Think of the most iconic brands you know. The most powerful ones are not simply known for their products or services but for the stories they tell and the emotions they evoke. These brands have a robust identity, almost like a human personality, don’t they? This is no coincidence. It’s a strategic marketing technique called brand archetypes.
In this article, we’ll delve into the captivating realm of brand archetypes, exploring their significance and how they can revolutionise your brand identity. If you’re ready for your brand to resonate with your audience in an impactful, meaningful way, then you’re in for quite a ride!
What Is a Brand Archetype?
Imagine brand archetypes in business strategy as the secret sauce that makes our brand not just a logo but a living, breathing entity that truly vibes with consumers. A brand archetype isn’t just a fancy term; it’s the heart and soul, capturing the essence of our brand’s personality, values, and the driving forces that keep us moving forward. In fact, there’s a high probability that a brand archetype has influenced your latest buying decisions.
Think of these archetypes as storytellers, drawing inspiration from characters and themes we all recognise, touching on those feelings and connections that are part of being human. It’s more than a strategy; it’s like infusing our brand with a dose of relatability and authenticity.
These archetypal frameworks aren’t just cold concepts—they embody traits and qualities that make people instinctively nod in understanding. It’s like forging a connection that goes beyond a transaction; it’s about making our brand feel relatable, more human, and downright unforgettable.
Choosing a specific archetype for your brand isn’t just a business decision; it’s like setting the stage for your brand’s unique story. It’s about creating an experience that lingers in the hearts and minds of your audience, making your brand a part of their story too.
History of the Brand Archetype
The inception of brand archetypes dates back to the 1940s when esteemed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung introduced a set of common personality archetypes. Jung believed that these archetypes were inherent and hereditary, symbolising the quintessential image of a person that crosses linguistic, cultural, and temporal barriers.
As individuals, we’re capable of recognising and connecting with these archetypes intuitively. They subtly shape our behaviour, leading to standard behavioural patterns, desires, values, and motivations, all steered by a single dominant goal.
It’s crucial to distinguish archetypes from personas. The term ‘persona’, a derivative from Latin meaning ‘mask’, denotes the image we strive to project to the world. Unlike our unconscious archetype, our personas are conscious constructs within our control, displaying elements of our unconscious archetype or external influences like social norms.
Jungian archetypes encompass the Self, Anima, Animus, Shadow, Persona, Father, Mother, Child, Wise Old, Hero, Trickster and Maiden. Each archetype communicates a potent story that universally resonates, offering a tool for brands to relate more humanely and memorably with their audience.
The 12 Brand Archetypes
Derived from Carl Jung’s original set, there are 12 archetypes. As we delve into each one, consider how they might align with your brand’s vision and mission. The goal here isn’t to simply pick an archetype that sounds appealing, but one that genuinely reflects the essence of your brand.
The first of the twelve brand archetypes proposed by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung is the Creator. The Creator archetype brims with a potent vision and a burning desire to manifest an enduring product or experience that encapsulates that vision. Often rebels at heart, these are the non-conformists, the innovators who dare to think differently and push relentlessly at the boundaries of creativity and design. They inspire others to unfurl their creative wings, expressing themselves through the products they produce and the experiences they weave.
The Creator brand wants to craft the perfect product or service. Pursuing innovation with relentless fervour, they harness their creativity to solve problems and breathe life into their vision. Their brand message is an invigorating call to think differently, to break free from the shackles of the conventional, and to embrace originality.
The Sage brand archetype, also known as ‘senex’ (Latin for ‘old man’), is a notable figure in Jung’s archetypes and is best understood as the pursuer of knowledge and wisdom. Unlike other archetypes that strive to enact change directly, The Sage believes in the power of truth as a liberating force. They strive to uncover valuable insights and share them, empowering others to effect change. This archetype is often embodied by life-long learners, thought leaders, and exceptional mentors.
The ultimate desire of The Sage archetype is to seek the truth. Guided by a clear strategy to garner information and knowledge, their primary goal is to achieve understanding. Their brand message is simple yet powerful, proclaiming, “The truth will set you free.”
The Caregiver brand archetype always put their customers first, and this needs to be reflected in everything — from their products and packaging to advertisements and overall brand voice. This archetype is driven by a need to make others feel nurtured and secure, and they will go to great lengths to protect those who are less fortunate. Often embodied by maternity figures, the Caregiver brands find their place in professions that revolve around caring for others, such as teaching, charity work, and particularly nursing.
