Brand Archetypes – Ultimate Guide with Examples

Brand Archetypes – Ultimate Guide with Examples

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This article has been contributed by Louis Martin.

Are you so fond of a particular company that it’s hard for you to buy from other brands? You just ‘connect’ with the company more than others. Every time you catch sight of their logo, a wave of emotion runs inside you, reminding you how much you enjoy their products or services.

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What is it that drives you towards those brands? Why do you feel so strongly about them compared to other brands that remain hazy and swathed in vagueness?

Well, it sure isn’t logical. Guess what, 95% of us make decisions about brands subconsciously, not rationally. So essentially, your affinity for some specific companies stems from your perception of their brand. On a deeper level, it is contingent upon the ‘archetype’ or the personality your brand depicts.

For a company wanting to create a distinctive identity, it is essential to elevate the visibility of its products and its marketing message. Brand archetypes are paramount to positioning your company and its products in a unique and remarkable way. Using this tool, you can humanize your brand and make it stand out.

The most powerful organizations in the world didn’t reach the pinnacle overnight – or with luck. They cleverly used effective, fool-proof strategies to craft an interesting brand personality with which their target audience could resonate, connecting with their emotions at a fundamental level.

A Brief History of Brand Archetypes

Epic journeys, heroic tales and love stories; we are all bound by these narratives. These stories are derived from the concept of archetyping, which dates back thousands of years to the Philosopher Plato and his ideas around ‘elemental forms’.

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As a matter of fact, we get swept away in stories that we can resonate with – the stories that tap into our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Archetypes are universal stories, ideas, values, journeys or characters which exist across the globe as a part of our “collective consciousness.”  Whether it is the story of a lover’s amorous pursuit, a hero’s epic expedition or a caregiver’s tender healing, archetypes are the stories we instinctively understand.

The Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung believed that humans tend to use symbolism to understand their world. He introduced the concept that our unconscious actions and thoughts are heavily influenced by age-old stories. This is why some characters are so instantly recognizable to us, proving the theory that they are a part of our shared collective unconscious.

After Jung, the eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell began to explore how archetypes explain mankind’s hunt for meaning in the world through art, pop culture, mythology, literature, and beyond.

This is exactly how the idea of archetyping was brought into the modern world. Unsurprisingly, we have become accustomed to such archetypes being represented as film or book characters. Fairy Godmother, for instance, is an epitome of a motherly figure and caregiver while Ethan Hunt is a classic hero.

The Power of Brand Archetypes: Tap into Universal Story and Emotion

On a superficial level, a business looks very plain –  an organization with which consumers have a transactional relationship. You give money and get goods or services in return. However, with some brands, things transcend this basic relationship.

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Whether you are reluctant to use products other than Apple’s or you simply cannot buy tissues from anyone, but Kleenex, your feeling towards basic brands are interconnected to human psychology.

Archetypes instill humanity into your mission, vision and values. They paint a picture of the universal expression of behavior and communication and enable you to set apart your brand from the competition. In a nutshell, brand archetypes allow you to zero in on to your brand’s most authentic truth and bring your brand to life in unimaginable ways while also magnetically attracting prospective customers. And due to this, we can leverage the instinctive appeal of archetypes and innate coding to craft stronger and more persuasive branding and marketing campaigns. Imagine how successful brands could become if they understand the audience’s expectations, needs and pain points, evoke unconscious thoughts or emotions and drive positive actions in customers.

Powerful Marketing and Advertising Tool

Brand Archetypes Wheel Infographic

To thrive in today’s marketing landscape, it is not enough for brands to merely communicate what their services or products provide. Brands must develop an emotional connection with their consumers to encourage brand loyalty. Therefore, brands who don’t forge such a bond certainly get lost in the sea of competition.

Around 70% of emotionally connected consumers spend twice as much on brands they are emotionally attached to than those who are not. Notably, 81% of people are also likely to promote their favorite brands to friends and family. This is how emotional connections to brands strengthen over time and are even passed down to generations.

Let me ask you a question: when you think of a magician, what comes to your mind? Someone who can snap his fingers to do the impossible, create something exceptional and make dreams come true? Now, what if you associate a company or its product with those characteristics?

Characteristics such as imagination, innovation, passion, inventiveness and charisma cannot only help brands build a strong emotional connection but also win loyalty and devotion. Take Apple as an example of a company with those qualities. Apple is the magician that has always managed to strike a chord with its consumers. After Apple’s co-founder passed away, the heartfelt tributes paid to him represented his allure as well as of his extraordinary brand. Imagine how powerful and authentic a brand must be when customers can resonate with it so profoundly.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

Believe it or not, major brands are leveraging the zeitgeist of brand archetypes to better communicate with their customers. Let’s explore the 12 brand archetypes in detail.

Images shared with permission, from the Ultimate Guide to Brand Archetypes. Check out their Brand Strategy course, Brand Master Secrets.

  • The Innocent (aka The Dreamer)

The Innocent Archetypes (aka The Dreamer)

Brands with an ‘Innocent’ archetype are honest, optimistic and pure, driven by the quest for happiness. Here’s what makes Innocent brands so special: They love simplicity, are not interested in publicity stunts and believe in letting customers explore their business for themselves. Companies with this archetype are likely to repulse guilt-inducing advertising.

The fizzy drink manufacturer, Coca-Cola, is an excellent example, which is all about feel-good vibes and happiness. Other innocent brands include Nintendo Wii, Innocent Smoothies, Ivory and Volkswagen.

