The 12 brand archetypes explained

There’s just something about the brands we identify with. We share a strange bond with them that is difficult to describe. We feel as if we know them.
It’s almost as though we love them in some cases.

What is it about these brands that draw us in?
Why do we embrace them into our family and show loyalty to them?

Is it great ad content, fantastic brand identity design, or some kind of magic?

The answer… Brand Archetypes!

We’re all familiar with the idea of a brand archetype. It’s a concept that’s been around since the 1940s when Swiss psychologist Carl Jung identified 12 basic types of personality archetypes.

But what is a brand archetype? And how can it help you better understand your own company’s personality?

A brand archetype is a set of recurring attributes, behaviours, and values that make up a company’s identity. It’s like the psychological profile of an individual: it contains all the things that make them who they are.

It’s easy to think of a brand as just a logo or slogan—but if you look at it closely, there are so many more aspects to every company than just its visual appearance or marketing messages! Every business has its own unique set of values and characteristics that help define what it means to be successful in this day and age. That’s why we believe everyone should take some time to really get acquainted with their own company’s brand archetype!

In this article, we’ll show you how to use them to hack your audience’s minds and build lasting relationships.
Let’s go over each one in detail so you can figure out where your brand falls on the spectrum.

How human emotion created the archetype

We all have fundamental human desires.
We are not taught to desire or require them. We just simply do.
They are primitive and instinctual.

Here are the primary human desires that correspond to each archetype;

  • Liberation – THE OUTLAW
  • Power – THE MAGICIAN
  • Mastery – THE HERO
  • Intimacy – THE LOVER
  • Enjoyment – THE JESTER
  • Belonging – THE EVERYMAN
  • Service – THE CAREGIVER
  • Control – THE RULER
  • Innovation – THE CREATOR
  • Safety – THE INNOCENT
  • Understanding – THE SAGE
  • Freedom – THE EXPLORER
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We can understand why some personalities appeal to us more than others when we realise that particular behaviours or personalities promote specific desires.

Archetypes personify these behaviours and provide a road map that enables you to more accurately appeal to and connect a given desire with a specific personality.

There are two main reasons why you should match your brand with an archetype.

  1. Connection: Nowadays, most brands compete on features, benefits, and pricing.
    If you don’t want your brand to become a commodity, you’ll need to engage with your audience on a deeper level.
  2. Differentiation: When it comes to standing out in a crowd, differentiation tactics appear to be well worn, leaving newcomers little to work with.
    Personalities, on the other hand, have limitless potential.
    They are not only one-of-a-kind, but they can also be incredibly memorable.

The 12 brand archetypes

The Outlaw
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BRAND VOICE: Rebellious, disruptive, liberated
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Rules are meant to be broken.”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Harley-Davidson, Diesel
PERSONALITY: James Dean – Rebel Without a Cause

The Outlaw archetype family: the Activist, the Gambler, the Maverick, and the Reformer.

The Outlaw desires revolution, partially to change the world and sometimes for the anarchy it entails.
They oppose rules, regulations, and conformity that would limit their (or anybody else’s) freedom of choice.
They are decent at heart, but anger is a part of their motivation.

The strategy for Outlaw branding

To appeal to an outlaw, you must first demonstrate to them that you see the world as they do.
The shared opponent is status quo and conformity, and displaying disdain for either will go a long way toward resonating.
Encouraging, facilitating, or empowering revolution, on the other hand, will instantly make you a part of the family (or gang).
Formal communication should be avoided, and your tone and vocabulary should be infused with grit and attitude.

The Outlaw in action

The Magician
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BRAND VOICE: Compelling, charismatic, mystical
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “When all your dreams come true”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Disney, Tesla, Coca-Cola
PERSONALITY: Gandalf – The Lord of The Rings

The Magician archetype family: the Alchemist, the Scientist, the Engineer, and the Innovator.

The Magician seeks to make dreams come true in surprising ways.
They have the capacity to transform people’s lives through the perspective of a magical moment.
They believe that we are only bound by our imaginations and that defying the limitations of reality would lead us to a better future.
Magicians have a need for information, but they do not voluntarily share it; instead, they utilise it to demonstrate their vision. They believe that by reframing difficulties, problems can be transformed into opportunities.

