One of the most frequently met archetypes in our work is the Caregiver. It leads to characters and brands that can inspire trust and loyalty in the audience. There is a fascinating duality to this archetype typified by its capacity to care. Whenever those under its care are threatened, from the same warm core that holds its kindness, rises a relentless protector.
In this short report, we cover:
The Caregiver archetype resonates well with businesses that prioritize its nurturing and caring qualities. Healthcare and wellness industry brands looking to emphasize how they focus on the well-being and care of their patients or customers are easily linked to the Caregiver. We’ve also noticed brands that offer personal care products, like skincare, body care, or beauty products, naturally gravitate toward the Caregiver archetype.
With the Caregiver archetype closely associated with the nurturing and guidance of children, brands in childcare, and education also take to this archetype. Agriculture is another industry that fits seamlessly with the Caregiver archetype. Organizations focused on social services, environmental protection, humanitarian aid, or non-profit initiatives also embody the Caregiver archetype often enough. These brands can emphasize their commitment to making a positive impact on nature, individuals or communities, promoting compassion, and addressing social and environmental needs. Businesses in the pet care industry or those dedicated to animal welfare can embody this archetype for their brands by focusing on the safety, health, and happiness of animals as well. We’ve encountered the Caregiver archetype most often through the hospitality and service industry. Brands in hotels, resorts, restaurants, or travel experience-oriented businesses can emphasize how they take care of their guests creating safe, welcoming and comforting experiences; it’s a perfect fit. This doesn’t mean that a motorcycle manufacturer, for example, cannot be a Caregiver brand. It all boils down to what the business values and aims to bring into this world.
If caring for this world is how you approach your mission, there is a Caregiver in your brand. We use a Brand Articulation Framework to figure this out.
When we work with Caregiver brands, we help them emulate the archetype through what they really do out there as a business—real stories of how the business is affecting communities or places, how processes and raw materials are handled with care, and how a place is loved and cared for.
The Caregiver in stories
A caregiver brand would focus on telling stories that highlight its nurturing qualities. Themes like healing and growth are natural arcs for the Caregiver. Wherever it’s available, we try to draw out stories where businesses contribute to bettering and developing an individual, like a staff member or a sponsored talent, or their community at large. Stories of discovering one's own inner resilience and becoming a strength to others, or inspiring others to lean on their own are also great story narratives for Caregiver brands, showing how they walk their talk in a very authentic sense. Caregiver brands can also focus on stories that involve mentorship and guidance, imparting wisdom, knowledge, and lessons to others; these stories help them establish themselves as pastoral figures who play an active role in consumers’ personal and collective growth. A story theme that we always stress on Caregiver brands to incorporate are those demonstrating how they preserve, contribute or grow; without these stories that evidence the real work of the Caregiver, businesses may come across as disingenuous. We encourage and help our Caregiver clients to tell these stories authentically, sharing the outcomes of their work. In our experience, such stories reinforce Caregiver brands.
Like all archetypes, the Caregiver also has its shadow which is controlling, suffocating and hovering over, preventing the independent development of those under its care. In brand storytelling, we don’t usually bring in these negative aspects of archetypes for obvious reasons; but in our creative work for the Public Works monthly stories subscription, we sometimes delve into the shadow and different Caregiver perspectives like this story of a young woman finding comfort in a place.
If your business takes pride in how its consumers are well taken care of, how its work changes the world for the better or how it builds a place where others can find refuge, the Caregiver resonates with your story. To find out how to tell the story of your Caregiver brand to build a deeper connection with your audience, get in touch with us.
Understanding the archetype
The archetypes we use to model brand personas are from the works of Carl Jung—the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst known as the father of analytical psychology for his work on the collective unconscious and individuation. The Caregiver archetype is one of the first archetypes described by Jung. The Caregiver archetype represents the nurturing and caring parental aspect of the human psyche. It embodies the qualities of compassion, kindness, selflessness, and a desire to support and care for others and alleviate their suffering.
According to Jung, archetypes are universal, primordial patterns or images that are inherent in the collective unconscious of all humans. They are innate and play a significant role in shaping our thoughts, behaviours, and interactions with the world. Archetypes manifest in various forms, such as myths, symbols, and recurring patterns in human experiences.
The Caregiver archetype is seen in characters in popular culture, through different works of art and fiction, religion and as brands of businesses built on providing service, care or help to people. As humans whose first experience of the world was shaped through our parents, grandparents or other carers whose nurturing and mentorship shaped us, many respond to the Caregiver archetype with a sense of nostalgia, affection and trust, making it very effective for brands that want to establish deep connections with their audience.
Is the Caregiver a gendered archetype?
We don’t think so.
The Caregiver archetype can manifest as masculine, feminine, or non-binary, as it represents a fundamental aspect of human nature that extends beyond gender roles. It’s often associated with the maternal figure who provides comfort, support, and protection. However, the Caregiver archetype also has a paternal aspect that offers guidance, relief and strength. We considered Carl Jung's views on the Mother and Father symbols to get a glimpse into what the Caregiver archetype means to the human mind in its full breadth.
"The mother archetype corresponds to a power that is intimately related to life, that lays down the laws of our whole psychic structure, that seems to determine the course of our lives in advance, and that seems to prepare the way for our future ahead of time."
"The father archetype is responsible for the process of consciousness, for the overcoming of inertia and unconsciousness."
—Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
In classical Jungian terms, the mother symbol is characterized by nurturing, containing, and generative qualities of motherhood—like nourishing, warmth, comfort, fertility and growth. Parallely, the father symbol is a more active and assertive principle dominated by intellect and will, shaping and guiding the mind. We found the mother symbolism connecting the idea of a supreme protector and nourisher, source of life and growth to the Caregiver archetype, while the father adds the strengthening, guiding, and pastoral functions. We think that by understanding the traditionally feminine and masculine parent symbolism and their consolidation, the Caregiver is an archetype that can easily lend itself to masculine, feminine or non-binary personas.
This balance is particularly interesting to understand how the Caregiver archetype is not limited to biological caregiving but also exists as teachers, spaces, growers, healers, guardians, and community figures. To find out how to tell the story of your Caregiver brand to build a deeper connection with your audience, get in touch with us.