A brand archetype is a way of presenting a brand, its values and messages as an archetypal persona to make it more relatable and recognizable with consumers that share the same values.
Brands acquire relatable and easily accessible characters through brand archetypes, They are a categorization system that uses subtle brand psychology accessible to human understanding of identity.
The 12 brand archetypes are derived from the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his idea of human psychological archetypes.
Brand archetypes based on these Jungian archetypes indicate the brands’ main motivation and driving force - as opposed to brand personality, which describes the brands with adjectives applicable to persons.
How Do Brand Archetypes Inform Brand Identity?
Brand archetypes instate human traits and behavior into the values, mission and vision of a business.
They make it possible for target audiences to discern and differentiate your brand from the competitors through an expression of behavior and communication that speaks to said target audiences.
With brand archetypes, your enterprise can identify and convey its authentic truth that attracts prospective consumers.
The instinctive appeal of archetypes makes it possible for businesses to create a more personal, more believable and stronger brand identity.
How Do Brand Archetypes Inform Brand Positioning?
Your business should find its own brand archetype and align itself with it for these two reasons, above all:
Differentiation: Archetypes and personalities they convey provide multiple possibilities for standing out in the crowd of competitors because they are unique and memorable.
Connection: Archetypes create a deeper connection with your audience because they show a human side of the brand, a collection of traits, yearnings, passions and moods akin to people’s psyche.
By differentiating itself from the rest and connecting with the audience on an emotional and psychological level, your brand will be able to position your products or services in a unique way.
Before You Establish Your Archetype: 3 Details You Need To Define To Make The Right Choice
For young brands or small businesses that do not have a well-developed identity, delving into brand archetypes can help.
But choosing a brand archetype cannot be done at random. There are certain details and facts about your business that you need to define in order to know which brand archetype to pursue.
The most essential business factors that will define your brand archetype are:
Your mission/values: Ask yourself why you do what you do, why did you start your business and what made you get into it? You should also have a clear idea of what constitutes success for you and your company and what values your brand stands for. Mission, values and goals are the core element of every brand archetype and they inform all other traits.
Your target audience: What brand archetype you opt for will largely depend on your audience. A brand archetype and your target audience need to be aligned. What your brand professes has to resonate with your consumers - it will inform the branding strategy and the way in which your products or services will appeal to them. Know your audience. Research your customers, create buyer personas and be deeply informed of their interests and values.
Your niche and industry: As we will see in the 12 brand archetypes section, each archetype tends to do better in certain industries and niches than in others. Some industries are, simply, a better fit for a collection of traits, brand voice, messaging and strategy that each archetype has. Depending on which industry your business is in, you may be closer to defining your own brand archetype.
Once you have identified your values, drawbacks, and goals, you can create a template for your brand of what you want your brand archetype to be.
Some of the questions you can ask yourself here are:
I want my business to make people _
People relate to my business because it is _
My brand strongly associates with these features _
Does my brand motivate my audience?
What is the kind of connection they feel with my brand?
Answering these questions will provide additional help when defining one of the following 12 archetypes for your brand.
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12 Brand Archetypes And How To Align Your Brand With Each
We will now take an in-depth look at each of the 12 brand archetypes and define their brand strategy, personality, voice, messaging and driving forces.
1. The Outlaw: Revolution
The brand archetype of an Outlaw is slightly anarchistic and displays a desire for evolution. The brands that use this archetype can sum up their philosophy as “Rules are made to be broken.”
These brands avoid conformity and regulation and embrace the freedom of choice. The Rebel brand exhibits a slight dose of anger at its core.
The Outlaw’s branding strategy is proving to the outlaw consumer that you share their worldview. They resonate with their audience by rejecting conformity and status quo, empowering and encouraging revolution and using grit and attitude in their tone.
The Outlaw archetype is most commonly used in these industries:
Its brand message can be summed up as inviting people to demand more, get more and don’t settle for the status quo.
