Most people don’t think too hard about why they choose to buy from certain brands over others. They assume that the decision they come to is based on whether the product or service they’re buying is of high quality, or at a price that they can afford.
While the above is certainly important for success, there’s another factor at play that can allow your business to connect with its audience at a single glance - something that makes people feel like they’ve known your brand as a long time friend, when in reality, they only came into contact with each other that same day. And to an extent, maybe they do know your brand. If it follows a brand archetype, that is.
What is a Brand Archetype and Why Do You Need One?
Brand archetypes are a concept that evolved from some of the common personality types defined by psychologist Carl Jung, who believed that everyone possessed innate personalities that transcended the cultures and societies they lived in. Originally, these personality archetypes were designed with individual people in mind, but over time they were adapted to fit new moulds like film and literature characters, and most importantly, brand archetypes, where brands present themselves using factors such as their goals, values, voice, and marketing approach.
But why would you want to shoehorn your brand into an archetype? After all, isn’t a great business built on the foundation of a unique premise? What good could come from changing to fit a predetermined mould?
Though choosing a brand archetype sounds like it would make your brand more generic and therefore easier to forget, it does the opposite. Brand archetypes help to establish an emotional connection with your audience that’ll keep them hooked right from the get go, because they’ll recognise certain attributes in themselves that are reflected in your brand, while simultaneously making it easier for your business to maintain a consistent image across the board
In the modern world of marketing, where hundreds of businesses are comparable online at the simple click of a mouse, individual brands have less time and resources to showcase who they are than ever before. If your brand can’t communicate what it is, who it stands for, and how it operates with only a picture and a few lines of text, then it probably can’t convince people to stick around and find out what makes you unique either.
So, without further ado, here are the 12 main brand archetypes and what they look like, split into four subgroups marking their different priorities.
Group One: Structure and Stability
The caregiver is always looking to help out others, especially those less fortunate than themselves, nurturing people and helping them to look after the things they can’t.
The caregiver's goal is to make people feel safe and secure. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as education, healthcare, and childcare. They will use a brand voice that is caring, warm, and affectionate.
A couple of real-world examples of the caregiver include WWF and Johnson & Johnson.
The ruler demands respect, desiring power and control above all else to create a set of rules for both themselves and others to follow. Rather than forcing others to adhere to these guidelines like a tyrant, however, the ruler is content to claim they are the number one at what they do, and accept those who are able to recognise their greatness to stand by their side.
The ruler likes to feel empowered and superior, always aspiring to reach a higher level than they’re at. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as fashion, finance, and personal care. They will use a brand voice that is firm, authoritative and articulate.
A couple of real-world examples of the ruler include Hugo Boss and Mercedes-Benz.
The Creator is driven by an earnest desire to uproot tradition and innovate the world around them with their ideas, while encouraging everyone else to freely express their opinions too.
The creator prides themselves on being imaginative and unrestrained. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as art, technology and entertainment. They will use a brand voice that is open-minded, daring and inspiring.
A couple of real-world examples of the creator include Lego and Apple.
Group Two: Inner Peace and Growth
The Innocent is somewhat similar to the caregiver, but where the caregiver aims to provide essential products or services to maintain wellbeing, the innocent prefers to spread happiness and good times for everyone to enjoy, and tends to be more lighthearted in nature.
The innocent values trust and contentment. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as food & drink, entertainment and self care. They will use a brand voice that is honest, joyful and respectful.
A couple of real-world examples of the innocent include Coca Cola and Disney.
The Sage values knowledge and wisdom above all else, using what they’ve learned to help others carve their own path in the world, while offering them guidance when needed. While the sage could use what they know to bring about change themselves, they would rather share it to help others succeed just as they have, and perhaps go even further.
The Sage is self-assured and studious. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as news, literature and education. They will use a brand voice that is intellectual, eloquent, and precise.
A couple of real-world examples of the sage include Google and The BBC.
The explorer loves the excitement of the unknown, and is willing to push themselves beyond who they are today to make new discoveries and see the world for themselves. Refusing to shy away from challenges, they are usually the first to step forward into uncharted territory others might shy away from.
The explorer embodies someone who is steadfast and curious. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as transport, science and fashion. They will use a brand voice that is bold, adventurous and bullish.
A couple of real-world examples of the explorer include Jeep and The North Face.
