Have you ever come across a brand that you instantly connect with? A brand that just gets you!
Ever wonder why some brands are instant hits and others are big fat fails for *you*?
It all comes down to brand archetypes.
In this article, we get into what brand archetypes are and how you can hack the brain of your ideal customer so they immediately connect and fall in love with you!
What are Brand Archetypes?
Brand Archetypes are the subconscious set of expectations that can be applied to a brand. They tell us how we can expect a brand to behave.
It’s like a personality profile that gives people a sense of what to expect when they interact with your brand.
There are a total of 12 different archetypes. You can have as many as 6 different archetypes, but I would recommend just having one primary archetype and maybe a secondary (supporting) archetype.
It will be easier to dial in your message if you focus on one or two archetypes. Because it comes down to telling your story. And that story gives you the freedom to be authentic, genuine, and honest.
I’m going to walk you through the 12 archetypes and why each one is so important to your messaging.
What are the 12 brand archetypes?
1. The Hero
A brand archetype that cares deeply about the customer and will do anything to save them.
These brands are all about the consumer. Their products are built to fix a problem.
The hero archetype is the most common and the easiest to understand.
This archetype has a mission that is bigger than the product. It is also the most accessible.
The hero archetype is about saving lives or making lives better.
It does a lot of good and is a trusted brand.
This is the one that comes to mind when you think of brands like Nike, Amazon, and Red Bull.
2. The Outlaw
A brand archetype that avoids the rules and works against the system.
This archetype is about being an individual and having a unique voice.
It is a rebel to the core.
This archetype is about fighting the man and sticking it to the establishment.
This archetype is about making a statement and not being afraid to go against the grain.
You may associate this archetype with brands like Jack Daniels, Harley Davidson, or the Marlboro man.
3. The Lover
A brand archetype that is passionate about what they do.
This brand archetype is about the art of love and bringing joy to its audience.
It is about the finer things in life and making life more wondrous.
The lover is about luxury and is about being pampered and cared for.
They are all about creating relationships and evoking emotions. They foster intimacy and happiness with their customers.
Examples of brands that fall into this archetype are Apple, Nike, or Tiffany and Co.
4. The Magician
A brand archetype that is mysterious and seeks to excite the customer.
This brand archetype is all about being a showman. They are all about performance and playing with the imagination.
The magician wants to make your dreams come true. They are your handymen and women, your seers and soothsayers, your potions masters and healers.
They use their magic to turn anything into gold. They see opportunities where others don’t and they can make impossible things possible.
They are different and unique and stand out from the crowd.
Examples of the Magician archetype are Tesla, Virgin, or Nikel.
5. The Sage
This archetype seeks to educate and empower the customer.
They are all about “teaching”. They value knowledge and wisdom.
They take the customer on a journey from the unknown to fully embracing their knowledge while being supportive and empowering them. They are helpers and they want to change the world.
The Sage is all about “experience”. They are not interested in promoting their own brand but they want to educate their customer and share their knowledge.
Examples of the Sage archetype are Wikipedia, TED, and Google.
6. The Jester
The jester archetype is all about living in the now, this moment, and making the best of it.
They have a very unique sense of humor and they are extremely creative. They are not interested in the past or the future, they live in the moment.
For them, the journey is the destination. The Jester archetype is the fun-loving character that brings laughter. They are entertainers who are playful and bring joy. They are the ones who make you laugh and smile even when it doesn’t seem possible.
They are clever, impulsive, and unrestrained.
You may see the jester in brands like Doritos, Skittles, Cadbury, and M&Ms.
7. The Caregiver
Like the mother archetype, the caregiver archetype is about taking care of others.
This is all about being responsible for others, being selfless, and caring for others.
The caregiver archetype is all about the needs of others. They are exceptional listeners and they are very supportive and nurturing.
Caregivers put others first and are always thinking about ways to make life better and easier for their customers.
The caregiver can be found in brands like Dove, Tide, and Dr. Pepper.
8. The Ruler
The ruler archetype is all about being in control and being the boss. This is the leader who is very decisive and firm, they are the principal, the boss, the head-honcho-in-charge. They take names and kicking ass.
