The Ruler archetype is one of the 12 brand archetypes famously referenced in branding. It consists of multiple types of leaders, each determined to control its space.
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The Ruler Archetype
The Ruler archetype is the king or queen of their castle. These brands believe the way to have power is to take it. Weakness is akin to failure and failure is not in a Ruler brand's workbook. The Ruler archetype is an authority, sometimes a role model but always the leader in their space. Ruler brands are well-connected and leverage their connections to control and construct systems that enable them to dominate. These brands can attract wealthy clientele or at least customers that want to see themselves as wealthy.
The way to have power is to take it.
Hugo Boss is an example of the Ruler archetype.
The Ruler Archetype Strengths
Brands with this archetype promise power. Quality over quantity matters to the Ruler. The ruler archetype suits brands that want to be seen as leaders in their space. Choosing a ruler brand carries with it the expectation of a quality experience, and marketing content and customer experience should live up to this. Brands that offer personalisation services can tap into this, such as Brooks Brothers which offers suits made to measure.
Smaller businesses can still position themselves as a leader by classing themselves as exclusive or boutique. Whisky brands, for example, can offer a limited edition cask. In alcohol, a small brand can be more coveted than a brand that offers a mass-produced brew. If a large beverage co absorbs the smaller whisky brand, it can significantly damage the original brand's equity and the larger brand's acquisition loses value. Limits hold value for Ruler brands.
A Ruler brand believes it is the overlord of its field and will never admit defeat publicly.
The Ruler Archetype Characteristics
Rulers don't try to appeal to the masses but they tend to nurture the following characteristics in their branding...
These brands embrace details, order and premium taste.
The Ruler Archetype Family
The Ruler archetype family is remarkable in that the brands that fall into it, like real-world leaders, can truly contrast. The family is broken down into:
- The Sovereign
- The Judge
- The Ambassador
- and the Patriarch
A Patriarchal brand may be a government body or university. The Sovereign brand may offer a 'signature series,' while the Ambassador brand invites others into their version of the world - like the Pope or Oprah. Oprah is an example of a powerful woman of authority, influential in her space with a reach that extends beyond it. To be on the Oprah show is a privilege, she's the first black female billionaire and a committed philanthropist.
The Ruler Archetype Voice
The Ruler is commanding and articulate. They tend to be polished and exude authority. Favourite Calls to Action include:
- View details/Discover the details
- Discover more
- Discover the collection
- Be in know
- The choice is yours
- Reserve yours
- Talk to an expert
- Learn more
The Ruler Archetype Power Words
Power words amplify marketing efforts by evoking emotion and triggering curiosity. Here are some you might integrate into copy for the Ruler archetype:
The Ruler Archetype Colours
Purple has always been a colour associated with royalty, but these brands also embrace black:
Red is a trademark for some Ruler brands like the famous red sole of Louboutin heels. Louboutin run campaigns specifically around the 'lipstick heel', so much so that their shoes have become a statement of a powerful woman. Captions like, 'Pink is for girls, step into womanhood' and, 'Paint the town red.' Louboutin heels make a woman feel strong, sexy and in control. Like a red carpet, but in a shoe.
The Ruler Archetype Examples
Ruler brands like to make the rules and they aren't afraid to dominate. Their very existence can be for the moment of 'checkmate'. Microsoft for example installed its browser Edge by default across all Windows computers. Rulers seize opportunities to expand their empire and this move could be called one of those.
Microsoft 365 is an example of a Ruler brand.
Boasting that it is one of the safest airlines in the world, Qantas has aligned to the Ruler archetype for decades. This brand is an example of a Ruler archetype at its best, and at its worst.
At its best, it was rated one of the most trusted companies in Australia, and in 2022, at its worst, it sat much lower on a commonly used benchmarking survey, RepTrack. The Ruler can be vulnerable to appearing disconnected from its audience, and Qantas suffered significant reputation damage when its CEO took Australian jobs offshore and cut thousands of others. This move provoked public doubt in its ability to continue its track record for safety, impacted the quality of customer service, (a huge blunder for an elite brand) and even resulted in the CEO's family home being 'egged'.
Classic, but not in a ruler way.
The Ruler Archetype On Social Media
The Ruler archetype continues its elite or authoritative persona on social media. Some ruler brands may even see themselves as above it and have no social media accounts at all. Some play king of the castle on select mediums, while others really don't seem to prioritise it. How you should do it will really depend on the kind of ruler your business resonates with the most.
Rolls-Royce leverages LinkedIn, which makes sense seeing those who buy its cars are more likely to be active on the platform. Commonly used hashtags are reflective of brand characteristics, including #luxury and #inspiration. The kicker content is found on the likes of Instagram, where they go all out on their copy. Superfluous blurbs you'd see on premium wine labels. For example: 'Dawn marries peerless craftsmanship with the vitalising freedom of open-top driving...'
Microsoft 365 meanwhile, has a dare I say it... boring... social media account. Posts captioned, 'what is your secret to connecting with your audience?' and 'what topic are you bringing to the next #PowerPointParty?' would make the Jester brand cry. Microsoft is, however, the backbone of enterprise-level IT operations, and has never really attempted to be the life of the party. Am I wrong?
Of course, it would be amiss of me not to use the Royal family as an example of a Ruler brand. The Royals have dedicated social media accounts, and use hashtags discreetly.
Government bodies can be great examples of the Ruler archetype. The High Court of Australia for example uses Twitter exclusively to post about official matters and judgements.
The Ruler Archetype Vulnerabilities
Ruler brands fear being overthrown, and as such can be micromanagers not just over their staff but also their empire. Their need for control can stifle innovation. Their need to expand their territory water down quality. At their worst, ruler brands can be tyrannical, seduced by power and disconnected from their consumer's needs. If you're a ruler brand, being aware of these weaknesses can help you mitigate them.
Read more about brand archetypes.
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