Brand Archetypes — Meet the Caregiver
The Caregiver brand archetype can be summed up in two words: compassionate and self-sacrificing. Picture the empathetic nurse or the helpful concierge, and you will see how the Caregiver archetype is a personality fit for brands that aim to nurture or serve others, from healthcare to nonprofits, to hospitality industries.
Brand archetypes are the secret sauce to creating stronger brands, and are an essential tool for any marketing toolbox! To learn more, read the introduction here.
PROMISE: Treat your neighbor as yourself.
CORE DESIRE: To protect people from harm
GOAL: To help others
FEAR: Selfishness and ingratitude
STRATEGY: Do things for others
GIFT: Compassion and generosity
MOTIVATION: Stability and control
All About the Caregiver
The Caregiver derives meaning from helping others. This brand archetype is moved by compassion and generosity and strives to make people feel nurtured and secure. For the Caregiver, the worst fears are 1) neglecting loved ones and 2) instability, due to the impact it will have on the less fortunate.
The Caregiver archetype is often associated with the maternal and paternal instincts parents have in protecting their children, to the point of self-sacrifice. They give of themselves to make sure others are cared for.
This archetype is seen in teachers, nurses, and at the organizational level, churches, insurance agencies, and hotels. Well-known examples of the Caregiver archetype are Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Habitat for Humanity, Campbell’s, and The Salvation Army.
The Caregiver in Action
To see the Caregiver around you, look no further than the healthcare, insurance, and financial planning industries, as well as nonprofit or charitable organizations. Less obvious may be brands that have to do with maintenance or fixing broken things — activities such as cleaning, mending clothes, gardening, or general upkeep all call on the Caregiver’s tendency to nurture.
Companies that do these things on a large scale can tap into the Caregiver archetype quite successfully. Auto brands that emphasize the safety of their vehicles may also project the Caregiver mentality effectively. No parent would ever consider an unsafe car for his teenager, after all!
The marketing strategies of Caregiver brands will revolve heavily around providing helpful experiences and nurturing relationships. Marketing will often appeal to sentimentality, happy memories, the comforts of home and family, and feelings of safety and security. Visuals or multimedia may pull on soft color palettes, family imagery, and touching music.
Internally, a Caregiver organization will foster a relational culture that is typically highly structured or bureaucratic (in order to ensure an atmosphere of stability). Caregiver companies tend to treat their employees well; although, if the culture is not healthy, there is the risk of employee burnout due to the level of sacrifice expected from them.
The well-functioning Caretaker organization treats both its employees and customers with a high level of service, aiming to anticipate needs in advance and going above and beyond to accommodate them. In fact, exemplary customer service is a hallmark of a Caregiver brand. They just do nice things for others.
The Different Levels of the Caregiver Archetype
Each of the 12 archetypes exists in levels. The lower levels are less advanced while higher levels are more evolved.
Level 1 of the Caregiver brand archetype includes caring for one’s dependents.
Level 2 involves finding a balance between caring for oneself along with caring for others.
Level 3 speaks to an altruistic concern for the world at large.
All in the Family
The Caregiver archetype can be viewed from a few different angles, depending on which specific attributes are at play. The book Archetypes in Branding breaks it down into a family of sub-archetypes (including the primary Caregiver archetype) for a total of five.
The Caregiver is good, compassionate, and empathetic, with a sacrificial concern for others. This sub-archetype remains calm in a crisis and remains optimistic. The challenge it faces is an inability to say no, always wanting to help even when it is detrimental to the self.
A defender of others, the Guardian is fiercely protective. Providing nurturing guidance and loving oversight, the Guardian tends to keep to traditions and values. The main challenge of the Guardian is the potential to be overbearing or misuse their power.
The Samaritan is selfless and kind in their quest to love thy neighbor as thyself. This sub-archetype demonstrates compassionate action. It finds meaning in relieving others’ suffering. However, the Samaritan may face the challenge of self-martyrdom, if not careful.
