Transformation, change, renewal, metamorphosis, magic. No matter how you say it, the Magician archetype leaves others standing in amazement. Characterized by curiosity and foundational knowledge, the Magician finds solutions in science or the supernatural to create something from nothing — or turn a mess into a miracle.
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 Magician
- Promise: If you can dream it, you can achieve it
- Core desire: Knowledge of how the world works
- Goal: To make dreams come true
- Fear: Unanticipated negative consequences
- Strategy: Develop a vision and live it out fully
- Gift: Finding win-win outcomes
- Motivation: Mastery
Let’s start with the obvious. The Magician archetype is easy to draw on if there are ancient or exotic origins or special rituals involved. But a wizard in a pointed hat does not reflect the fullness of this archetype — not even close.
At its core, the Magician sets out to achieve objectives by applying the fundamental laws of how something works in order to get results. This includes both supernatural and scientific applications. The result is often transformative.
The Magician genuinely believes that there is more — something greater than us, greater than what we see — and often stands in defiance of perceived “reality”, believing that the limits we have are mostly self-imposed.
Often perceived as intelligent and knowledgeable, the Magician may appear to have special access to secret or elusive information. Even if the application is scientific, the Magician’s ability to manipulate forces such as gravity, electromagnetism, or radiation feels magical to others simply because the concepts are mysterious, difficult to grasp, or invisible to the naked eye. Think about any major industry-shaping invention (the light bulb, the airplane, Bluetooth), and you’ll find the Magician archetype activated in every one. This type of mystique often leaves others in awe of or inspired by the Magician, particularly as the Magician uses its abilities to make dreams come true.
The Magician Brand in Action
Magician brands foster “magical moments” — experiences that feel special, novel, and exciting — as well as more lasting change. Magician brands help people transform...
- from sickness and pain to the picture of health (pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals , herbal remedies)
- from crows feet and graying hair to the regained beauty of youth (beauty products and cosmetic surgeons)
- from feeling lost and confused to total enlightenment (spiritual gurus, churches, life coaches)
- from dirty and neglected to fresh and sparkly (cleaning companies, restoration services, hygiene products)
- from ultimate chaos to perfect peace (spas, retreats, travel agencies)
- from financial lack to bountiful prosperity (MLM opportunities, career agencies)
- from inefficient to productive (technology industry)
So it should make sense that the Magician archetype is seen in brands that transform and fascinate, such as Walt Disney, MAC Cosmetics, Dyson, and Polaroid.
Magician brands have grandiose vision – something that others may even see as impossible – but Magician brands believe if they apply the right formula, success is inevitable.
The marketing of a Magician brand usually reflects this grandiose feel. Whether ethereal, expansive, or magnificent, imagery like a sky full of stars or a rainbow spanning the heavens are intended to evoke feelings of awe.
Magician brands can easily come under attack by competitors, the media, or public opinion, simply for the fact that they promise transformation that may be difficult to objectively prove. Good advice for a Magician brand is to avoid the temptation to generate attention with edgy or extreme marketing. Doing so will alienate or distract consumers and leave the brand with only a fringe following, missing the opportunity to truly connect with consumers by focusing on the true transformational purpose of the brand.
The Different Levels of the Magician Archetype
Each of the 12 different archetypes can be expressed at varying levels. The lower levels are less mature while higher levels are more developed.
Level 1 involves experiencing “magical moments” that leaves one feeling mesmerized, satisfied, happy, or transformed in some way, though generally short-term or superficial.
Level 2 brings the experience of “flow” – a state of being in which you are fully immersed and “at one” with what you are doing. The mental, physical, and spiritual are all in sync working in perfect accord toward reaching the vision.
Level 3 brings miracles or the complete manifestation of a vision.
All in the Family
Within the Magician family are different facets that can emerge based on the predominance of particular attributes. The book Archetypes in Branding labels these as sub-archetypes, and lists a total of five (including the primary Magician) in the family.
Dream big! That’s the motto of the Magician. Charismatic, influential, and very perceptive, the Magician turns dreams or ideas into reality for others. The Magician relies on forces beyond the natural to get results, and must beware not to fall into manipulation or trickery in the process.
The Alchemist uses a combination of fact and intuition in order to transmute one thing into something else entirely. The Alchemist values purity and perfection, wanting everything it touches to become pure gold. The scientific and the spiritual mesh to give this sub-archetype a belief that there are no limits. Nothing is impossible!...which may lead to the Alchemist’s weakness, if not careful — a temptation to engage in fraud.
The Scientist is passionate and curious, wanting to see what things are made of, and uses that knowledge to be a change agent in the world. A logical and questioning sub-archetype, the Scientist has to "see it to believe it". One thing it has to be careful of: missing the forest for the trees in its quest to dig deep into science and beyond.
Using a structured approach to problem solving, the Engineer transforms creative energy into practical expression. Logical and curious, the Engineer is the sub-archetype to turn to for solutions to everyday problems.
The Innovator, with a seemingly limitless ability to dream, is an idea machine. With high intellect and curiosity, the Innovator thrives on change and is not afraid of taking risks to get to a solution. Even though the Innovator has willpower and will perform in-depth research, this sub-archetype may be challenged to stay focused on the task at hand.
Real world Examples of the Magician Brand
We can look to Mary Kay for an example of a Magician brand. The company promotes their business opportunity as a way to transform your life – “turn your dreams into successes” as they advertise on their website. Their opportunity appeals to women with the promise of becoming happy, financially successful, and purposeful, all while being your own boss.
Of course, the beauty products themselves are transformational, promising younger looking skin, disappearing cellulite, glamorous makeup possibilities, and more. The below video shows a 12-week journey of one women using one of the products. See the transformation for yourself!
Snickers is not necessarily a brand that I would label as a Magician. Yet, with their humorous “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, the brand has pulled heavily on the Magician’s core of transformation. Suggesting that their chocolate bar has an incredible power to transform, they position it as the solution to the all-too-familiar (and scientifically-based!) truth that hunger can indeed affect mood and behavior.
Dyson revolutionized the vacuum cleaning industry. For many, the name immediately conjures up the most technological, sleek-looking vacuum cleaner there is — often leaving us wondering if Dyson engineers are waving a magic wand to create something so incredible.
Of course no discussion of the Magician archetype would be complete without mention of “The Place Where Dreams Come True” and the entire magical Disney empire.
The Magician Consumer
The typical Magician consumer will believe in a higher consciousness and the inherent rules that come with the territory — for examples, a metaphysical belief that "the Universe" will reward positive thinking (the Law of Attraction) or the promise that God will bless those who tithe regularly.
Additionally or alternatively, the Magician consumer may turn to the laws of nature and the sciences, relying on biology, physics, and psychology as strong guiding principles.
The Magician consumer is motivated both by the desire for personal transformation and to be a change agent in the world around them. A Magician consumer may very well be in a position of leadership, being influential and charismatic by nature.
The important thing to remember when marketing to Magicians is that they will align with brands as long as they can clearly see and connect with the true identity and purpose — the consciousness — of the brand.
Is Your Brand a Magician?
Does your brand help people transform? Do you turn messes into miracles? Do you know how to harness invisible forces that may not be easily understood by the layman?
In true Magician style, Walt Disney once said, “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execuite my vision to make those dreams come true.” If your brand can relate, you may be a Magician brand.