They are leaders in their field. They are the ones on top of the mountain.
The ruler archetype can be found in brands like Captain America, Gillette, and Mastercard.
9. The Creator
The creator archetype is all about making things. They are inventors, artisans, makers, and designers.
They are visionaries with authentic and non-conformist views. They see everything as an art and are original and innovative.
Creators are driven by a need to create and transform nothing into something that is loved and cherished. They want to make a difference.
Examples of the creator archetypes include Lego, Apple, and LuluLemon.
10. The Regular Guy/Gal
The Regular Guy/Gal is the Everyman or Everywoman that is a staple of the American story. They are the friends we grow up with, the colleagues that we work with, and the family members that we share our holidays with.
They are easy to talk to and someone that everyone likes. They can easily adapt to any situation and fit in. They know the rules of the game and they know how to play them. They care about doing the right thing and are good people. They are the safe choice.
They are the gold standard for what is normal, but they also lack anything bold or out there. That can be comforting and necessary in certain situations where you want people in charge that are dependable. People that you want on your side and that you can trust.
Examples include Scooby-Doo, The Doctor from Doctor Who, Gap, and Levis.
11. The Explorer
The explorer is a character that is looking for adventure. They want to try new things and experience new things. They want to experience what life has to offer. They are the first to try a new restaurant, the first to go to a new movie, they want to experience everything and everything.
They are not confined by social norms or expectations. They live for the now and don’t worry about the consequences. They do as they please and live life on their own terms.
It’s all about freedom and exploration. They have no time to be sitting around at their desk waiting on life…they make it happen.
You’ll find the explorer in brands like JEEP, REI, and National Geographic
12. The Innocent
The innocent has a positive personality. They like to see the good in everything. They tend to be trusting and believing of others.
They are also great at helping others. They have a hard time seeing negative intentions in others.
They are not as worried about what others think of them and they see the best in everyone and everything.
They tend to be honest, pure, and don’t hold grudges or want to be involved in conflict.
You’ll find the innocent in brands like Dove, TOMS, JCPenny, and Disney.
How to determine your brand archetype?
There are four factors that determine your brand archetype. Developing these will lead you toward identifying the brand archetype that fits your business.
Step 1: Determine your brand’s purpose & promise. Who do you serve and why? How do you do what you do?
Step 2: Determine your brand’s personality. What do you stand for, or against?
Step 3: Determine your brand’s look. What sets you apart from others?
Step 4: Determine your brand’s tone of voice. What is the voice you use to communicate with your audience?
Your brand archetype should be determined by the answers to these questions.
Don’t worry if it isn’t immediately clear, you’ll be able to identify it more easily with time.
Once you’ve identified your brand archetype, then you can move on to developing your brand.
How to use brand archetypes?
The brand archetype that your business identifies with should be used for everything you create going forward.
Your logo should match your brand archetype. Your business card should match your brand archetype. Your Facebook page should match your brand archetype. Your website should match your brand archetype. Your newsletter should match your brand archetype. Your store should match your brand archetype.
It is through the brand archetype lense that every piece of collateral, every word you write, every message you put out, should be filtered.
This is how you ensure that the brand you are creating is consistent and authentic.
Are you using brand archetypes in your business?
When it comes to branding and your message, using archetypes to define your voice and what you stand for can help set you apart from competitors.
It also gives your customers a way to connect with you.
Brand archetypes are not a new concept but they are underutilized by many businesses.
The next time you are trying to figure out why you aren’t connecting with your audience, look at your brand in the context of the archetypes and see where you fit.
It’s a quick and easy way to know if you have an effective brand that resonates with your ideal customer and creates an impact with them.
It might seem overwhelming at first but I promise it becomes way less intimidating once you start looking at your brand as an archetype.
This article is just a brief overview of the power of brand archetypes and how you can use them to create a powerful brand.
The best brands are those that know who they are, where they are going, and inspire people to follow along with them.
(she/her) I’m a brand strategist, award-winning designer, business consultant, and artist. You can usually find me being followed (herded) by a pack of dogs with paint on my face. I dream of living on a huge farm with a bunch of goats, chickens, and dogs. And my husband too.