  • The Hero (aka The Warrior or The Superhero)

Brand Archetypes Hero

The Hero is the redeemer and society’s savior. Characterized by self-sacrifice, courage and triumph, Heroes bravely endeavor to help everyone achieve their goals and bring a positive change in the world. Brands falling into the “Hero” archetype shout out their accomplishments from the rooftop and persistently work to improve and prove themselves.

A wonderful example of a Hero brand archetype is Nike. Nike just doesn’t sell sportswear; it inspires and empowers its customers by the products they buy. An everyday person steps into the shoes of their athletic idols and stays resilient in the face of adversity.

  • The Ruler (aka the King or the Leader)

The Ruler - Brand Archetypes

Motivated by the desire for power and control, Ruler brands are naturally dominating. Ruler archetypes pride their selves on being the chief among the tribe, representing the highest of standards. A Ruler brand aspires to rule a specific niche and suggests to its rulers that they can be a ruler too.

A textbook example of the ruler archetype is Mercedes-Benz that promises “the best or nothing.” The brand is synonymous with high quality, class and luxury – everything the brand’s customers desire. Other examples include Rolls-Royce, British Airways, Microsoft and American Express.

  • The Magician (aka the Visionary)

The Magician - Brand Archetypes

With their mastery in thinking deeply and outside the box, Magician brands promise miracles and know how to make dreams come true. Intel is a fascinating example of the Magician archetype since it claims “Intel makes possible the most amazing experiences of the future”. Intel paints an emotionally engaging picture of what it does with its focus on the transformation of technology into extraordinary experiences. Other examples include Apple, Oculus, Genentech, and Google.

  • The Outlaw (aka The Revolutionary or The Rebel)

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The Outlaw - Brand Archetypes

The Outlaw is the harbinger of social change. They appreciate unconventionality and challenge the status quo. By promoting alternative lifestyles, they create cult-like followings and shake up the industry.

Harley-Davidson is an impressive example of the Outlaw archetype. As an edgy brand that delivers to its customers a unique product, the brand allows customers to fully express themselves.

Other examples include: MTV, Virgin and Levi Strauss & Co.

  • The Explorer (aka the Seeker or the Wanderer)

The Explorer - Brand Archetypes

The Explorer archetype is an embodiment of innovation and ambition, always pushing boundaries to discover new frontiers. They are constantly on the lookout for self-discovery.

A perfect example of the Explorer archetype is an American clothing company Patagonia. The brand produces clothing for different activities, including surfing, snowboarding and climbing, and encourages its customers to explore the natural world with their products.

Other Explorer brand archetype examples include The North Face, Lonely Planet and Starbucks.

  • The Sage (aka the Scholar or the Teacher)

The Sage - Brand Archetypes

Sage brands possess a burning desire to uncover and comprehend the truth. This archetype celebrates curiosity and consistently shares knowledge with others.

A great example of a Sage brand has to be Google, which is on a mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Whether you check vocabulary through Google Translate or find directions using Google Maps, the internet giant is invariably the most reliable source of information.

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Other important examples include National Geographic, Rosetta Stone and the BBC.

  • The Creator (aka the Artist)

The Creator - Brand Archetypes

The Creator brand archetypes makes its own trends. Brimming with excitement, the Creators are passionate about self-expression and imagination.

LEGO is an outstanding example of the Creator archetype. The company’s mission is “to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”, endorsing its commitment to cultivating and stimulating children’s creativity and imagination. Another remarkable example of the Creator is Invictus Studio, a web design company in Dallas, that believes in leveraging the creative genius to satisfy customers.

  • The Jester (aka the Comedian)

The Jester - Brand Archetypes

Even a serious business can have the element of fun and the Jester brand archetype understands this the best. Fun and energetic, Jester brands expose the truth with a joke.

A perfect embodiment of the Jester archetype is BuzzFeed. With BuzzFeed, listicles, memes, GIFs, online quizzes and “LOLs” and “OMGs” have become extremely popular. It is a cheerful brand that focuses on entertainment and shareability.

Examples include Skittles, Ben & Jerry’s and CompareTheMarket.com.

  • The Caregiver (aka the Nurturer or the Saint)

The Caregiver - Brand Archetypes

The Caregiver brand archetypes are characterized by their selfless love and generosity. Generous and compassionate, companies falling into the category celebrate gentleness, comfort and support. They strive to meet the needs of the people and make sure everyone feels safe and appreciated.

An accurate example of the Caregiver is Nivea – a beauty brand that prides itself on using the same basic product formula. The brand is highly associated with the values of gentleness, warmth, closeness and care.

Some other examples of the Caregiver archetype are Actimel and Johnson & Johnson.

  • The Lover (aka the Idealist or the Dreamer)

The Lover - Brand Archetypes

Sensuous and emotive, Lover has a passionate and intimate personality. Lover archetypes position themselves as luxurious and glamorous and are driven by an appreciation for beauty.

A textbook example of a ‘Lover’ brand is Gucci. Gucci’s character has evolved over the years but is still provocative and extravagant.

Other examples of the Lover brands include Victoria’s Secret, Versace and Godiva.

  • The Everyman (aka the Good Guy or the Regular Guy)

The Everyman - Brand Archetypes

The Everyman brand archetype expresses traits of simplicity and unpretentiousness. Companies falling into this category tend to connect with people on a deeper level and don’t expect to be outlandish or outstanding.

IKEA is perhaps the most perfect example of the Everyman archetype. The brand celebrates the beauty of everyday life and demonstrates that it can be experienced by anyone.

Once you have identified a brand archetype that appeals to your brand, you can unlock the power of your brand archetype and give life to your brand’s personality.

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