The Sage Archetype

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By Jan Gevers

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Brand archetypes humanize your brand by giving it a well-defined multidimensional personality your audience can relate to. They distinguish you from the competition and speak in a clear voice that cuts through the clutter.

Not sure yet which archetype corresponds to your brand?

The truth will set you free

The Sage brands promise wisdom.

Essence: Knowledge. Expertise. Truth.

  • Is your brand open-minded and flexible?

  • Is your brand committed to developing exceptional expertise?

  • Is seeking or providing knowledge a top priority for your brand?

  • Is your brand adept at research and getting to the truth?

  • Does your brand provide your customers with the means to think for themselves and to fulfill their potential?

If you have responded yes to many of the questions above, your brand may be best represented by the Sage archetype.

Purpose: To seek out the truth, to use knowledge and insights to understand the world.

Alter egos: The investigator - the mentor - the expert - the guru - the philosopher - the teacher - the oracle - the scholar - the guide

Personality traits: Reflective - intelligent - wise - open-minded - eloquent - trustworthy - analytical - informative - philosophical - disciplined - objective - perfectionistic - confident - insightful

Sage brand example

National Geographic is a typical example of the Sage archetype.

The good

Sage brands are committed to seeking out the truth. They will use the knowledge and wisdom they have gained to understand the world. The Sage is well-respected, capable of analyzing information objectively and willing to share the answer with others. Intelligent and insightful, Sage brands are great mentors as they see the value in thinking things through and they also inspire others to delve deeper rather than taking something at face value.

These brands are driven to find answers to the most challenging questions. This desire to discover the truth eventually leads to mastery in their field. In addition to demonstrating enhanced problem solving skills, the Sage is a perfectionist who values freedom of thought, critical thinking and individualism.

The bad

The Sage can be socially awkward and can appear rather cold and self-absorbed as they're often more at ease around books than around people, especially when few peers are on the same intellectual level. Additionally, they can come across as judgmental, overly critical and even patronizing. They should also take care not to become too proud or over-confident. Their never-ending quest for the truth can cause them to lose touch with reality or it can result in analysis paralysis, meaning that the Sage can get lost in research and end up never taking any action. The biggest fear of the Sage is to be misled or ignored.

The believers

The Sage archetype serves as a guardian of the truth and a reliable source of wisdom. These brands help their audience uncover the truth, understand the world and ultimately realize their full potential. The Sage audience enjoys learning new things simply for the sake of becoming more knowledgeable and gaining insights about the world. They value intelligence and independent thinking.

As they're able to grasp more complex ideas, they prefer to receive the hard data necessary to make an informed decision on their own. They're not afraid of products that require a steep learning curve and they respond well to advertising that challenges them to think in a different way. Cute or fluffy ads will not appeal to the Sage audience. They trust transparent brands who offer concrete information over those who're not eager to disclose relevant details or who talk down to them.

The brands

Brands that identify with the Sage provide expertise or information - backed up by research or scientific facts - that will encourage their customers to think. Typical sectors that associate with the Sage archetype include IT products, education and training e.g. universities and museums, news outlets, cutting edge technology, business intelligence, market research and the telecom sector. Sage brands avoid gimmicky or fluffy ads. Instead, they communicate using polished marketing materials that showcase their expertise and intellectual authority.

CNN, New York Times, Google, National Geographic, Oprah Winfrey are examples of the Sage archetype.

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