The Outlaw Archetype
The Rebel isn’t afraid to speak up, even if that means offending and alienating a few people. A strong believer in their ideals, “The Rebel” is courageous, flexible and a free thinker. These brands appreciate the unconventional and reject the traditional and break away from trends and fads to establish their own.
Fast encroaching ideas and ways of thinking may threaten those who feel disenfranchised or excluded from conventional society. “The Rebel” provides an identity to rally behind and helps those who’re marginalized retain their principles which are threatened by new, encroaching, values. “The Rebel” can either encourage and help their audience challenge convention, or simply help them fit in by providing them with a counter-cultural home.
Rebellious brands usually provide the means and tools to take a departure away from the norm or to rally behind a just cause. This can take place in the form of innovative, game-changing products/services and acting beyond the status-quo. “The Rebel” inspires others to have steadfast belief in their values and to challenge those who threaten their way of life instead of conceding.
The Outlaw – Personality Profile
Common industry trends: Clothing & accessories, motor vehicles, entertainment mediums.
Values: Liberation: unconventional, revolutionary and challenging.
Philosophy: Don’t be scared to go against the grain, even if nobody else does.
Fears: Conforming; being powerless to affect change.
The Outlaw – Brand Examples
The Outlaw is a brand personality that seeks disruption. Deviating from the norm, they’re on a mission to shake things up and aren’t afraid to break a few rules in doing so. Being feared, looked down upon, or regarded as an outcast by the general public isn’t as issue for these brands, since they tend to have a tight-knit, in-group following anyways. There are degrees to this non-conformity, and not every brand is aimed at being a rebel. Here are a few examples from both sides of the spectrum.
Harley Davidson is a motorcycle company that sells the idea of freedom. Moving beyond a brand, many members of Harley Davidson’s audience adopt the brand as both an identity and a lifestyle. In North America, literal outlaws are huge fans of this brand for both their love of the product, and the identity that comes along with it. The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club is one example of a motorcycle organization with criminal ties that operates within North America, and it’s easy to understand why.
Taken to its extreme, Outlaw brands are lifestyle brands that run counter to mainstream culture and ideas. They’re non-traditional, non-conformist, and aren’t afraid of breaking a few rules – a philosophy that isn’t lost amongst many of Harley Davidson’s fans.
In the above video, a female voiceover can be heard monotonously and sarcastically listing off commands of an ordinary life.
“Keep scrolling, stay in bed, order food, do not engage your heart; your mind.”
Harley Davidson aligns the idea of freedom and feeling alive with their motorcycles. They position their products in such a way as if to tell the consumer that if they’re not riding a Harley Davidson, they’re a mindless, consumer slave.
With the help of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, you too could break free from the monotony and live a free, fulfilling life — at least that’s what Harley Davidson would want you to believe.
At the other end of the non-conformity spectrum is MTV. Launching on August 1, 1981, MTV, short for Music Television, sought to make its viewers “never look at music the same way again.” At their inception, they exclusively played music that was considered apart of the mainstream. Shows such as “The Real World,” and alternative music genres (at the time) such as heavy rock and placed MTV firmly on the fringe.
Since its inception, MTV has had a massive influence on American youth culture. The channel was the first one aired on major networks that featured a recognizable “identity.” Their colourful and provocative content appealed to their teenage audience and it remained constantly in flux in order to capture the next generation.
The music and music videos that MTV aired on TV weren’t publicly accepted outside of their fringe following at the time, but that soon changed over the course of a few years as MTV’s branding became more and more artistic. Bizarre sketch-comedy shows, weird cartoons, and alternative music videos served as a safe enclave young twentysomethings looking to find their place in the world.
How to Emulate The Outlaw Brand Personality
Outlaw personalities aren’t afraid to look odd to the general audiences if it means being able to captivate their target one. Breaking a few rules, looking like the odd one out, and being controversial are just some of the ways Outlaw brands stand out against the pack. However, there is a method to the madness, and Outlaw brands won’t go too far if all they’re seeking to do is simply to stir the spot.
Identify your audience, align with their struggles, and make it possible for your brand to be a lifestyle and an identity. Sell the idea and the identity, and the product/service can come afterwards. Harley Davidson and MTV, both corporate entities, are still able to sell ideas of freedom, youth, counter-culture despite having boardroom offices.
A branding strategy needs to be intentional, strategic and heavily researched in order to be effective. While this type of work can be done in-house, we strongly recommend consulting digital marketing specialists such as ourselves for an entire suite of branding services including but not limited to interactive design, content, copy and graphic design and branding and identity.
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