12 Brand Archetypes
You may have heard of brand archetypes before, but have you ever stopped to consider how they apply to the success of your brand? Or even how they could influence your strategy and communication? When used correctly, brand archetypes actually have the power to help identify your brand’s best features.
However, it is understandable if you have never come across the word archetype before, as this topic is still widely undiscovered outside of the marketing world.
The definition of an archetype is a collectively inherited, unconscious idea/pattern of thought or image universally present in individual characteristics. Sounds really complicated, right? But, you can find a modern example of an archetype by just looking at a character in the latest blockbuster or bestselling book. For example, some people may go as far as saying that they “love” their favourite brands, that their connection with them is based on feelings. But some may say it sounds stupid to say that you have feelings for a brand and never understand this statement.
However, the answer lies in how that specific brand makes you feel, the way they communicate with you, and the values that brand holds. Some of the most loved brands are successful because they tailor their communication through personality that satisfies the consumer and evokes positive feelings.
“Experts estimate 90% of all purchase decisions are made subconsciously.”
In the marketing world, a brand archetype is a genre you assign to your brand based upon symbolism. This can embed your brand identity, assign brand culture and guide your brand strategy in order to be successful. Carl Jung, a psychologist, is the main person responsible for creating the 12 brand archetypes and documented them in his book, `The Hero and the Outlaw`, which brings the personalities of the 12 archetypes to life. Secondly, by determining your brand’s archetype, you give it a personality and meaning that can be portrayed to your target audience successfully.
After all, today’s consumers don’t just buy products, they are much savvier; they buy the meaning and the reputation behind the brand. Therefore, today’s consumers create a brand persona: a personality behind that brand that influences their decision whether to buy that product or not. Furthermore, leveraging your brand archetype is the most powerful way to unlock its true potential and aid you to building a successful marketing strategy.
Consequently, we understand that finding your voice as a small business and deciding on your personality for the future can be difficult and appear to be an extremely daunting task.
However, once you have found the archetype that suits your brand, your marketing department can begin to talk the way they talk, share what they share and embrace the personality behind your brand to add further value for the consumers. Sticking to one brand archetype can save you time, money and help you interact with your customers more successfully.
Some design and marketing agencies will charge a fortune to create a unique persona for your brand; however, it needn’t be that complicated (or expensive). You can book a FREE design consultation with our team; we can sit down and chat about what makes you, you, and decide together which archetype suits your brand well enough to be successful.
The earlier on in your company’s journey that you uncover your brand’s true identity – the character your brand is meant to live out – the sooner your team can begin living it, and leaving a lasting impression in your audience’s minds.
As it’s December, we thought we would make this blog a little bit more festive by using some festive character examples, in order to explain these archetypes more easily.
So, let’s start with archetype number one…
The first archetype is The Innocent, and their main priority is to simply be happy.
The Innocent customer profile prefers straight-talking, gimmick free advertising; at their very best,
they are brave and determined.
The first character for the Innocent archetype would be Mr Poppy from the film, The Nativity.
Anyone who has seen this movie will understand that Mr Poppy’s main priority is certainly to be happy; providing positivity, a sense of fun, and very strong values when it comes to entertaining and caring for the children at his school.
Companies that adopt the Innocent archetype normally have similar traits to Mr Poppy himself: strong values, trustworthy, reliable and honest. Therefore, an example of an Innocent company would be Dove.
Dove’s overall brand personality highly reflects the traits of the Innocent archetype. Dove have recognised that the image of beauty, as widely promoted by the industry itself, is not realistic and instead have offered a simple solution for women around the world to accept and love themselves the way they are. This strong statement links to an archetypal personality trait of being honest, and by encouraging women to be happy in their own skin fits the motive of an Innocent – which is to simply be happy. However, Dove seems to exemplify the Innocent with the goal of achieving a pure life by doing the right things. In other words, to be happy, ‘free to be yourself’ could be the motto of this archetype and fit Dove’s mission perfectly
2. The Everyman
The main priority of this archetype is to connect with others; they are down to earth, show a sense of belonging and the common touch.
In a company form, at their best they are friendly, empathetic and reliable – appreciating quality and dependability in their brands.
They prefer the familiar to the strange and will emotionally invest in brands that they trust.
For this archetype we thought of Arthur Christmas, a seemingly regular guy who is friendly and reliable.
An Everyman character like Arthur Christmas tends to demonstrate the ideals of hard work and honesty, and embrace common sense values. A company of this archetype would not promote ‘luxury’ items or buy items to boost their status level; they simply just appreciate quality and reliability in their products.