The Outlaw brand is driven by:
The Outlaw rejects:
The Outlaw slogan example: Harley Davidson’s “All For Freedom, Freedom For All”
2. The Hero: Determination
The Hero brand archetype takes courage and determination as its main traits. This archetype’s philosophy is “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
The Hero archetype values hard work and take pride in skills attained through this work. It meets challenges without fear and proves its worth to themselves and others.
This archetype’s branding strategy to appeal to the corresponding consumer is inspiring them and empowering them to succeed. Users who embrace brands of the Hero archetype have strong ideas about what is right and see themselves as upstanding.
They look for a brand that acknowledges their ambition to rise.
The Hero archetype is commonly used in:
Emergency services such as electricity, mechanics, plumbing etc.
The Hero’s brand voice is:
Its brand message is about making the world a better place and having the determination to outdo everyone.
The Hero brand archetype is driven by:
The Hero slogan example: Nike’s “Just do it”
3. The Innocent: Safety
The Innocent brand archetype insists on positivity and optimism. The brands using this archetype desire happiness for everyone as well as safety.
Not holding any grudges, the Innocent is honest and pure and believes everyone should be who they truly are deep down.
The Innocent branding strategy is appealing to the target audience with honesty, simplicity and positive messaging. These users associate Innocent brands with safety and recognition.
The Innocent industries and categories are:
Beauty products and cosmetics
Anything body and health-related
The Innocent’s brand voice is:
Their brand messaging can be summed up as “the most wholesome things in life are pure”.
The Innocent branding is driven by:
The Innocent branding rejects:
The Innocent brand slogan example would be Dove’s “Real Beauty”.
The Explorer’s brand personality is that of a drive to push themselves outside the comfort zone and into the unfamiliar environment where they feel natural. These brands advocate bravery and love for adventure and challenge.
This archetype’s branding strategy in appealing to a fellow explored consumer is in challenging them. These brands promote the outdoor and the unknown and invite audiences to explore it with them. They sometimes present modern society as a form of confinement.
The Explorer archetype dominates in these industries:
Automotive SUV category
The Explorer’s brand voice is:
Its brand messaging can be summed up as having only one life and making it count.
The Explorer brands are driven by:
The Explorer brand slogan example is North Face’s “Never stop exploring”
5. The Creator: Innovation
The Creator brand personality is that of being driven by the desire to create new and exceptional things. These brands value expressing themselves through individuality and talent and invite everyone to bring or witness the vision being brought to life.
The Creator’s branding strategy in appealing to target audiences is in acknowledging their creative process and inspiring self-expression.
The Creator brands appear in these verticals:
The Creator’s brand voice is:
Their brand messaging conveys the ability to see the potential and uncover originality and imagination.
The Creator brands are driven by:
They steer clear of:
The Creator’s brand slogan example is Apple’s “Think different”
6. The Everyman: Belonging
The Everyman brand archetype embraces familiarity and belonging. These brands see value in not standing out in the crowd and being just like a “common man”. These brands aren’t over the top in any aspect of their work.
Its strategy is in aligning itself with basic values.
Friendly and easy-going, The Everyman archetype lends trust, is positive and wants to fit into the group. These brands connect with its target audience through a sense of belonging and everyday activities. They fit with the home and family life.
The Everyman industries are:
Automotive family segment
The Everyman brand voice is:
This archetype’s brand message can be summed up as following: treating your audience with friendliness, honesty and living in harmony.
The Everyman branding is motivated by:
These brands do not adopt:
An example of The Everyman brand slogan is Target’s “Expect more, pay less”
7. The Ruler: Control
The Ruler brand archetype communicates and exhibits dominance. These brands value control and are authoritative in their messaging and action. They exert leadership and demonstrate superiority.
They want prosperity and success and they wish to share that with those that follow them. Confidence and responsibility are their traits and they value having control over one’s life.
These brands’ strategy is reaffirming the sense of control, power and respect to appeal to their target audience. They convey a sense of superiority and exclusivity.