Strong in sensitivity, the Healer acts as a conduit to wholeness by creating optimal conditions for healing to happen naturally. With healthy doses of optimism and empathy, this sub-archetype remains full of faith, while remaining perceptive to others’ emotions. Unfortunately, the Healer can succumb to ego if holding too tightly to the idea of having the only right answer.
The Angel sub-archetype exudes purity and humility. With infinite compassion, the Angel brings joy and laughter while providing aid and comfort. As the name implies, the Angel can help guide others to change their lives for the better — including facilitating spiritual connection and miracles. For the Angel, the challenge lies in having an unrealistic outlook — ignoring anything negative to focus only on the positive.
Real-world Example of the Caregiver Brand:
The highest level of the Caregiver archetype is the altruist, focusing on serving the needs of the world at large. At this level, the Salvation Army serves as a fitting example of the Caregiver archetype.
For years, The Salvation Army has been ranked among the most trusted nonprofit organizations in America. With a tagline of “Doing the Best”, they have strongly branded themselves while providing social services to those in need for over a century.
They post their brand strategy online, which includes their Brand Personality: “Passionate. Compassionate. Brave. Uplifting. Trustworthy.” and their Brand Positioning: “To those who want to positively affect their world, The Salvation Army is the charity that maximizes contributions.”
Whenever you hear the sound of a ringing bell during Christmastime, there’s a good chance one of The Salvation Army’s red kettles is nearby to collect shoppers’ loose change. The red kettle is an integral part of The Salvation Army brand. One of their seasonal marketing pushes is “Red Kettle Reason” which is a campaign run during the holiday season to encourage giving to their organization.
Celebrity personality Nick Cannon is highlighted in a commercial from their 2015 campaign, in which he recounts his own childhood experience of being helped by The Salvation Army while espousing the shared values of faith and the responsibility of caring for others.
Not as recent, but still relevant is a commercial for a local Salvation Army Store, with a compelling call for you to help in their mission by donating what you can.
The global reach of The Salvation Army cannot be denied, as we see in this promo video a call for ministry participants during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil to help with programs that will assist children and the poor.
Do you notice in all of these videos that children appear somewhere? With this, the brand manages to speak to the most primitive instinct we all have, to protect and care for our kids, level 1 of the archetype, even while communicating on higher levels about helping society at large.
The Salvation Army as Hero?
With the Salvation Army also providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid, you’d be forgiven for thinking the brand could be a Hero archetype (as is another organization that occupies a similar space, the Red Cross). Indeed, these two archetypes are similar in that they help others in need, and The Salvation Army may feel heroic to those who are on the receiving end of their help.
However, the motivations of the Caregiver and the Hero are different. The Caregiver is driven by the desire to meet the needs of others, a social motivation. The Hero is driven by the need to prove worth through courageous action, a self-driven motivation.
The Christian foundation of faith and sacrifice is possibly what ties The Salvation Army and the Caregiver together so strongly.
The Caregiver's motto to “love your neighbor as yourself” is decidedly Christian, coming straight from the Bible, and aligns with The Salvation Army’s stated goal to “support everyone in need in His name without discrimination.” While the Red Cross and The Salvation Army occupy much the same space and provide similar services, it is their demonstrated brand positioning, culture, and values that set them apart from each other.
The Caregiver Consumer
Caregiver consumers are constantly trying to achieve balance in caring for others (kids, aging parents, and the world at large) versus themselves, so brands that can speak to this struggle will resonate with those individuals. Following, the Caregiver consumer also likes to be recognized occasionally for their service, as it is a task that is often unappreciated or goes under the radar.
The Caregiver consumer isn’t easily fooled by everything it hears; it looks for brands that show they care instead of those that say they do. For brands looking to target the Caregiver consumer, it is imperative that the brands show authentic action — walk the walk.
Is Your Brand a Caregiver?
Ask yourself: Do you place a high value on serving or protecting others? Is your goal to help people care for other people, pets, society, or the world at large with sacrificial devotion? If you answered yes, it is very likely your brand is a Caregiver. To have the biggest impact, you should do all you can to communicate these values clearly and consistently, including in your marketing.