The Magician Archetype
By: Shweta Soman, Deepa Soman
Having introduced the concept of Archetypes in the previous article, let us have an in-depth look at one archetype in particular viz. the Magician.
The Magician, associated with mystery and transformation, is a thinker who seeks power through knowledge. Often perceived as gifted, intelligent or intuitive, his/her abilities seem almost magical to onlookers. Magicians aim to understand the way the world works and appear to operate on a plane above everyone else. They often leave people mesmerized and amazed by their seemingly otherworldly capabilities. The Magician archetype may also beknown by other names such as visionary, catalyst, healer, charismatic leader or inventor. Magicians tend to dazzle onlookers with grand ventures and the ability to accomplish great tasks. They have highly influential personalities with the ability to transform people’s feelings or perspectives about almost anything. Following is an overview of the Magician Archetype.
Goal: To make dreams come true, understand the laws of the universe
Greatest fear: Unintended negative consequences
Weakness: Becoming manipulative
Talent: Finding win-win solutions, imagining a better future
Also known as: Visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man, intuitive, wizard, inventor, transformer
Voice: Expansive, moving and articulate
What customers feel: “I want to experience that,” “I’m on the cutting edge,” fascinated, enchanted
While the Magician archetype is generally invoked by fields that are shrouded in mystery, the manifestation of this archetype has evolved significantly over the years. In the early years, it was embodied by medicine men and shamans followed by alchemists and later by scientists and physicists. It is also seen in products that are exotic or involve a special ritual – swirling brandy or popping a bottle of champagne. Charismatic politicians, entrepreneurs, life coaches and cult leaders are real world examples of Magicians. Krishna from Mahabharata is a classic case of the archetypal Magician. In fiction, the Magician is generally a mentor or a catalyst who encourages the Hero to go on his grand quest to fight evil. He/she will generally operate from the side-lines, always guiding the Hero but never actively participating. However, owing to the tremendous influence that Magicians wield, they can easily fall into the trap of knowingly or unknowingly becoming manipulative.
Brands that embody this archetype 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 crow’s feet and greying 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, consultants)
Apple, with its almost cult-like following, would be a great example of the Magician archetype. Everything from the charismatic leader they had in Steve Jobs to the magic-show like quality that their product unveilings have, perfectly fit this archetype. Their products, particularly the iPhone, promise to transform customers’ lives and all their communication portray them as almost magical. Other brands that fit into this archetype would be MAC, Mary Kay, MasterCard, Dyson and Polaroid.
However, as these brands can sometimes fall into the trap of over-selling the transformational quality of their products, they can often be very polarising. It is also embodied byproducts like nuclear energy due to the secrecy around it and for its usefulness as well as potential for great destruction.
The Magician is perhaps the most powerful archetype of all and, should he manage to successfully avoid his traps, has the potential for causing lasting change and transforming the society for the better.
- Mark, M., Pearson, C. (2001). The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes. New York: McGraw-Hill.