The Ruler industries are:
Manufacturers of fine objects such as watches
Any luxury or high-quality brands
The Ruler’s brand voice is:
Their brand messaging is about communicating, being successful in life and work and rewarding oneself for these achievements.
These brands are driven by:
An example of The Ruer brand slogan is Mercedes-Benz’s “The best or nothing”
8. The Sage: Understanding
The Sage archetype in branding presents itself as the seeker of truth and wisdom. These brands profess knowledge and being informed. Their drive is understanding the world and sharing the knowledge with their audience.
The Sage’s branding strategy is appealing to the corresponding consumer and is acknowledging their intelligence. These brands value layered meanings and advanced vocabulary as well as well-researched information.
The Sage brands appear in:
Media and news outlets
Schools and universities
The Sage’s brand voice is:
These brands’ messaging is summed up in using education as the path to wisdom.
These brand are driven by:
The Sage’s brand slogan example is Google’s “Do the right thing”
9. The Jester: Enjoyment
The Jester personality in branding likes to live life to the fullest and be fun for themselves and for all the others. These brands are optimistic and see good in every situation.
Young at heart, The Jester brands appeal to those young at heart and their inner child. In their branding strategy, The Jester brands associate themselves with good times and the light-hearted, positive side of life. They connect with their audience through laughter.
The Jester brands appear in:
The Jester’s brand voice is:
These brands’ messaging can be conveyed as being here for a good time and living life to the fullest.
These brands are driven by:
The Jester brand slogan example is Dollar Shave Club’s “Shave Time. Shave Money.”
10. The Lover: Intimacy
Brands of The Lover archetype desire and want to be desired. They put the experience of intimacy, sensuality and pleasure at the forefront of their values and messaging. They are about becoming more physically and emotionally appealing.
The Lover brands’ strategy is to appeal to Lovers in their audience by making them feel attractive, desired and wanted. They stir the passion and pleasure to connect with these consumers. Their tone of voice is about sensual language and choice of words.
The Lover brands appear in these industries:
Fashion, especially haute couture
The Lover brand voice is:
Their brand messaging conveys the feeling of a striking beauty that is impossible to be ignored.
The Lover brands are driven by:
These brands stay away from:
The Lover brand slogan example is Alfa Romeo’s “The Mechanics of Emotion”
11. The Caregiver: Support
Brands of The Caregiver ilk project their selfless personality and openly state they wish to protect and care for those in need. The Caregiver brands are reactive and preventive and are active wherever there is a harmful event.
Their branding strategy is about helping those in need, which are often those vulnerable and sensitive that require a human touch. They project warm and thoughtful messages and have a generous approach to life and their work.
The Caregiver brands operate in:
Hospitals and medicine
Nonprofits and charity appeals
The Caregiver’s brand voice is:
Its brand message can be summed up as everyone deserving care and bestowing service.
The Caregiver brands are driven by:
Placing others before self
These brands reject:
The Caregiver brand slogan example is Toms’ “One For One”
12. The Magician: Transformation
The Magician brands make dreams come true and they use ways that appear mystical to make that happen. They promise a transformative journey and magical moments.
In their branding strategy, The Magician brands rely on their transformative abilities to appeal to a wider array of personas.
The Magician industries are:
The Magician brand voice is:
Their brand messaging’s gist is about making dreams come true.
These brands are driven by:
Developing a vision to live by
An example of The Magician brand slogan is Disney’s “Where dreams come true”
The 12 brands that follow are all very successful in their respective industries - and they owe their success, in part, to good positioning and the identity their brand archetypes inform.
Harley Davidson (The Outlaw): The motorcycle company creates vehicles that are associated with all of The Outlaw traits of independence, freedom and following their own rules. As one of the most focused archetypal brands, Harley Davidson appeals to the inner outlaws in their target audience.
Nike (The Hero): A sports apparel giant uses top-class athletes in their campaigns to convey a sense of invincibility and heroism. These associations tap into their audience’s affinities as Nike inspires them through these brand ambassadors’ achievements.
