Is the “Unicorn” Concept Right for Your Brand Identity?

Brand Identity-Driven Product Innovation

One of the initial steps in creating a brand identity is building out a persona, including key elements, such as the following:


What will the brand give to consumers?


What is the brand emotionally invested in?


What is the brand’s reason of existence or purpose?

When building a brand persona, marketers are essentially identifying the brand’s specific values and motivations—most are intrinsic to human nature.

A brand archetype can often emerge at this point, as they universally represent some aspect of the human experience. Archetypes are very advantageous in product concept genesis, especially since they are instinctively understood as part of human’s “collective unconscious”.

Generally, there are 12 archetypes widely recognized, each with a set of recognizable traits and goals.



Traits: Passionate, sensual, warm, indulgent

Goal(s): Inspire connectivity and intimacy

purple medal


Traits: Strong, inspirational, empowered, courageous

Goal(s): Solve or overcome challenges to positively change the world

purple wand


Traits: Imaginative, charismatic, ingenious

Goal(s): Motivate change and transform lives creatively

purple outlaw


Traits: Risky, rebellious, wild, nonconforming

Goal(s): Revolutionize societal norms often through questionable means

purple binoculars


Traits: Adventurous, ambitious, pioneering, restless

Goal(s): To discover new experiences

purple eye


Traits: Wise, intelligent, worldly, trustworthy

Goal(s): Share knowledge and provoke curiosity

Purple Smiley


Traits: Carefree, happy, pure, optimistic

Goal(s): Offer goodness and morality

Purple Brush


Traits: Inventive, artistic, entrepreneurial, imaginative

Goal(s): Express creativity and foster innovation

Purple Crown


Traits: Exclusive, powerful, leader, organizer

Goal(s): Ensure order and establish rankings

Purple Hand


Traits: Nurturing, selfless, altruistic, compassionate

Goal(s): Care and protect

Pair of purple hands


Traits: Approachable, relatable, universal, humble

Goal(s): Urge connectivity and belonging

Purple Jester Hat


Traits: Humorous, joyful, entertaining, impulsive

Goal(s): Enlighten through amusement


Ideating around a brand’s archetypal frame of reference while also catering to shifting consumer preferences narrows the focus of product development for greater acceptance. By leveraging an archetype’s attributes in concept development, marketers’ odds of delivering a highly memorable product experience are greater, just given our innate and universal understanding of archetypes. Products successful at activating archetypal complexes can trigger desired manifestations to influence purchase intent.

Is “Unicorn” Right for Your Brand Archetype?

Today, standing out on the physical and digital shelf is very hard. Brands are desperately fighting for attention, and new food brands are consistently popping up and challenging legacy brands. Rising competition increases the pressure of generating memorable and well-researched product ideas. Sensient’s Ideation Team alleviates this challenge by translating consumer and category insights identified by our global marketing network into customized, actionable product opportunities. All ideas are unique to your brand identity, mitigating the potential of brand dilution due to the launch of copycat concepts.

Since brand loyalty is more fickle than ever, authenticity can go a long way with modern consumers. While an extremely visual concept like the unicorn can certainly help catch eyes at the shelf and may even boost quick incremental sales, it could also hurt your credibility and diminish your brand identity. Undoubtedly, many of us have come across a unicorn-themed concept in the last two years, and many are still working to launch their version of the unicorn.

In nearly all of our ideations, Sensient receives requests to develop concepts around the ‘fanciful’—unicorn and mermaid of the greatest demand. With our extensive food color, flavor, sensate, and inclusion portfolio, we embrace this task and have the perfect toolkit to bring any character, creature, and/or abstract concept to life.

The unicorn arguably embodies traits of a few archetypes, but most notably those of the Magician. As the Magician, unicorn-themed concepts represent an escape or transformation into a magical or mysterious realm, a perfect fit for Lucky Charms brand persona and “Magically Delicious” slogan.

The cereal brand’s new unicorn marbit effortlessly activates the “Magician” archetype. It’s easy for consumers to expect unicorns amongst other “magical” beings and objects like leprechauns, rainbows, and shooting stars. The unicorn concept is a slam-dunk here. This is not to say other versions of unicorn concepts have not been a success, but more so, Lucky Charms’ unicorn capitalizes on consumers’ frame of reference without any explanation necessary.


Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman, says that 95% of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind. If a new product concept opposes a brand’s identity or the new product’s attributes disconnect from the brand’s value proposition, it can be detrimental to brand loyalty and engagement. The more instinctive a frame of reference, the more a consumer is likely to enjoy and trust a new product being introduced by a brand.

Is unicorn the right concept for your brand?

Leveraging Brand Archetypes in Concept Development

Sometimes innovation teams are too close to their product concepting and collaboration often occurs within an internal closed circle. Sensient’s Ideation Team can offer a fresh, outside perspective while providing fully researched market concepts presented tangibly for you to experience firsthand i.e. see, touch, taste, etc. Our Ideation Model is an easily adoptable strategy for retailers and manufacturers seeking to streamline new product development. It offers exclusive technical and marketing assistance in these front-end actions of development to mitigate bottlenecking in formulations and idea conception.

Sensient’s Ideation Team embraces the power of archetypes in storytelling and branding to craft unique and actionable new product stories for you. We leverage your brand’s identity, consumer insights, and industry trends to design concepts with attributes built upon your archetypal framework. By applying this information in a constructive and conscious manner, we hope to share concepts that lead to more rewarding consumer experiences.

Ask what is your unicorn

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