Archetypes: The Explorer

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A person that goes on a journey to find his own identity. That’s the perfect translation of the Explorer archetype. Freedom, independence and authenticity are amongst the most important values of those who identify with the symbol, besides a great urge for individualism and to be ‘himself’.

The Explorer loathes the idea of conformity, of being one among many, and of accepting the rules without questioning. In many cases, he can be seen as a rebel but doesn’t want to wave any flags, just do things his own way and feel accomplished. From adventurer to pioneer to anti-hero, all figures who are in search of new experiences and reject any kind of barriers around them are impersonations of the archetype.

In these times of exacerbated individualism, constant seeking for real or virtual stimulation, and tools to help show how unique we are, it’s not hard to understand what underlies brands that personify the Explorer, like Starbucks and its customized coffees that come from distant, exotic locations, and those who stimulate adventures and expeditions, like Timberland, The North Face and Patagonia, especially when environmental issues are part of the game. Brands with a sporty appeal – but not for group sports, only for ‘solitaire’ activities, are usually great territory. Another example is in products that appeal for teenagers, just the time of our lives when we are creating an identity and willing to break patterns. As adolescence nowadays is stretched up until we are almost 30, there are plenty of opportunities out there…

In fashion, Levi’s used to be a good example since the jeans were an icon of the Explorer. Unfortunately, as I said before, in the last couple of decades, the brand got lost and today carries an undefined image, that doesn’t persuade anyone.

Another way to work with the Explorer is to invest in customization, and there is a great demand for it. Nevertheless, forget ostentation: no monograms engraved in bags, shirts and shoes from ubiquitous luxury brands. Focus on market niches, limited production and no logos on sight. Explorers love companies unknown by the ‘mainstream’, that are almost an ‘insider’ secret. If you thought about a hipster approach, you got it. However, keep in mind that your brand will need to keep this image of independence and autonomy even after it has grown and become ‘mainstream’. Once more, authenticity is key, as nothing can be more disappointing to the archetype than losing it.

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