The Strategy for Magician Branding

With their ability to transform, the Magician archetype appeals to a variety of buyer personas.
Brands who offer a product or service that takes their clients on a transformational journey (Lost to Found, Insecurity to Security, Worn out to Refreshed) may want to consider the Magician Archetype as a personality to connect with their target audience.

The Magician in action

The Hero
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BRAND VOICE: Courage, strength, mastery
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Just do it”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Nike, Addidas, FedEx
PERSONALITY: Russel Crowe – Gladiator

The Hero archetype family: the Warrior, the Athlete, the Rescuer, and the Liberator.

This archetype is the brave one. The hero knows that courage and strength are the keys to overcoming any challenge, no matter how difficult it may seem. The hero will always put others first before themselves—a quality they share with their counterpart in mythology: Hercules.

This archetype is best represented by a brand with a bold leadership voice that is unafraid to stand up for what they believe in even when it seems like everyone else thinks you’re wrong. These brands speak truthfully and openly about their values, which are often aligned with those of the customer base (think Nike). They also communicate with conviction, knowing that there’s no one better than them at doing what they do.

The Strategy for Hero Branding

To appeal to a hero, you should inspire and motivate them to succeed and achieve.
They consider themselves respectable citizens and the bully’s nemesis, and they will fight for what is right.

Heroes want to live up to their potential, and businesses that recognise that potential and promote the challenge will connect with them. A Hero is motivated by the possibility of success and the gratification that comes with it.

The Hero in action

The Lover
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BRAND VOICE: Intimacy, passionate, magnetic
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “I only have eyes for you”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Alfa Romeo, Chanel, L’Oréal
PERSONALITY: Marilyn Monroe – Some Like It Hot

The Lover archetype family: the Romantic, the Companion, the Hedonist, and the Matchmaker.

The Lover archetype is all about seduction but in a very literal sense. If you’re going to use this archetype, your brand voice has to be magnetic, sensual and passionate. It’s the type of brand that would say “I only have eyes for you,” because it knows how to play up its sensuality—and it’s not ashamed about it.

The Lover is typically associated with luxury goods like Chanel or Alfa Romeo; both brands have used the Lover archetype to great effect in their marketing campaigns over the years. The lifestyle they’ve created surrounding these products has helped them become icons in their industries (Chanel No 5 perfume anyone?)

The Strategy for Lover Branding

To entice a Lover, you must first make them feel attractive or awaken their burning desire for connection and closeness.
Because of their attraction to sensory pleasure, sensual language and tone should be used in your communication and message.
The Lover archetype places a high value on imagery and tone of voice.

Brands that appeal to Lover personalities can capitalise on their target audience’s yearning for sensual pleasure via sight, music, smell, or touch.

The Lover in action

The Jester
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BRAND VOICE: Fun-loving, playful, comedic
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Let your hair down and start living”
BRAND EXAMPLES: m&m’s, Old Spice
PERSONALITY: Jim Carey – Ace Ventura

The Jester archetype family: the Entertainer, the Clown, the Provocateur, and the Shapeshifter.

Jesters are fun, witty and playful. They have a distinct brand voice that is full of personality. You can imagine them as the class clowns in school who were always good for a laugh. Jesters are masters at staying lighthearted and optimistic while still being able to make others laugh with their jokes—or just occasionally playfully insult them!

A jester is all about having fun, so it’s no surprise that they would be associated with brands such as m&m’s, which use playful colours and brand personalities to create an entertaining experience when eating chocolate candies. The other classic example of this archetype is Old Spice’s online campaign featuring Terry Crews as its spokesperson—a man whose facial and body expressions could easily be confused with those of a madman.

The Strategy for Jester Branding

Jesters, like Magicians, are rarely buyer personas, but they might be an ideal archetype for brands that are in the business of entertaining or want to be associated with good times.

Everyone enjoys a good laugh, regardless of archetype or personality, and the Jester personality may be a memorable and beloved point of differentiation if the circumstances and time are appropriate.

As the Jester Archetype, your brand should emphasise the lighter side of life with a fun and engaging personality.
Brands that can connect with their audience through happiness and humour can become much-loved.