Dove (The Innocent): The skincare brand promotes natural ingredients, positive messaging of embracing oneself and simplicity of life. They like to present women more naturally in their marketing campaigns, which gives them the aura of The Innocent archetype.
Jeep (The Explorer): Creator of off-road vehicles, Jeep embraces the ruggedness and affinity for going against the grain of The Explorer archetype. Their advertising campaigns are aimed at users who value exploration and taking the road less traveled.
Apple (The Creator): The IT giant’s inventive spirit and penchant for innovation makes them a perfect example of The Creator archetype. Commonly associated with revolutionary products and trailblazing achievements, the brand calls their audience to do the same and “think different”.
IKEA (The Everyman): The Everyman brands are for all the regular guys and girls out there - and so IKEA, world-famous furniture producer, emphasizes the no-nonsense and genuine qualities in them. Affordability and filling in basic needs is what IKEA conveys, as any of The Everyman brands.
Louis Vuitton (The Ruler): Luxury brands such as this iconic creator of handbags use the imagery and language that depict a lavish lifestyle. Their message is about striving to higher society and affluence.
Google (The Sage): The Sage takes pride in its knowledge but wants others to benefit from it and work on their own. That’s exactly what Google does: the biggest online encyclopedia that has answers for everything, but they simply guide their audience to the answers rather than provide them themselves.
M&Ms (The Jester): These chocolate sweets are fun to eat, come in various colors and add a lighter side to life, which are exactly the values and brand messaging of The Jester archetype.
Victoria’s Secret (The Lover): The lingerie brand whose messaging, imagery and colors is all about sensuality and femininity.
WWF (The Caregiver): The organization that preserves wildlife and professes the interests of the planet and its inhabitants is an ideal example of The Caregiver archetype that places others before themselves.
Disney (The Magician): From their slogan “Where Dreams Come True”, to the iconic pixie dust intro of their movies and the Disneyland theme park, Disney is the embodiment of The Magician archetype, bringing mystery, intrigue and magic into the real world.
Takeaways On Brand Archetypes
Let us summarize the 12 brand archetypes we have covered in this article:
The Outlaw: Seeks rebellion and revolution, questions authority and breaks the rules. Brands that use this archetype: Harley Davidson, Diesel, Virgin.
The Hero: Brave, bold, inspiration, on a mission to improve the world. Brands that use this archetype: BMW, Nike, Red Cross.
The Innocent: Youthful, romantic and optimistic, exudes goodness, safety and happiness. Brands that use this archetype: Dove, Innocent Drinks, Whole Foods.
The Explorer: Thrills of new experiences, inspired by risk, discovery and travel. Brands that use this archetype: Jeep, NASA, National Geographic.
The Creator: Builds things of lasting value and meaning, imaginative and inventive. Brands that use this archetype: Apple, YouTube, Sony.
The Everyman: Supportive, faithful, down-to-earth, wants connection and belonging. Brands that use this archetype: IKEA, Budweiser, GAP.
The Ruler: Controlling, stern, responsible and organized, creates order from chaos. Brands that use this archetype: Mercedes-Benz, Chanel, YSL.
The Sage: Thoughtful advisor that helps with getting insight and wisdom. Brands that use this archetype: University of Oxford, MIT, BBC.
The Jester: Humorous, fun, mischief-making, brings joy to the world. Brands that use this archetype: M&Ms, Dollar Shave Club, Old Spice.
The Lover: Evokes passion, love, commitment and romance, as well as intimate moments. Brands that use this archetype: Alfa Romeo, Victoria’s Secret, Godiva.
The Caregiver: Compassionate, nurturing, generous, protects and cares for others. Brands that use this archetype: WWF, Greenpeace, Campbell's.
The Magician: Visionary and spiritual, creates special things and fulfills dreams. Brands that use this archetype: Disney, Polaroid, MAC Cosmetics.
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