What are brand archetypes

Have you heard of the term brand archetypes before? Whether you’re familiar with the term or not, you will have encountered them throughout your day to day life. They are the characters that we know and love in movies, tv shows and stories. Each of the archetypal characters have certain personality traits, that we can recognise and relate to, and it’s because of this, that they are used within the branding process.

They help us to build out a personality for the brand and help to create a more human connection with our audience, which is such an important step in the brand strategy process.

The archetypes were first created by psychologist, Carl Jung in the early 20th century, who discovered that there were a group of traits that model certain personas, and that they are universally recognised.

Though the names have changed slightly since Jung first spoke of them, these archetypes and their traits have become key in storytelling and brand development .

When we build a brand it is not about designing a logo, that is just a very small piece in puzzle. A brand is built on many different aspects; vision, values, positioning, storytelling and brand personality. Having a defined personality helps us to stay aligned to the bigger picture.

A brand that has a clearly defined personality, helps to evoke the right feelings and reinforce the overall message of the brand. In each of the examples below I've included a video or advert created by one of the featured brands to showcase them using their archetypes to full effect, often creating a really powerful emotional connection.

A quick overview of the 12 brand archetypes

The Innocent

The Sage

The Explorer

The Outlaw

The Magician

The Hero

The Lover

The Jester

The Everyman

The Caregiver

The Ruler

The Artist

The Innocent AKA Cheerleader / Purist / Idealist

  • Core Desire: Safety / Simplify life
  • Message: Simplicity is the beauty of life
  • Brand voice: Optimistic, honest, humble
  • Strategy in business: Be positive, encouraging,
  • Innocent brands: Dove / Aveeno / WholeFoods

The Innocent brand in advertising - Dove

The Sage AKA Teacher / Mentor / Guide

  • Core Desire: Knowledge / Wisdom
  • Message: Wonder is the beginning of wisdom
  • Brand voice: Knowledgeable, factual, Assured
  • Strategy in business: Share insights, guide audience,
  • Sage brands : Google, BBC, Forbes

The Sage brand in advertising - Google

The Explorer AKA Adventurer / Seeker / Pioneer

  • Core Desire: Freedom / Live life to the full
  • Message: Life is for living
  • Brand voice: Daring, encouraging, fearless
  • Strategy in business : Experience new things, escape boredom
  • Explorer brands : Red Bull / Jeep / Northface

The Explorer brand in advertising - Red Bull

The Outlaw AKA Rebel / Maverick / Misfit

  • Core Desire: Revolution / Liberation
  • Message: Rules are made to be broken
  • Brand voice: Disruptive, Rebellious, Unapologetic, Revolutionary, Raw, Honest
  • Strategy in business: To disrupt, be outspoken, have controversial conversations,
  • Outlaw brands : Harley Davidson / Diesel / Dr Martens

The Outlaw brand in advertising - Diesel

The Magician AKA Alchemist / Visionary / Intuitive

  • Core Desire: Power / Transformation
  • Message: Believe in it and it can happen
  • Brand voice: Inspiring, reassuring, mystical, imaginative
  • Strategy in business: Bring a vision to life, lead a transformational journey
  • Magician brands : Disney / Dyson / Tesla

The Magician brand in advertising - Disney

The Hero AKA Warrior / Champion / Victor

  • Core Desire: Mastery / Defeat the challenge
  • Message: Push yourself, because no one else will do it for you
  • Brand voice: Motivated, determined, confident, honest
  • Strategy in business: Take action, overcome challenges, be determined
  • Hero brands : Nike / FEDX / Adidas

The Hero brand in advertising - Nike

The Lover AKA Romantic / Hedonist / Matchmaker

  • Core Desire: Intimacy / Indulgence
  • Message: You deserve your desires
  • Brand voice: passionate, warm, sensual, affectionate
  • Strategy in business: Appeal to desires, create a sensual experience
  • Lover brands : Chanel / Victoria's Secret / Alfa Romeo

The Lover brand in advertising - Alfa Romeo

The Jester AKA Entertainer / Performer / Comedian

  • Core Desire: Pleasure / Play
  • Message: Life is a party
  • Brand voice: entertaining, humorous, playful, optimistic
  • Strategy in business: have fun, don’t be serious, promote good times,
  • Jester brands : Dollar Shave Club / Old Spice / m&m’s

The Jester brand in advertising - Dollar Shave Club

The Everyman AKA Girl or Guy next door / Friend / Realist

  • Core Desire: Belonging / Connection
  • Message: You’re one of us
  • Brand voice: Friendly, humble, honest, practical, authentic
  • Strategy in business: relatable, down to earth, be part of community
  • Everyman brands : IKEA / Gap / Target

The Everyman brand in advertising - GAP

The Caregiver AKA Nurturer / Mother / Supporter

  • Core Desire: Service / To look after others
  • Message: We can take care of each other
  • Brand voice: Considerate, thoughtful, kind, generous
  • Strategy in business: focus your attention on other people or causes,
  • Caregiver brands : TOMS / UNICEF / WWF

The Caregiver brand in advertising - TOMS

The Ruler AKA Royalty / Executive / Sovereign

  • Core Desire: Control / Excellence
  • Message: A true leader, doesn’t create followers, but more leaders
  • Brand voice: Articulate, refined, commanding, charismatic
  • Strategy in business: Exclusivity, show leadership,
  • Ruler brands : Mercedes-Benz / Rolex / BOSS

The Ruler brand in advertising - BOSS

The Artist AKA Creator / Visionary / Storyteller

  • Core Desire: Innovation / Inspire
  • Message: Creative thinking leads innovation
  • Brand voice: Inspiring, daring, unique, authentic, provocative
  • Strategy in business: Hone creative skill, encourage originality, inspire creativity
  • Creator brands : Apple / Lego / Adobe

The Artist brand in advertising - Adobe

As you can see from these examples, their archetypes really come through quite clearly, and help to reinforce their overall message.

Where do you feel your brand might sit?

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