Group Three: Impacting the World
The outlaw possesses the confidence of the ruler, but despises the ruler’s reliance on rules and regulations, instead embracing individualism and chasing their desires with their own strength. The outlaw isn’t afraid to get aggressive and break away from the crowd to get what they want, and uses anarchy to work towards the greater good.
The outlaw gives off an impression of being headstrong and revolutionary. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as finance, transportation and technology. They will use a brand voice that is rebellious, aggressive and disruptive.
A couple of real-world examples of the outlaw include Diesel and Levi’s.
The magician focuses on dazzling those around them with enticing ideas and fantastical miracles, working tirelessly to make the dreams of many a reality. Throwing realism out the window, they let their imagination run wild, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.
The magician creates feelings of curiosity and excitement. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as entertainment, technology, and food & drink. They will use a brand voice that is wondrous, inquisitive and alluring.
A couple of real-world examples of the magician include Nintendo and Dyson.
The hero prides themselves on the hard work and dedication they employ to tackle problems no one else would dare to face head on. While they aim to help others with this approach, the hero doesn’t shy away from presenting their accomplishments for all to see, taking great pride in what they do.
The hero has an upstanding and indomitable attitude. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as sports, technology and entertainment. They will use a brand voice that is brave, confident and motivational.
A couple of real-world examples of the hero include Adidas and Marvel.
Group Four: Social Connection and Belonging
The lover is happiest when they’re desired by others, seeking out feelings of intimacy and closeness wherever possible. They usually focus on the simpler pleasures of life, encouraging the people around them to forget about their worries for now and live in the moment.
The lover encourages people to feel passionate and permissive. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as food & drink, fashion and self-care. They will use a brand voice that is sensual, seductive and indulgent.
A couple of real-world examples of the lover include Chanel and Godiva
The jester similarly lives for the here and now, seeking fun from every engagement and encouraging others to do the same. They will always see the brighter side of life, and can pull humour and hope out of even the darkest of places.
The jester excels in making others as relaxed and friendly as they are. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as food & drink, self-care and entertainment. They will use a brand voice that is playful, positive and youthful.
A couple of real-world examples of the jester include Pepsi and M&M’s.
The everyman values not what makes them unique, but what makes them human. They seek a sense of belonging in a crowd, celebrating the things they have in common with others and making themselves easily approachable.
The everyman perseveres to ensure those around them are supported and understood. This archetype commonly appears in sectors such as food & drink, fashion and general/budget shopping. They will use a brand voice that is authentic, inclusive and relatable.
A couple of real-world examples of the everyman include GAP and IKEA.
Now You Know the Different Brand Archetypes, How Do You Figure Out Which One Is for You?
It can feel quite restrictive to adopt just one of these archetypes to base your brand around, and the right fit might not shout out to you at first glance. If you need some additional guidance on how to choose your brand archetype, here are a few steps you can take to make things a bit easier.
First, look at your brand mission and values. These two things contain the essence of who your brand is and what it stands for, so it makes sense to shape how you present yourself based on these core attributes. A mission statement that aims to brighten the lives of its customers will be more likely to fall into the category of the jester or the innocent, while brand values that warn against complacency and following the status quo will find themselves attracted to the outlaw and the explorer.
Think about the emotions you want your audience to feel, and how they might relate to a famous character that embodies your brand archetype. It won’t do you any good to speak or act similarly to a famous explorer like Indiana Jones if your customers are seeking safety and stability from you and your products/services, no matter how awe-inspiring he may be. Your brand archetype can be based on your brand’s character or its audience, sometimes taking attributes from both, but it’s important to think how your customers will think of you too.
Remember That at the End of the Day, a Brand Archetype Is Just a Template to Help Customers Recognise You at a Glance
The brand archetype you pick does not define your brand. Rather, it acts as a surface-level persona of who you are to get customers through the door. Once that happens, you can go into more detail about who you are, and what sets your business apart from everyone else. Some brands even choose to borrow traits from two different brand archetypes and see brilliant success in doing so. There is no one right way to run a business, so do whatever feels natural.
If you’ve found the right brand archetype for you but are worried that your business is struggling to differentiate itself from others using the same archetype, why not consider using niche marketing to narrow down your focus and specialise in the things most important to you? Check out our blog on how shrinking your target audience can grow your brand here!
Alternatively, if you need help in choosing your brand archetype or positioning your brand in general, you can book a call here for some personally tailored advice!