Tell Me What Car You Drive (And I’ll Tell You Your Brand Archetype)

Years ago, I heard this awesome speaker who went by the name, “The Dating Doctor.” People weren’t too thrilled when he first started, but by the end of the presentation, the audience was eating out of the palm of his hands!

He told us, “Name your favorite animal and three reasons why.”

Without exception, every person in that audience named traits and characteristics that described themselves.

My friend Stacy named a golden retriever, because they’re loyal, trustworthy, and love unconditionally. That described her to a T!

Mine was a lamb, because they’re soft, fluffy, and white. [Laugh all you want…]

The audience roared when a handsome young black man stood up and proudly proclaimed that his favorite animal was a white tiger – but it made sense that this animal was sleek, majestic, and fast. [He was a runner.]

Lately, I’ve been going down the rabbit hole with brand archetypes – story patterns that exist throughout history and time that we see every day in movies and TV shows. It turns out, they show up in advertising too.

Brilliant branding and marketing experts know how to use these to sell their products and services, by tapping into an identity that already exists for their customers.

[Or, by reinforcing an identity that wish to have.]

No other industry knows this better than car and auto manufacturers:

-Do you have a thirst for adventure and a desire to hit the open road? You might drive a Jeep, pick-up truck that’s bigger than you need, SUV, or if you’re the environmentally-friendly type (or live in Asheville), you might drive a Suburu.

Even if the most adventure you get during the week is driving your kid to karate, they are reinforcing the ‘Explorer’ identity for you.

-Want to hit the open road and cause a revolution at the same time? You might drive a Harley-Davidson (reinforcing the ‘Rebel’ or ‘Outlaw’ archetype.)

-If you want to have fun and drive fast, Mazda has that market cornered, followed by Honda. [Zoom Zoom = enjoying life as the ‘Jester.’]

-If you like luxury and standing out from the crowd, you might drive a Tesla, something foreign, or otherwise expensive brand (e.g., BMW, Porsche, Jaguar, etc.), to reinforce power, status, and control as the ‘Ruler’ archetype.

-If you want something simple, positive, and optimistic, you might drive a Volkswagen. The Beetle was one of the first cars to embody the ‘Innocent,’ with the front of the original resembling a baby’s face.

-If your main concern is keeping family safe, you might drive a minivan with tons of safety features, reinforcing the ‘Caregiver’ in you..

I used to think I was too smart to fall under the influence of this phenomenon. I thought, “I don’t need a car to reinforce my identity. I drive a gray 2009 Toyota Corolla S.”

-It’s practical.

-It’s going to be around for the long-haul.

-It’s timeless. (It’s 10-years old, yet looks like every other Toyota sedan that’s come out on the market ever since because, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)

-Yet, I bought the ‘S’ version because I wanted it to have a bit of an edge – just a little something special to make it more distinctive. That spoiler is just that little detail that elevates the look of it, finishes it off, and says, “I’m not like everyone else.”

To be fair, I didn’t have to pay for those “bells and whistles” that came with that version, because I bought certified pre-owned. It was a good value that came with a lifetime warranty.

And just like that, I disproved my own theory.

I don’t need a car that reinforces my identity, yet I chose a car that embodies my core values… (practicality, sustainability, timelessness, with a bit of an edge for more distinction.)

The way I bought that car, and the things that motivated me to buy, are what drives all of my buying decisions… I’m looking for a good value (and because I’m a risk-averse ‘Sage’ archetype, that warranty really seals the deal for me.)

And yet, the Creative/Artist archetype in me wanted that spoiler for that “edge-factor.”

My next car will probably be another certified pre-owned Toyota Corolla that’s just a little updated – a bit leaner, meaner, and sleeker.

(I’m debating on the same charcoal gray or the charcoal with a bit of blue mixed into it… do I want to not change at all, or change just enough to feel like I’m ‘living on the edge?’)

Pro-Tip – Toyotas may be considered the ‘safe’ and ‘boring’ choice for cars, but Sages are usually customers for life, which isn’t the case for every archetype. [If it ain’t broke…]

So, what car do you drive, and what brand archetype does it reinforce for you?