Their primary desire is to care for, protect, and nurture others. This sense of duty guides their goals and strategy: the ultimate aim is to help others, and they achieve this by doing things for other people. The brand message they convey is one of empathy and kindness: “Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.”
The Innocent brand archetype represents brands that strive to bring joy into the world. Enveloped in a radiant aura of positivity and optimism, these brands seek to keep ill-will at bay, preferring to imbue the world with wonder and delight. Brands that align with the Innocent archetype are often marked by their honesty, good virtues, and simplicity, favouring these over cutting-edge innovation.
This archetype’s core desire is to foster love, peace, and happiness for all, with their ultimate goal being to spread happiness. Their strategy boils down to adhering to one fundamental principle: doing the right thing. The brand message they convey is a reflection of their optimistic outlook, asserting, “The glass is half full.”
The Jester archetype epitomises brands that want to fill the world with laughter and lightheartedness, putting a playful twist on everything they do. Jester brands maintains a jovial disposition, always finding a silver lining even in the most challenging situations. Their core desire is to enjoy life to its fullest and bring fun into their surroundings.
Aiming for entertainment, their strategy is rooted in embracing playfulness and fun. The brand message they project to the world is simple yet powerful: “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.” Consistently, the Jester personality embodies traits of playfulness, humour, positivity, togetherness, and a knack for turning everyday events into funny anecdotes.
The Magician brand archetype is a visionary, driven by a desire to create something awe-inspiring that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. They thrive on the element of surprise, using their unique vision to craft magical moments that leave indelible imprints on their audience’s memory.
The core aspiration of the Magician is to make dreams come true, and their strategy involves steadfastly adhering to their unique vision. The Magician’s brand message is as captivating as it is ambitious: “Make the impossible, possible.” This archetype brims with transformational energy, charisma, imagination, idealism, and insight, using these qualities to mould reality according to its vision. Brands that provide goods or services that take their customers on a transformational journey (worn out to new; lost to found) could consider the Magician archetype as the personality to connect with their audience on a deeper level and show that they have an authentic brand purpose.
The Ruler archetype is characterised by a strong desire for power and control. Individuals with this personality type take great pleasure in setting and adhering to rules, expecting others to do the same. The Ruler brand is exceptionally confident, boasting robust leadership skills and a deep-rooted sense of pride in its expertise. However, they are also reliable and stable personalities.
Their ultimate goal is success, and their strategy revolves around leading and creating exclusivity. The key message their brand conveys aptly encapsulates their approach to life: “Laughter is the world’s best medicine.” When we examine the traits of the Ruler, we see a blend of power, status, success, wealth, and loyalty.
The Hero brand archetype These brands are driven by a profound need for mastery and a commitment to making a difference. The Hero benefit from using high-achievers that customers can relate to as the face of their brand. These brands inspires others to reach beyond their limits, exemplifying that success is the fruit of hard work and relentless effort.
Their audacious approach to facing challenges head-on sets them apart, infusing their work with a sense of importance and empowerment. Their core desire is mastery, and their goal is to transform the world through courage. The strategy Hero brands adopts is one of motivation and encouragement, leading by example and showing others the way forward.
The Everyman archetype represents brands that are unpretentious, relatable, and approachable. Their primary objective is to forge deep and meaningful connections with their audience, fostering a sense of community and belonging. Everyman brands are often quite generalised, eschewing extremes of character or opinion in favour of inclusivity.
They are the friendly, dependable neighbor-next-door whose down-to-earth demeanour and trustworthiness make them an essential part of the community. Their brand message reflects this ethos: “Live together in harmony.”
The Outlaw, also known as the Rebel, is a brand archetype that thrives on disrupting the status quo and breaking free from imposed constraints. Brimming with audacity and a spirit of non-conformity, these brands are not afraid to take risks, rip up the rule book, and construct new paradigms. The Rebel archetype prides itself on its free-thinking ethos and is comfortable being a square peg in a round hole. Its desire? Revolution. Its goal? Disruption.
With a strategic approach that involves shaking up the industry and doing things differently, Rebel’s brand message is as daring as it is simple: “Rules are made to be broken”. This archetype is characterised by its disruptive and confrontational nature, it is yearning for liberation, and its staunch independence. It seeks change not just for the sake of being different, but to inspire a new way of thinking.
The Explorer brand archetype represents brands that are driven by the desire for freedom and the thrill of discovery. These brands are not bound by traditional boundaries and have a natural tendency to push beyond the known, venturing into unexplored territories. Explorer archetypes detest conformity but veer towards exploration rather than disruption.
