ‘organise the world’s information’ came at a time when other sites were swamped with banners and ads (a contrasting mission to monetize the worlds information).

Google chose not to use adverts, only introducing unobtrusive text ads once they were established. In this way, they lent credence to their results as genuine answers, rather than swayed by advertising revenue, and they’ve become trusted as our go-to source.

Not sure if your brand is a Sage? Don’t forget that your brand personality 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.


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