An example of an Everyman company would be PG Tips; all their adverts are set in a typically British setting, and just by enjoying a cup of PG Tips, they can make you feel at home. Their adverts show real people, all feeling equal by enjoying a cup of PG Tips. It shows Everyman personality traits by giving people a sense of belonging: an everyday functionality at a low to moderate price
3. The Hero
This particular archetype is bold, strong and confident; in terms of a brand they have a positive impact on the world and their customers.
The customers of these particular brands value quality and efficiency in their products.
The stereotypical customer of these brands feels empowered by this brand and its impact on the world.
In relation to Christmas, we chose Jack Skellington as our Hero archetype, as he is a character who wants to help improve his world and we think could be influenced by strong, powerful brands.
Jack follows the formula of a tragic hero; he tends to be enthusiastic, inclusive and expresses his opinions in order to cause change.
We would say that Nike is an example of a Hero company, as they strive to make an impact on the world of sport. Known for its ‘Just Do It’ campaigns, Nike pioneered the way for regular people to step into the shoes of their athlete idols. Advertisements ask customers to step outside of their ordinary worlds to reach the peak of performance; they ask customers to stop being fans and start pushing them to become stars again.
Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are known as Hero archetypes; they thrive where challenges await them and make the world a better place by ‘fighting the bad guy’, Nike carry the persona of thriving when a challenge awaits them – their famous slogan, ‘Just Do It’ is a prime example of this.
4. The Outlaw
Known for being rebellious, wild, and paving the way for change, Outlaw brands are noticeably different and don’t like to follow everybody else’s rules.
The customer personas of these brands appreciate the unconventional and forcefully reject anything seen as traditional.
Our Christmas character for this archetype would be The Grinch, of course – a clearly out of control character who strives to break the rules and fight authority (or just simply anything Christmas).
Comparing this to an existing company we would say that the nearest company for this persona would be Virgin. Firstly, just the name of the company itself is outlandish and rebelling against the boundaries of acceptability – bearing in mind that this would have been an incredibly rebellious name back in the 80s.
Whatever industry Virgin have been part of, whether it be banking, travel, entertainment or communication, they have been one of the most disruptive brands with an incredible curiosity to become early adopters of pretty much everything!
5. The Explorer
The Explorer archetype stems from a need to be individualistic and have purpose or meaning. This archetype strives to answer the questions “What am I here for?” and “What is my purpose?” by exploring and learning from the world around it.
Adventure is a means of enlightenment and the Explorer is focused on self-discovery and self-sufficiency.
Our festive character for this archetype would be Hero Boy (Chris) from the movie Polar Express. This Christmas movie is all about an adventure, exploring and the desire for discovery, therefore the main character Chris would fit the Explorer archetype perfectly.
An Explorer consumer is always looking for new experiences to make them feel alive, to strive through their independence and to have a promise of adventure.
Red Bull is a great example of an Explorer company; they are pioneering, adventurous and are the complete opposite of corporate. They are well known for sponsoring adventurous and extreme sport events that match their personality.
Tending to be critical of the establishment, the Explorer desires to be free from constraints; but instead of challenging the establishment (as a Hero or Outlaw might), the Explorer simply goes off in a different direction, seeking a new path. Ultimately, all it desires is the freedom and joy of discovery.
6. The Creator
They can also be known as the inventor, artist, writer or even an entrepreneur. Their main aim is to create something with meaning and enduring value.
A Creator company promotes self-expression, gives customers choices and helps foster innovation.
If your organisation has a creative culture and you want to help customers express their imagination, you should follow a Creator marketing strategy.
Our festive character for the Creator would be the Christmas elves, the best toy designers and artists around stimulating the imagination of the children to create their gifts.
An example of a Creator company would be Lego; it is almost self-explanatory as to why we have used this company as an example of a Creator archetype. Its famous product is one of the most popular creative toys in the world and the company’s mission “to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow” proves that the brand is truly committed to developing the creativity of children and stimulating their imagination.
Therefore, if you thought the Creator is the brand archetype that you should approach and portray then you could start by working on creative designs, prints and spark imagination through your creative branding.
7. The Ruler
The Ruler archetype creates order from chaos, is seen as a leader and a role model.
A great example for The Ruler would be the Queen her majesty herself, linking her to the Christmas theme with her royal speech every year on Christmas day. It has become tradition in most UK households to sit and listen to the Queens speech.
An example of a Ruler company would be Rolex, a sophisticated brand that is one of the clear leaders in their industry; they have dominated the industry for high-end watches for over a century. The image of a Rolex promises power and the status associated to it aligns with the traits of a Ruler archetype. Therefore, it is obvious that Ruler consumers are typically concerned with image, status or prestige products. They are drawn towards Ruler brands to use their products to influence how others perceive them.