Their unquenchable desire for discovery fuels their journey into the unknown, uncovering new challenges and goals. These brands personify adventure, bravery, and an incessant pursuit of discovery. Their ultimate goal is excitement and fulfilment, and their strategy is taking their unique path. The brand message they deliver is invigorating and inspiring: “Seek out new things and set yourself free.”
The Lover archetype encapsulates brands that are passionate, intimate, and driven by desire. Their strategy centres around making themselves physically and emotionally desirable to their target audience, appealing to the senses, and fostering deep emotional connections.
This archetype is not limited to the sensual; Lover brands can also be spiritual, companionable, and family-oriented. Their ultimate desire is to connect with their audience, with intimacy being their primary goal. The brand message they deliver is both simple and profound: “Love makes the world go round.”
How to Use the Archetypes to Create a Brand Strategy for Your Business
These archetypes help entrepreneurs craft a relatable and consistent brand personality, but they also help you connect with your audience on a deeper, more emotional level. Here’s how you can use brand archetypes to shape your brand story and build a brand that resonates with your target audience.
Acknowledge the Potential of Your Brand
Recognizing the potential of your brand means understanding the unique value you bring to the market. It’s not just about your products or services, but also your values, vision, and the experience you provide to your customers. Take a moment to ask yourself: what differentiates your brand from the competition? Dive deep into the essence of your brand, discover its strengths, and leverage them. You might be a Rebel in a traditional market, an Explorer in a dynamic industry, or a Lover in a transactional world.
Look at Your Values and Mission
Your brand should highlight your company’s values and mission. They embody the essence and ethos that guide your brand’s actions, decisions, and interactions. Take a close look at your core values. Do they align with the archetype you’ve chosen? Your mission statement should also reflect the sentiments of your archetype, whether it’s the rebellious spirit of the Rebel, the adventurous nature of the Explorer, or the passionate energy of the Lover.
Your brand’s values and mission go beyond mere statements; they represent a commitment to your audience and mirror how you intend to shape their experience. They should truly embody your archetype, acting as a guiding light on your brand’s journey in the marketplace.
Understand Your Customers
The archetype you choose must reflect the expectations, preferences, and emotions of your target audience. Who are they? What are their passions, needs, and desires? How do they perceive your brand? Understanding these aspects deeply allows you to align your brand archetype with the sentiments of your audience, creating a meaningful and emotional connection.
For example, if your customers value innovation and challenging the status quo, they may resonate with the Rebel brand archetype. On the other hand, if they value intimacy and deep connections, the Lover archetype might appeal to them.
Build on Emotion
Building on emotion is a critical step in shaping your brand strategy. Emotions have a powerful influence on customer decisions and brand loyalty. Your chosen archetype should evoke the right emotional responses to connect with your audience. If you’re a Rebel, make them feel liberated and bold. If you’re an Explorer, ignite a sense of adventure and discovery.
As a Lover, inspire intimacy and deep emotional connections. Emotionally charged experiences are memorable and can turn casual customers into passionate brand advocates. However, it’s important to stay authentic. Fake emotions can easily backfire and harm your brand’s reputation. Strive for sincerity by aligning your emotional appeal with your brand’s true character and your audience’s genuine desires.
Use Symbolism for a Stronger Connection
Symbols are like powerful storytelling companions that create a strong bond between your brand and its audience. They work as visual cues, evoking emotions and associations that amplify your brand’s message. For example, an Explorer brand might use symbols of mountains, compasses, or open roads to represent freedom and discovery.
On the other hand, a Lover brand could incorporate heart shapes or warm colors to convey intimacy and passion. Choose symbols that align with your brand’s personality and resonate with your audience’s experiences and aspirations. Implement them consistently across your branding materials, from your logo to your advertising.
Review and Apply the Right Archetype
Once you’ve grasped the essence of your brand and your customers, it’s time to review and apply the appropriate archetype. This isn’t a one-time process, but rather an ongoing cycle of monitoring, analyzing, and tweaking. Take a moment to assess whether the chosen archetype truly reflects your brand’s personality and aligns with your customers’ perceptions and desires.
Is your message resonating? Are you evoking the right emotions? Being open to re-evaluation and adjustment is vital in maintaining relevance and resonance in an ever-evolving marketplace. Once you’re confident in your choice, make sure to consistently apply the archetype across all touchpoints.
