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The call to adventure; a short guide to the Explorer archetype



The desire to explore and put curiosity into action is one of the traits that have shaped our civilization. It's a mindset that pushes us to discover and get to know this universe better. It’s this call for adventure that led us to traverse oceans, map continents, pursue scientific inquiry into unchartered territories, and venture into space. It connects us as a global community, breaking down barriers and fostering understanding between people from different places. This call to adventure is universal; but, it’s more deeply ingrained in some people, leading it to be considered a personality archetype in Jungian psychology. Called ‘the Explorer’, we use this archetype in storytelling for businesses. 


The Explorer archetype embodies the spirit of adventure, curiosity, and a thirst for the unknown. It resonates with businesses and people who are eager to discover new horizons, both externally and internally. The Explorer seeks personal growth, freedom, and authentic experiences beyond the ordinary. The Explorer is one of the twelve archetypes of the universally recognized patterns of the human psyche as theorized by Carl Jung—the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology. We use them for commercial story design. We created a more detailed guide to understand archetypes; it’s recommended as a supporting read to understand why Jungian archetypes provide a great framework to typify business personas.


In this short guide focusing on the Explorer archetype, we cover:



 

Explorer businesses


From our work, we’ve seen certain types of businesses that naturally lend themselves to the Explorer archetype. Businesses in travel, adventure, historical and cultural tourism—like tour operators, museums, heritage locations, and adventure experience companies—are a natural fit for the Explorer archetype. They cater to customers seeking new experiences and the thrill of travel, inviting audiences to explore the richness of the natural world, history, and human heritages. Another closely related business sector is outdoor and sporting gear and wear. With their offer of apparel or equipment giving solutions to outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers, these companies also embody the spirit of adventure and exploration with ease.


 

But, the explorer goes beyond these mentioned natural fits. If your business values freedom, authenticity, and adventure, it can successfully project the Explorer archetype in stories and identity. We use a Brand Articulation Framework to identify your business persona, with archetypes being one of the major tools we use.

 

Exploration and adventure is an idea that transcends traversing the physical world; it applies to ideas and thinking too. We’ve seen a fair share of businesses that involve scientific, tech or innovation to embody the Explorer archetype in terms of uncovering new possibilities, pushing boundaries, and encouraging curiosity. Other natural projectors of the Explorer archetype are, environmental and conservation organizations dedicated to exploring and protecting the natural world, culinary businesses—such as food tour companies or restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines catering to food explorers seeking authentic taste experiences and travelling retail and pop-up shops including concept stores with a sense of wonder, enticing customers to follow or explore something beyond the ordinary.


1904, The ruined cities of Ceylon. Cave, Henry. Hutchinson & co., London. See the Explorer postcard pairing and story we created from this using PD rights.



The Explorer in stories


When we work with clients that have a prominent Explorer archetype, we often create stories that revolve around adventure, self-discovery, and the quest for the unknown. 


 

The classic story arc of adventure where a protagonist embarks on a quest, gains an extraordinary experience, and returns transformed—whether it's a guest experiencing a resort, a yoga retreat, or a dish or beverage that transports them—are great stories for Explorer businesses. For many of our Explorer clients in adventure travel or recreation, we create stories that focus on explorers venturing into uncharted territories; like jungle trails, surf expeditions, lesser-known histories, or navigating major changes through symbolic journeys

 

When we work with clients who are healers, fitness gurus, or yogis, Explorer narratives centered on an individual's inner journey of self-discovery and personal growth leaving one's comfort zone to explore new aspects of themselves, become particularly useful. Narratives involving journeys through time to explore different past eras or learn about historical figures are particularly effective for Explorer brands that connect to historical locations, resorts and holiday homes.


When we work with artists, musicians, or design studios that embody the Explorer in their brand persona, we often make stories that share their creative processes, staying true to themselves, and seeking inspiration. There are many story arcs and narratives that resonate with the Explorer archetype by capturing curiosity, adventure, and the pursuit of new horizons—whether external, internal or symbolic. They often inspire audiences to embrace their journeys of exploration and growth.


 

It’s interesting to create stories that speak to the Explorer archetype in the audience too; we once created a series of written and visual stories for a merchandise collection designed specifically to help travellers take back the memories of the places they experienced in Sri Lanka; see this collection in our client’s store, and read this story about how we created the city story series. Another time, we created a story series as a series of postcards that considered the traveller audience of a hospitality business with a dominant Explorer archetype.


 

Why many businesses relate to the Explorer right now


In our work, the Explorer is one of the most popular archetypes that we encounter among businesses. The Explorer has always held the fascination of the collective psyche; the volumes of pop culture and media, films, books, television shows, and documentaries with exploratory themes, adventure, and self-discovery through the ages tell us that the Explorer has been a beloved facet of the human mind for a very long time. 


However, after 2022, there’s a notable and significant resonance with this archetype among businesses—particularly, new ones. We think this Explorer archetype's relevance in the general business mindset has much to do with the start-up culture and entrepreneurial mindset of the time. Most decision-makers, particularly entrepreneurs, are Explorers themselves. It’s natural for business founders’ and custodians' personalities to influence the brand, allowing their desire for personal growth, fascination with diverse cultures, and a longing for adventure and discovery to seep into the business persona as well. There is also a renewed interest in travel and a desire to explore beyond one's immediate surroundings in contemporary culture; particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic which prompted reflection on the importance of rich life experiences. Societal shifts toward embracing diversity and inclusivity encourage people to explore and appreciate different cultures while growing awareness of climate change and environmental issues prompting exploration and appreciation of our planet, and the rise of remote work and digital nomadism have also contributed to the rising popularity of the Explorer.


 

Our most frequent Explorer brand clients are in hospitality, food and beverages, health and mental well-being, and the creative industry. When we create stories for them, we make sure we bring out the traits that highlight their sense of adventure, resourcefulness and ability to stay authentic despite shifts in time and place. See how we helped a resort with an Explorer identity communicate how they stayed true to their offer during Sri Lanka’s economic crisis; this was a story designed to show how an Explorer persona used its superpower to stay true to self in the thick of changes within a seriously challenging context where the government had imposed strict import restrictions leading to ingredient limitations for their eclectic menu based on recipes around the world. To find out how we can tell your Explorer stories, get in touch.

 


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