The Jester in action

The Everyman
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BRAND VOICE: Friendly, down-to-earth, genuine
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Creating a better every day for everyone”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Ikea, eBay, Levi’s
PERSONALITY: Will Smith – The Pursuit of Happiness

The Everyman archetype family: the Citizen, the Advocate, the Servant, and the Networker.

The Everyman is the most inclusive archetype, as it’s a brand that speaks to everyone on a personal level. It’s not necessarily catering to any one type of consumer; it just wants to be something that everyone can relate to.

The Everyman’s motto is “Creating a better everyday life for people.” This may sound like a lot of companies’ mottos (or maybe even yours), but these words are actually pretty specific. In essence, creating better everyday lives means creating happiness in our customers’ lives; this could mean making their homes warmer with more efficient heating systems or soothing them after stressful days at work.

The Strategy for Everyman Branding

To appeal to an Everyman, you must create a sense of belonging within them.
Brands centred on ordinary activities may employ this archetype to convey the message that it’s okay to be normal.

Home or family life companies are ideal for this archetype.
To appeal to an Everyman, you must be honest, humble, nice, and down-to-earth in your communication.

The Everyman in action

The Caregiver
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BRAND VOICE: Caring, warm, reassuring
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “How can we help?”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Nivea, UNICEF, Johnson’s
PERSONALITY: Robin Williams – Patch Adams

The Caregiver archetype family: the Guardian, the Samaritan, the Healer, and the Angel.

The caregiver archetype is a voice that’s warm, caring, and compassionate. The brand communicates from a place of “how can we help?”. It’s not about itself but rather the bigger picture.

The Caregiver archetype is motivated by a desire to protect and care for others and has a selfless character.‍ You’ll find this archetype in organizations like Unicef or WWF—organizations that are focused on helping others.

The Strategy for Caregiver Branding

The Caregiver is a selfless archetype who is motivated by a desire to protect and care for others.
They are often maternal figures who take those in need of care under their wing until they are strong enough to care for themselves.

The nursing profession personifies this attitude well, and while they like having their efforts recognised, they dislike being patronised.
Caregivers are not just reactive, but also preventative, and they are often there before and after potential harm.

The Caregiver in action

The Ruler
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BRAND VOICE: Commanding, powerful, articulate
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Power isn’t everything, It’s the only thing”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Boss
PERSONALITY: Marlon Brando – The Godfather

The Ruler archetype family: the Sovereign, the Judge, the Ambassador, and the Patriarch

This archetype is represented by brands that have a strong, powerful presence. They are known for their command, confidence and authority.
If a brand has this archetype associated with it, you can expect to see a confident voice in the marketing materials that communicate strength and power. Also, expect to see examples of their products or services being used by leaders of their industry.

Their goal is for prosperity and success, and for that prosperity to trickle down to those who follow them.
They are self-assured, responsible, and in command of their life, and they want others to be the same.
Rulers perceive themselves as the top of the food chain and work hard to maintain that position.

The Strategy for Ruler Branding

To appeal to a Ruler, you must re-establish their sense of authority, control, and respect.
Rulers desire a sense of supremacy. They are often members of an exclusive V.I.P. club.
Ruler brands must reassure their clients that they are at the top of the success ladder and are members of an elite club.

The Ruler in action

The Creator
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BRAND VOICE: Daring, provocative, Imaginative
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Think different”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Lego, Adobe, Pixar
PERSONALITY: Emmett Brown (Doc) – Back To The Future

The Creator archetype family: the Visionary, the Storyteller, the Artist, and the Entrepreneur.

Creative and daring, the Creator archetype is the one who can imagine anything. They communicate a message of vision, possibility, transformation and empowerment.

Creators are represented by brands like LEGO or Adobe whose advertising has been groundbreaking in their field for decades. The creator archetype has become synonymous with brands that transcend physical products; any company or person who offers a service where imagination is paramount can fall into this category—for example, architects or other design-oriented professionals would fit here well!

The Strategy for Creator Branding

You must appreciate the creative process while fostering self-expression in order to appeal to a creator.
Brands that provide people with the ability to express themselves artistically would be well-positioned with the Creator Archetype.
Their communication should spark their clients’ interest in the creative process and inspire them to express themselves to the best of their abilities.
Creator companies capitalise on their audiences’ creativity and passion to create and develop.

