A guide to using the 12 key brand archetypes to create a compelling narrative and deepen audience connection.
As a brand, your narrative is the thread that weaves its way through the hearts and minds of your target audience. This thread cultivates loyalty and connection, but what if you struggle to define your identity?
Brand archetypes are tried-and-true characters that are powerful tools for creating compelling narratives. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the different types of archetypes, what they mean, and why they matter, and provide helpful archetype examples that may help you grow your business.
What are brand archetypes? 🧰
A concept brought to life by Carl Jung, archetypes are collective, archaic symbols and images that reside within our unconscious. They embody shared characteristics that different cultures have used to define common human behaviors and motivations throughout history.
In marketing, Jung’s archetypes shape and strengthen a company’s identity. An archetype represents your brand as a persona that helps mold your company’s personality to resonate with your target audience and spin your narrative in a captivating way. Adopting a suitable brand archetype helps businesses stand out in a crowded market and foster a unique bond with their customers.
There are 12 brand archetypes that are primarily used, and they’re based on essential human values and desires, including safety and belonging. Utilizing brand archetypes (including in your style guides) is an excellent strategy for rebranding your business or expanding in a niche market.
Why are brand archetypes effective? 👪
Brand archetypes are influential because they tap into real human experiences and emotions. They transcend cultural and demographic boundaries and, from a psychological perspective, are proposed by Jung to be ingrained in the human collective unconscious.
In strategic branding, these personality archetypes act as conduits for companies to connect with audiences on a deeper level. Rather than just selling a product or service, companies can harness these personas to construct engaging, outside-the-box narratives that align with their consumers’ needs and pain points. Archetypes help establish a memorable brand identity, cultivate trust, and foster loyalty.
Understanding the 12 brand archetypes 🏹
In the diverse world of marketing, 12 timeless characters have emerged. These archetypes offer a compelling framework for shaping brand identities, but genuinely understanding them requires a look at their unique desires, traits, and voices, as well as real-life examples.
The Creator 🎨
Driven by a desire to innovate and give form to visions, this archetype is associated with imagination and expressiveness. The Creator’s brand voice is inspirational and provocative, encouraging creativity and turning ideas into reality. Well-known Creator brands include Lego, Apple, and Adobe, which are lauded for their commitment to these tenets. You’ll typically see the Creator archetype in technology, arts and crafts, design, and advertising.
The Sage 🌿
Characterized by a thirst for understanding, the Sage brand archetype is associated with wisdom and intelligence. Brands embodying this persona typically provide insights and expertise, encouraging consumers to make informed decisions. Real-life examples include the University of Oxford, BBC, and Google. This archetype is familiar in education, media, and technology.
The Caregiver 💫
The compassionate Caregiver brand archetype is driven by a need to serve others. Traits include selflessness, empathy, and nurturing, and these brands often voice values of caring and protection, such as Toms, WWF, and UNICEF. You’ll find this persona in healthcare and non-profit industries.
The Innocent 🌙
The Innocent archetype craves simplicity and safety, and its traits include optimism and honesty. Innocent brands often communicate a message of simplicity and nostalgia, such as Aveeno and Dove. Common industries for the Innocent archetype include beverages, beauty, skincare, and entertainment.
The Jester 🃏
Ruled by pleasure, the Jester brand archetype wants to live in the moment and enjoy life. It embodies humor, optimism, and playfulness, with excellent brand examples including Old Spice, Dollar Shave Club, and M&M’s. This brand archetype is popular in the food and beverage, entertainment, and advertising industries.
The Magician 🪄
The Magician archetype has a mystical and reassuring voice. Driven by a desire to create memorable moments, this persona is innovative, visionary, and spiritual. Brands like Disney, Apple, and Tesla embody this archetype commonly found in the technology, entertainment, and automotive industries.
The Ruler 📏
This commanding and articulate brand archetype aims to create order from chaos and is often associated with power and leadership. Ruler brands like Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton, and Rolex project authority and achievement. Industries that frequently use this persona include luxury goods, technology, and automotive.
The Hero 💪
Where there’s a will, there’s a way — especially if the Hero brand archetype has something to do with it. This persona is characterized by mastery and is honest and brave. Hero brands like Nike, Adidas, and FedEx communicate empowerment. This archetype is popular in sports apparel, technology, and consumer goods industries.
The Everyman 👨
The Everyman brand archetype thrives on belonging. This persona seeks connection and expresses traits like realism, empathy, and humility. Brands like IKEA, Target, and Lynx embody this brand voice, which is friendly and humble. This persona is typical in retail, home improvement, and e-commerce industries.
The Outlaw 🤠
The Outlaw brand archetype desires revolution. These personas are characterized by disruption and rebellion, with popular companies including Harley-Davidson, Virgin, and Diesel. This persona challenges the norms and is often found in the fashion, entertainment, and automotive industries.
The Explorer 🌎
Compelled by freedom, the Explorer brand archetype chases discovery. It is defined by traits like independence, ambition, and bravery, and popular Explorer brands include Jeep, Patagonia, and The North Face. This persona encourages exploration and is often used in the travel and outdoor apparel industries.
The Lover 💖
This brand archetype is all about intimacy and passion. Its voice is sensual and empathetic, and its traits include romanticism and commitment. Lover brands like Victoria’s Secret and Chanel exude elegance and allure. You’ll find the Lover persona in the beauty, fashion, and gourmet food industries.
How to determine your brand archetype 🤩
Determining your brand archetype is a reflective process. It requires deep knowledge of your brand personality, how your brand’s perceived, and your target persona. It also involves identifying how you want your audience to feel about your company and aligning those ideas with the traits of the most fitting brand archetype.
Independent marketers can gather this information for their clients in various ways, including consumer surveys, focus groups, social listening, and data analytics. These techniques offer valuable insights to dissect before embarking on a new branding strategy.
It’s worth noting that while a brand can be associated with more than one brand archetype, our experts caution against it. Associating with multiple archetypes can dilute your brand message and make your identity unclear to your audience.
Hire a branding specialist on Contra ✨
If you want to leverage brand archetypes to boost your business, join Contra. We’ll connect you with an array of skilled remote brand designers, logo designers, and freelance marketers who are ready and waiting to guide you through this transformational journey. For Independents, Contra offers a platform for promoting your branding services commission-free. Sign up today to communicate with clients all over the globe and explore our blog for helpful industry tips and tricks. To hire on Contra, get started here.