Are you a 'Citizen' Brand? Stand Out, By Fitting In...


(Need to check out our introduction to the 12 core brand archetypes? It’s here)

It’s official, living near a pub is good for you. Newcastle Business School have conducted a 10-year study into almost 3000 rural parishes, and concluded that those with a tangible sense of community are much more likely to be those which are blessed with a thriving pub- sports centres and village halls just don’t do the job.

But why is this the case?

Put simply, it’s because ‘the local’, a low-beamed hostelry complete with damp dog, regulars you can set your watch by, (and cries to unknowing newcomers of “don’t sit there, that’s Bob’s stool!”) a crackling fire and brown beers with names like ‘Old Hornswoggler’ is a place where all men are equal.

CAMRA have known this for years - their campaign promoting pubs points out that there is no other place in society with the same atmosphere of tolerance, conviviality and sociability. Class, rank and career are left at the door, along with the cares of working and family life. One regular in my local says of its neutrality, “the pub is Switzerland".

It is this ‘everyman’ quality of the great British boozer, where all who enter are treated the same, which is key to its enduring appeal and value, and which is at the core of the Citizen (also known as the Regular Guy/Girl, the Guy/Girl Next Door or the Common Man) Archetype.

You don’t have to sell beer for this archetype to resonate with you though- nor do you have to be British. Swedish mega-brand IKEA, with their reasonably priced flat pack furniture and vision of ‘a better everyday life for the many people’ are the epitome of the Citizen brand personality. This is even reflected in their stores, in which all customers are guided around the same route of products in everyday home set ups.

Ultimately, citizen brands are driven by fairness, integrity, belonging and responsibility to the community. They act as a peer, not as a leader and want everyone to feel equal.

A Summary of the Citizen Archetype

Mission: To connect, to belong and promote equality.

Values: Altruism. Fairness. Respect.

Personality attributes: Down-to-earth. Humble. Friendly. Honest.

Brands: TOMS Shoes. Chipolte. Levi’s. IKEA. Jack Daniels

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

How can we express our Citizen identity?

1) Act completely transparently and with complete consistency.

2) Use a natural, plain tone of voice.

3) Be unpretentious- present a realistic view of the world.

4) Create a sense of empathy- Be a great asker of questions and a superb listener.

5) Demonstrate ordinary, solid values - always be democratic in your behavior.

How have other brands expressed this archetype?

Jack Daniels The Whisky brand’s global community manager Cordell Lawrence provided a fantastic case study of their use of the Citizen (they refer to it as ‘Everyman’) Archetype at Social Media World Forum in 2013. This excellent resource can be viewed on the #SMWF Blog here.

It’s also interesting to note that Jack Daniels don’t just identify with one archetype. As we’ve mentioned a few times, most companies find that their brand personality is a blend of several- in this case four- of the twelve key archetypes, and this is nothing to be concerned about. Whilst the Citizen is Jack Daniels’s core, and the examples used by Lawrence bear this out, particularly the family values expressed by their Christmas ad campaign, they also recognise the others which can be of use to them.

Not sure if your brand is a Citizen? As we said, your brand is probably a mix of two or three archetypes. We’ve explored several of them over the past few weeks- look back through the ‘Brand Archetypes’ category if there’s any you’ve missed- and we’ll be continuing to do so into the future, so sign up to stay updated.


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