The Creator in action

The Innocent
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BRAND VOICE: Optimistic, honest, pure
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Life is simple and simplicity is elegant”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Dove, Aveeno, Qantas
PERSONALITY: Tom Hanks – Forest Gump

The Innocent archetype family: the Child, the Dreamer, the Idealist, and the Muse.

The innocent is a happy person with a positive attitude toward life.
They seek safety, but ultimately, they want to be happy for themselves and everyone else.

They are truthful and pure, and they harbour no ill will towards anyone. They don’t carry grudges and believe that everyone has the inherent right to be themselves. They find beauty in everyone and have an uncanny ability to perceive inner beauty.

The Innocent is a brand archetype that uses a voice that is optimistic, honest, and wholesome. It communicates in the form of a story about how to live life with simplicity. Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign has been an example of this archetype for years, but it has evolved into something more than just one campaign—it’s become a way of thinking.

The Strategy for Innocent Branding

To appeal to an innocent, you must first earn their trust through straightforward, honest, and, most importantly, positive communication.
Negative or guilt-based communication is completely off-putting.
They must identify your business with security, and they will sense a connection when their inner beauty is acknowledged.

The Innocent in action

The Sage
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BRAND VOICE: Experienced, wisdom, guiding
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “Ideas are worth spreading”
BRAND EXAMPLES: National Geographic, Google, TED
PERSONALITY: Yoda – Star Wars

The Sage archetype family: the Mentor, the Detective, the Shaman, and the Translator.

Sage is the brand archetype best suited for companies with a lot of experience, knowledge and expertise. It’s a sophisticated, intelligent and wise voice that uses hyperbole to make its points.

The Sage seeks truth, knowledge, and wisdom.
Their motivation stems from a desire to not only comprehend the universe but also to share that comprehension with others.
They are lifelong learners who appreciate sharing their expertise through philosophical discussions.
They are more inclined to pass on their wisdom to someone who can utilise it to change the world than to change it themselves.
Its tone is slightly serious but still very approachable—like a mentor who wants to teach you something new.

The Strategy for Sage Branding

To communicate with a sage, you must pay respect to their intelligence.
Higher-level words with layered or philosophical meaning will be recognised and appreciated, however, messages that are too simplified or dumbed down will not.
They demand factual and well-researched information that is watertight in order to avoid challenges.

The Sage in action

The Explorer
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BRAND VOICE: Ambitious, Fearless, Independent
BRAND COMMUNICATION: “You only get one life, make it count.”
BRAND EXAMPLES: Red Bull, Jeep, Land Rover
PERSONALITY: Harrison Ford – Indiana Jones

The Explorer archetype family: the Adventurer, the Pioneer, the Generalist, and the Seeker.

Explorers are always ready to take on new challenges, so if you have a product or service that can help them find hidden treasures or brave uncharted territories, this is likely an archetype that would resonate with your audience. Brands like Jeep and GoPro (who encourage people to get outside) exemplify this archetype well.

The explorer has a strong drive to push themselves beyond the comfort and conformity of everyday life and into the rugged environment in which they feel at home.
They are daring, adventurous, and enjoy a good challenge.
The tasks are more about understanding oneself than proving oneself to others, and they are on an endless voyage of discovery.

The Strategy for Explorer Branding

With the explorer archetype, you’re looking for a bold and adventurous brand voice that encourages your customers to go out and explore the world. This kind of voice will inspire consumers to take chances and try new things.

To entice an explorer, you must first challenge them.
Challenging the constraints of modern life will also allow you to instantly connect with them.
You should portray the outdoors and the unknown as the land of the free and dare people to explore it, all while promoting your brand.
A stand against conformity can go a long way towards resonating with and invoking the explorer’s wants.

The Explorer in action

Conclusion

Brand archetypes are not new, but they are underutilised, particularly in small businesses.

With so much noise, only companies that connect on a human level can inspire connection.
There is no better way to connect on a human level than through a human personality, and there is no better way to develop a human personality than through the use of an archetypal framework designed to speak to human needs.

Determine how you want your audience to feel, map the archetype that will best appeal to them, and establish a genuine personality to give your brand conviction.

Make sure you understand who your brand is, what it stands for, and where it is headed.
People want to follow brands that know where they’re heading.