Popular Brand Archetype Examples
To better understand the idea of archetypes, let’s see examples of some popular examples. These will illustrate how successful companies have clearly defined archetypes that shape their brand perception and help them connect with customers on an emotional level. Gain practical insights and inspiration for your brand strategy.
The Creator: Apple, Lego, Adobe, GoPro, and Crayola. They pioneer groundbreaking products that change the world, igniting creativity in users.
The Sage: TED, Google, BBC, Discovery Channel, and The Times. They share knowledge and promote understanding, becoming beacons of truth.
The Caregiver: Unicef, Johnson & Johnson, NHS, Pampers, and Volvo. They demonstrate care and nurturing.
The Innocent: Dove, McDonald’s, Innocent, Coca-Cola, and Volkswagen. They spread joy and positivity.
The Jester: Paddy Power, Budweiser, Skittles, Old Spice, and M&M’s. They bring cheer and liveliness.
The Magician: Disney, Dyson, TUI, Polaroid, and MAC Cosmetics. They innovate and transform.
The Ruler: Microsoft, Rolls Royce, Rolex, and Hugo Boss. They symbolize power and success.
The Hero: Nike, BMW, FedEx, Adidas, and The Royal Marines. They overcome adversity and champion courage.
The Everyman: Tesco, Lynx, Ford, Levis, and Ikea. They resonate with everyday individuals.
The Outlaw: Harley-Davidson, Uber, Diesel, Greenpeace, and Red Bull. They rebel and disrupt.
The Explorer: NASA, Jeep, The North Face, Subaru, and National Geographic. They pursue adventure and discovery.
The Lover: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva, Anne Summers, Alfa Romeo, and Chanel. They emphasize passion and desirability.
The Power of Archetypes in Today’s Society
The power of archetypes in today’s society is undeniable and pervasive, reaching across everything from narrative art forms to marketing strategies. These archetypes draw upon the rich tapestry of human psychology and ancient storytelling. They serve as the cornerstone of emotional resonance, creating an immediate sense of familiarity and connection. Even before their adoption in marketing and brand positioning, archetypes have been integral to literature, films, and the stories of entrepreneurs and historical figures.
For instance, think of Yoda from Star Wars or Gandalf the Grey from The Lord of the Rings. They embody the Sage archetype, guiding their charges with wisdom and insight. Similarly, characters like King Lear from Shakespeare’s play or Tony Soprano from the television series The Sopranos represent the Ruler archetype, their narratives deeply entwined with themes of power and sovereignty. And who can forget Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, or the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare’s tragedy? They symbolize the Lover archetype, their stories suffused with passion and desire.
Similarly, brand archetypes help strategically align brands with values and vision, creating a persona that resonates with the audience. This differentiation fosters a stronger relationship and influences purchasing decisions. As we navigate the world of brands, these archetypal narratives stir emotions, subtly shaping perceptions and preferences.
Can a brand have multiple archetypes?
Indeed, you can have multiple archetypes for your business, but it’s generally recommended to focus on one primary archetype. This approach helps to maintain clarity and consistency in your brand’s messaging and positioning. However, a secondary archetype can be used to enrich and diversify your brand’s personality, adding depth and dimension.
The key is to ensure that any secondary archetype complements, rather than contradicts, your primary archetype. This helps to avoid confusion and foster a cohesive brand identity that resonates strongly with your target audience.
What is the difference between brand archetype and brand personality?
Brand brand archetype and personality are closely related but distinct concepts. Brand personality refers to the set of human characteristics associated with a brand, influencing how the brand communicates and behaves. It may include traits such as sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, or ruggedness.
On the other hand, a brand archetype is a universally understood symbol or term that encapsulates a brand’s personality, ethos, and values in a way that resonates with consumers’ subconscious. While brand personality sets the tone of voice for brand interactions, brand archetypes dive deeper, connecting the brand to timeless elements of storytelling and human psychology.
What is the most popular archetype?
There isn’t necessarily a “most popular” archetype as the effectiveness of a brand archetype depends greatly on the brand’s target audience, mission, and values. However, some archetypes are commonly seen across different industries. For instance, the Hero archetype appeals to brands that are driven by performance and overcoming challenges, such as sportswear or automotive companies.
The Caregiver archetype is often considered to be the perfect archetype for brands in the healthcare, childcare, and non-profit industries. Meanwhile, tech giants often align with the Creator archetype, emphasizing their commitment to innovation and originality. It’s important to note, though, that finding your brand archetype is not defined by popularity, but by authenticity and alignment with its overall branding strategy.
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