Your Ruler archetype might be good for your brand identity if;
- It empowers people to maintain or enhance their grip on power.
- You want to differentiate it from more populist brands or one that is a clear leader in the field.
- It makes people more organised.
8. The Magician
The eighth archetype is `The Magician`, known for being visionary, imaginative, and inspiring change.
A clear company example of this would be Disney, making magical moments come true for everyone.
Of course, the most magical festive character of Christmas is Father Christmas whose main aim is to make dreams come true.
If your brand suits The Magician identity, then your consumers may like inspirational messages and images that can help foster their imagination. For example, taking a look at Disney’s branding you can see these characteristics stand out in their tone and image choices.
The Magician could be the right identity for your brand if the product or service is transformative, helps people transform their world, inspire change and foster imagination.
9. The Lover
As you can tell from the title, this archetype is all about creating relationships and evoking emotions.
This type of archetype wants to make people feel special, passionate and represents
anything that pleasures the senses – beautiful things, indulgent foods, perfume.
Sam from Love Actually would be the perfect example of `The Lover` archetype. His dedication to seek Joannes love and the efforts he goes to just to create a relationship with her , shows his loving characteristics.
An example of a company that uses the Lover identity would be Dior, who promote themselves as glamorous with an emphasis on sensual pleasure.
The typical lover consumer wants to feel special, valued and they want brands that love them back. If their needs aren’t met, brands risks losing them to a competitor that can make them feel special again. Also, Lover consumers are likely to be drawn to premium brands that will make them seem more attractive to others.
10. The Caregiver
The main mission of a Caregiver archetype is to care for and protect others, they normally help people care for themselves
or offer a caring service in some form.
Brand categories that typically exemplify the Caregiver include insurance, healthcare and baby products.
The festive character we would associate with this archetype would be Cindy Lou Who. She is a caring, protecting character that always sees the good in people – even the Grinch! Her personality and empathetic nature would show clear traits that make her a Caregiver.
For example, Johnson & Johnson’s ads appeal to the Caregiver archetype because their products are affordable and needed for at home care. They feature mothers, who are prominently the biggest care-giving character, routinely using their products to provide comfort for their babies.
If your brand supports families, offers a service which could be seen as caring or protecting, or is a non-profit charity, then your archetype would certainly be the Caregiver.
By showing that you are caring for others, this builds trust and reliability in your brand to provide what they promise. Therefore, this should be a main brand value for the company; otherwise it may cause some confusion.
11. The Jester
As the name demonstrates, brands that adapt this persona like to bring joy to the world and fear boredom over everything.
Jester brands motivate people to see the value of having fun, connecting with their inner child and standing out from the crowd.
Our festive comparison for this archetype is Olaf from the film Frozen, who I think we can all agree is definitely a Jester character.
They also have a strong ability to think outside of the box, which means that their ideas are normally very creative and innovative. Additionally, Jester brands promise entertainment, light-hearted content and a good time. The marketing of Jester brands may be unconventional, some may even say unprofessional, but the bright coloured, high energy content they produce fits their target audience perfectly. Jester brands are normally associated with younger people, for example Smiggle, the stationery store, whose motto is ‘Where a smile meets a giggle’.
However, there are some Jester brands that no matter what age you are still promise to release your inner child. For example, Skittles, their adverts are anything but boring and use a playful, unusual marketing strategy that attracts customers.
12. The Sage
Finally, the last archetype is the Sage and their main goal is to help the world gain wisdom.
Sage brands promise learning, teaching knowledge and are normally a source for information.
Our festive example for this archetype would be Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life, Clarence is like that hilarious uncle but he is also incredibly wise! He provides support, learning and teaching to George to show him just how wonderful life can be.
The voice and vibe of these brands are normally analytical, informative, factual and researched. They normally also publish statistics and provide facts.
The Sage brand archetype seeks the truth and wants to find the good and the wisdom in all situations. Sage brands will promise learning and teaching knowledge and therefore will often make use of their higher levels of vocabulary or symbolic imagery. Guided by truth-seeking, the Sage is most fulfilled by finding answers to the most challenging questions. Whilst demonstrating intelligence, knowledge and keen problem-solving skills, Google is probably the most significant Sage of our time.
Customers of the Sage believe that knowledge and information comes from growth and is constantly looking for new sources of information. Customers are likely to be drawn in by advertising that challenges them to think in a completely different or new way.
- It provides expertise or information to customers.
- It encourages customers to think.
- It is based on new scientific findings or esoteric knowledge
- It can be supported by research-based facts.
- Wants to differentiate themselves from others, whose quality or performance is suspect.
- Helps people to better understand the world, provide practical information and analysis.
Another example of a Sage company would be BBC News, their main motto is to help people understand and provide help.