It seems one of the highest compliments bestowed upon a celebrity is that the superstar “is so down to earth!” The comfort and appeal of knowing that something or someone who is larger than life is actually “just one of us” is the pull of the Everyman archetype, and brands who are relatable in this way will go a long way in capturing the hearts of their consumers.
This post is a part of a series on the 12 Brand Archetypes and how to use them to build a stronger brand. To learn more, read the introduction here.
All About the Everyman
- Promise: Everyone is created equal.
- Core desire: Connection with others
- Goal: To belong
- Fear: Being seen as elitist, not being welcomed
- Strategy: Develop common virtues; blend in
- Gift: Empathy and Authenticity
- Motivation: Belonging
As modeled by the Regular Joe or the Girl Next Door, the Everyman archetype is wholesome and genuine – which makes it irresistibly likeable! The Everyman tends to demonstrate the underlying American ideals of hard work and honesty, and embraces common sense values and authenticity. The Everyman feels no need for pretense. It doesn’t desire luxury or measure itself by status symbols — as demonstrated by a high-powered executive who comes to work in jeans and sneakers, for example.
The Everyman wants to fit in and be part of a group. Its motivation is to belong and be accepted. While this generally means a surface-level embracing of all people, it also manifests into a joining of cliques, social clubs, and memberships, to be around like-minded peers.
The Everyman brand archetype is easily seen in mom-and-pop stores, local diners, and community events that have a down-home culture, genuine and caring. TV shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and Cheers celebrate the simple joys of the everyday and being surrounded by people who know and accept you. Personalities like country singer Blake Shelton win us over with homespun charm and good-natured humor. Brands like Wrangler Jeans, Wendy’s, Discover, and Budweiser are heavily dependent on the Everyman archetype. And even many who disagree with Barack Obama’s policies will admit that he himself is a relatable and likeable guy. That’s the Everyman at work.
The Everyman Brand in Action
Everyman brands tend to have or portray a family culture, welcoming and inviting. Their products or services may have mass appeal or be applicable to a broad audience, and are generally meeting a basic need, nothing fancy or extravagant.
The marketing of an Everyman brand often speaks in a colloquial voice and uses wholesome imagery. There are no outlandish claims, nothing designed to get shock value. Money-back guarantees and other trust-building elements are common. Everyman brands will find that social media is a great outlet for them, and smart brands will use it to become even more relatable, transparent, and helpful to their customers.
The organizational structure of an Everyman brand downplays hierarchy. Decisions are made democratically or by consensus. Working in teams is common. There is a strong sense of pride in the work that is done, and the atmosphere is comfortable and casual.
The Different Levels of the Everyman Archetype
Each of the 12 different archetypes has levels. The lower levels are less mature while higher levels are more developed.
Level 1: The Everyman archetype is expressed through seeking any sort of affiliation, typically spurred by feelings of loneliness.
Level 2: One learns how to connect (form and nurture relationships) and fit in.
Level 3: The dignity afforded each person, regardless of differences, is realized and practiced.
All in the Family
There are different aspects of the Everyman archetype that can emerge, based on the strength of various attributes. The book Archetypes in Branding includes the Everyman as one of five related sub-archetypes.
What you see is what you get. Without pretense, the Everyman is sincere, helpful, and genuine. Wanting to belong and get along with others, this sub-archetype treats everyone with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, in the effort to not ruffle feathers, the Everyman may succumb to a herd mentality and lose its own identity.
The Citizen holds a deep responsibility to the community, believing there to be great value in the collective whole. With high integrity, the Citizen works for fairness and equality. The challenge for the Citizen is not to be overly zealous in its sense of righteousness.
The Advocate is compelled to work for the greater good on behalf of others. With passion and energy, this sub-archetype is able to motivate and inspire others to action while uniting people behind a cause. The Advocate should be careful, however, to not let personal gain overtake the greater good.
The Servant is committed to helping others, whether in a subservient role, or as a leader. With empathy, awareness, and commitment, the humble Servant asks no reward for serving others. This can, however, become a weakness, leading to burnout or a desire for recognition.
The Networker creates communities and connections for the benefit of the whole. With an outgoing nature, the Networker is a social butterfly, friendly and relatable. The challenge this sub-archetype may face is the temptation to manipulate connections for personal gain.
Real world Examples of the Everyman Brand
The desire consumers have to be heard and understood is a frustration that many large corporate brands don't address well. Discover's well-known "We treat you like you'd treat you" campaign shows that this is a brand that cares about the experience of its customers, and is as relatable and responsive as you would be to yourself.
What brings people together better than a nice cold beer? Whether making new friends or relaxing with old buddies, there's nothing pretentious about a Bud. It has the potential to bring together people from all walks of life. As the commercial says "If you can share a few cold ones with friends, who's gonna complain?"
If a nice comfortable pair of blue jeans isn't Everyman, what is? Wrangler pulls very heavily on midwest cowboy culture, marketing to those who put in days of hard sweaty work.
Along with their "Ultimate Cowgirl Next Door" contest, the brand epitomizes the Everyman principles of genuine, authentic, normal people who demonstrate American values.
Moe's Southwest Grill
If you've ever walked into a Moe's Southwest Grill, you'll be greeted with a hearty and heartfelt "Welcome to Moe's!" Every. single. time. It's part of their laid-back and inviting atmosphere. Their brand video states: "We’re not fake, stodgy, or corporate. We’re open, honest, and down-to-earth. A place where friends, family, and coworkers check their worries at the door." They have intentionally created a culture that feels very much Everyman, where you're free to be yourself, surrounded by friends.
The Everyman Consumer
Everyman consumers are neighborly, offering help when needed. They are respectful of others even when they don’t know (or particularly like!) them very much. They are reliable and believe in the merits of a hard day's work. Usually frugal, they appreciate the simple things in life. They are humble and tend to root for the underdog.
Brands that want to attract Everyman consumers should focus on the experiences they provide to them. A brand that is approachable, responsive, and friendly will go a long way in reaching these consumers. Innovation, while always important, is less of an issue for Everyman consumers. With a quality product in tow, brands should go back to basics and focus on giving Everyman consumers the assurance of trustworthiness, reliability, and openness.
Is Your Brand an Everyman?
Does your brand help people fit in or feel comfortable being themselves? Do you promote down-home "old-fashioned" values? Are your products/services something used in common everyday life? If so, you may be an Everyman brand.