The Explorer (Archetypes #3)

“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”  – David Livingstone

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”  – Edmund Hillary

David Livingstone and Edmund Hillary (along with Sherpa Tenzing) are perfect examples of the Explorer archetype, following in the footsteps of those like Christopher Columbus, who are brave enough to “boldly go where no man has gone before” in the words of a famous TV franchise (which also displays the Explorer archetype).

As you might expect. the Explorer is an archetype often used by brands associated with outdoor pursuits. Look at the following examples from North Face.


And these examples from Land Rover.

And these examples from Timberland.

The Explorer comes under many names, including Seeker, Pilgrim, Wanderer. Pioneer, Individualist, Iconoclast and Adventurer. You will recognise them in Indiana Jones, James T. Kirk. Peter Pan, Huckleberry Finn, the Great Gatsby and Marco Polo and they figure in the earliest known stories, The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey, where Odysseus is the ultimate Wanderer.

Explorers are authentic, fulfilled, curious, individual, unique, ambitious, autonomous and always true to themselves. Their goal is discovery, to experience a more authentic and fulfilling life by using their freedom to explore the world. They can fall into self-indulgence if they are not given this freedom. Their biggest fears are feeling trapped and conformity.

The Explorer is a perfect archetype if your brand helps people be free, is pioneering, is rugged and sturdy, is used on the road and in the wild, helps people express their individuality, can be purchased and consumed on the go or if you want to differentiate yourself from a more conformist brand.

Apart from other brands which others use this archetype? Heineken’s current slogan is ‘open your world’ and their communication talks frequently about exploration and discovery. are also an explorer brand with their name evoking the amazon river and their ‘a to z’ focus on giving all their customers access to the right choices for them (the long tail of Chris Anderson’s book).

Finally, Starbucks name, imagery and retail experience use the Explorer archetype to great effect. The archetype can be seen in the green colour of the logo (not the original colour) and the image of the sea goddess. They also emphasise choice and their ability to customise every drink for every customer. The name is taken from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – Starbucks is the name of the first mate on the Pequot. And Starbucks (and their leader Howard Schultz) try very hard to express authenticity in their opinions, in their support of environmental causes and their referencing of exotic places as well as in their packaging and retail design.

At the most basic level, Explorers like to hit the open road, get into nature and explore exotic places, to stop themselves from becoming restless, alienated and bored. As they progress they seek their own individuality in order to be more fulfilled, and ultimately are truly able to express their individuality and uniqueness.

The grass is always greener on the other side! If you have a constant itch to explore and the need to find your true identity and be authentic, you are an Explorer.


The Hero and the Outlaw by Mark & Pearson

Brand Meaning by Mark Batey

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