Part of brand building involves defining your brand’s personality. Just sounds like a human. And where to start? By understanding the 12 Brand Archetypes.
The truth is, every brand must at some point determine what identity best resonates with them and most importantly, stick with it – because this reveals their brand personality.
Having a brand personality helps create emotional connections with clients – that sense of trust and reliability, which helps draw them to you.
Why not help them make the decision to subconsciously choose your brand by having a consistent and dependable personality?
What are brand archetypes?
Carl Jung theorized that humans like to understand concepts by symbolism. This valuable information has been harnessed by marketing and branding experts.
An archetype is a genre or subsection each brand belongs to, which determines its story or motivation.
Every brand should strive to identify with one of them. If you’re already bursting to know them, we’re here to help you. Here are the 12 recognized brand archetypes:
This archetype is primarily focused on unraveling issues and tackling complex problems. As such, they often come across as being perfectionists. They care less about the feelings of their audience, so far as their problem-solving goals are attained.
They are a seeker of truth and often do these with the most noble of motivations – to share their knowledge for the improvement of the world.
A good example of the sage archetype would be National Geographic.
The magician archetype feeds on our love for fantasies. At its core, it fosters unreal, special or exciting moments – making us want to reach out for more.
The archetype usually assumes a position of intelligence and elusive knowledge and utilizes same in creating something from nothing. There is an element of mystery and awe, when it makes dreams come true, and it can be seen figuratively taking a bow to the applause.
Disney as a brand fits quite well into the magician archetype.
Hero is one of the most enduring and easily recognizable archetypes available. At the center of this archetype is the desire to overcome obstacles and attain lofty goals in spite of all odds. The hero archetype embodies the saying “where there is a will, there is a way”.
But they don’t stop at breaking barriers. Their desire is to announce their courageous acts to the whole world, with the hopes that they inspire multitudes to reach for success.
A notable example of the hero archetype is Nike.
The caregiver archetype demonstrates the desire to keep harm away from those it loves. Its life-mission is to be a soft-landing for others. Its greatest attributes are its empathy, generosity, compassion.
By being so kind and humane, it endears itself to many of its would-be clients, and they often identify with the brand based on trust.
Take the Pampers brand for example, and notice how its endeared itself to millions of mothers worldwide.
This archetype has a tireless desire to self-actualize. The brands that have this archetype constantly strive to test the boundaries, to investigate, to see what’s on the other side of the mountains.
They’re strongly individualistic and enjoy the freedom of exploration. This archetype is unsatisfied with the status quo and calls others into the same experience.
Jeep is a classic example of the explorer archetype.
If you have a unique brand that’s the first of its kind, you should probably consider identifying with the revolutionary archetype.
This archetype has strongly non-conformist ethos and this rings through every of its actions. It’s often described as ‘rogue’, ‘outlaw’ or ‘rebel’. But at its core, the archetype isn’t negative.
Think of the first astronaut to land on the moon, as he smugly planted his flag on the surface, and you might understand what enthuses the revolutionary archetype. Who does this well? Harley Davidson.
Also known as the dreamer or the idealist, this brand archetype is as superficial as they come. They enjoy being beautiful and ravishing, like scented flowers in a field. They live for pleasure and have no time for deep philosophical or intellectual discussions.
They’re bold, obsessive and committed, and thrive in environments where they’re loved. Lover brands are glamorous and seductive, and this is what attracts the majority of their clients.
A brand which typifies this archetype well is Victoria’s Secret.
This archetype is all about power, luxury and confidence. Their life-goal is to be a role model. Call them king, boss, president and you won’t be wrong. They thrive on respect and speak authoritatively – they want to dominate and oversee.
But the archetype does beyond wanting absolute control, it also longs to be perceived to be a just in the execution of those duties.
Does any such brand come to mind? Think Cartier.
The Regular Guy
Brands of this archetype aim for a sense of all-inclusiveness. The regular guy archetype’s life goal is to make people feel comfortable – to fit in.
To achieve this, such brands must take an unassuming and harmless posture as they invitingly dangle their products and services to customers. If your brand speaks humility, dependability or honesty, it just might fit best within this archetype.
IKEA as a brand depicts this archetype so well.
“Life’s not hard” is the jester archetype’s motto. Everything about this brand spells ‘lighthearted’ and ‘fun’. The jester lives in the moment and aims to make you smile.
If they can get a chuckle out of you with their affectionate teasing, even better. It achieves its aims by skillfully utilizing a blend of humor, silliness and sarcasm.
A good jester brand will be Skittles.
An ever-optimistic brand with simple tastes, this brand only wants to be happy, and to make you happy. It only sees the good things in people and in life. Its pure at heart and this is revealed in the way it conducts its business with openness and integrity.
Hence, if you have a moderately priced product, are confident of its quality, and desire to be as open and transparent about it all, then the innocent archetype might be the best for you.
Dove brand is a good example of this.
The creator is an incredibly driven and passionate archetype that ever seeks to bring its lofty visions into reality.
Described in some quarters as perfectionist, the creator would stop at nothing to produce a masterpiece. Cost, time and materials needed is not a priority to the creator, so far as the envisioned end product is available for use.
Adobe as a brand is a classic example of a creator archetype.
How to pick the right archetype that’s for your brand?
Now that we’ve seen the 12 primary archetypes, you might be wondering “oh nice list, but which do I choose?”.
I would personally recommend you to start with an archetype quiz (we are working on one now! Stay tuned). To reduce biases, you could ask a number of colleagues to take it. If the answers differ a lot, try to look for commonalities and similarities.
Studying your competitor is also crucial in helping you determine your brand archetype.
Ask yourself – who are your competitors? What could possibly be their archetypes? Is your market or niche full of Sage or Hero archetypes? If so, is it possible to differentiate yourself and become a Creator instead?
Just to summarize…
Outstanding brands define their unique personality traits and create an emotional connection with their target customers. Start with getting their attention, then gaining trust, soliciting purchase, and finally nurturing a strong sense of loyalty and brand evangelism.
Defining your brand’s archetype could be the the first and important step in getting there. Don’t wait. Action now!