Brand archetypes

What are brand archetypes?

In 1919, the psychoanalyst Carl Jung created 12 personality archetypes. Put simply, they are universal characters or personalities found in all cultures, all over the world, that provide instant meaning to people. Big brands like Nike, Apple and Virgin all use archetypes. The reason they use them to communicate with customers, is because these archetypes are immediately understood. You’ll find that they maintain the archetype all the way through their branding, including imagery, colour palettes, and the type of language they use.

Defining your archetype

When you’re going through and figuring out which one your brand is, you’ll want to see what resonates the most. But there are three things you need to think about in order to properly utilise a brand archetype:

Foundation archetype

The first choice is your foundation archetype. This is who everyone else thinks you are. If, for example, you build websites, a creator archetype might be very applicable to you as that’s what everyone else sees you doing.

Core archetype

Your core archetype is how you want to portray yourself. So going back to the previous example. If you create websites, the chances are that pretty much everyone else in your industry is also going to think of themselves a creator. You run the risk of blending in to everyone else. What you want to do is figure out how you want to be perceived in order to distinguish yourself from everyone else. You might want to become an explorer, who explores all the different options to solve the problem for your customer. This can really set you apart from the rest of your competition.

Influencer archetype

The third is the influencer archetype. When you’re doing a lot of your marketing, if you do the same thing over and over and over again, people are going to get bored. This is where an influencer archetype comes in. You might want something to add a bit of spice. For example, if your core personality is explorer, you might want to have an influencer as a hero. In you come, and you can save the day! Just be careful not to over-use an influencer as you could confuse your customers. At most it should be 30% of your marketing.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

Choosing the correct archetype for your brand is one of the biggest influences to how your customers view your business. Below is a brief overview of the 12 most commonly used brand archetypes, including what they stand for, which customers are most likely to resonate with them and which big brands are using them.

The Caregiver Archetype

The Caregiver

Helping you get through your difficulty.

The Caregiver is the ultimate nurturer. They are full of kindness and generosity, and are often associated with the service industry. For caregivers, meaning in life is derived from giving to others.

Brand Promise: We’ll hold your hand all the way.

Core Desire: To make others feel better.

Target Segment: People who like to be taken care of. People who are sensitive or shy, and need to be encouraged. Customers looking for someone they can trust with their health or possessions.

Brand Voice: Accessible generosity and a caring attitude.

Brand Examples: Kleenex, Vicks, Johnson & Johnson.

The Creator Archetype

The Creator

Expand your knowledge through experimentation and creative force.

They’re the Ursula LeGuin and Bob Dylan of the archetypes. They’re the ones who are going to create enduring work, or imagine a new world into being.

Brand Promise: Start with imagination, and finish with success.

Core Desire: To examine different avenues in order to make a product/experience that is truly special.

Target Segment: People who will embrace a new idea or a new approach. Consumers who want their senses to be wowed. Those who are looking for more than just getting the job done.

Brand Voice: The synthesis of beauty and function leading to new directions

Brand Examples: Lego, Apple, Kindle.

The explorer archetype

The Explorer

The journey is not about getting from A to B, it’s about who you become on the way.

They’re adventurous, independent and exciting. These are the people who pick up their backpack and live the life you dream about. 

Brand Promise: Forge your own path.

Core Desire: The freedom of discovery.

Target Segment: Brands that offer people an opportunity to understand themselves. Brands that challenge the consumer, that demand that the consumer learns new skills or deals with new situations.

Brand Voice: Minimal rules and a lot of autonomy.

Brand Examples: Amazon, Columbia, Tesla and Jeep.

The hero archetype

The Hero

Protecting the innocent through valour and strength.

They’re brave and principled. These are the people you look up to; who you want to be. They often feel they have a quest, or a cause they must support. Think Luke Skywalker and Wonder Woman.

Brand Promise: We’ll fight for what’s right.

Core Desire: To prove your worth through successful hard work and determination.

Target Segment: Those who feel vulnerable and in need of protection. Customers looking for an ethical brand they can feel safe with. People who want a big voice fuelled by competence. 

Brand Voice: Fighting for justice.

Brand Examples: Nike, Adidas, FedEx.

The innocent archetype

The Innocent

Be yourself, and it will lead to a happy life.

They’re optimistic. They’re pure. They’re that smiling person who never understands dirty jokes. It translates to very simple, nice brands that want everyone to be happy.

Brand Promise: Be true to yourself, and we’ll be true to you.

Core Desire: To see positive results from good behaviour.

Target Segment: Those who want to downsize, or cut out the white noise. Customers who are open to self-improvement in a positive atmosphere. Consumers looking for no-fuss services they can trust.

Brand Voice: Be the best you can be, and we’ll make sure your life follows suite.

Brand Examples: Dove, Clearasil, Australian Red Cross, Woolworths.

The jester archetype

The Jester

If you’re not having a good time, what’s the point?

This is really for the class clowns. It’s the beer ad that makes you laugh every time. It’s a marketing campaign you don’t even realise is a campaign. This is a difficult archetype, as it can be tricky to find the balance between being light-hearted, and being a business that’s taken seriously. 

Brand Promise: We’ll give you a good time. 

Core Desire: To live freely, and get away with it.

Target Segment: Customers who want to have a good time and a memorable interaction. Those who are fed-up with stuffy institutions and political correctness. Customers who value experience as much as the product.  

Brand Voice: Unite through comedy

Brand Examples: M&M, Compare the Market insurance, iinet, ‘will it blend’ campaign for Blendtec. 

The lover archetype

The Lover

Be my one and only.

They’re emotional. They’re indulgent. These are sexy brands that really draw you in. These are the perfect lovers of the world. Think red and gold, curves and velvet chaise lounges.

Brand Promise: I’m dedicated to you and your desires. 

Core Desire: Giving love, and living sensuously.

Target Segment: Clients looking for that luxury feel of a special occasion. Clients who want to be courted, and to feel appreciated. Customers who like the feeling they’re getting the best version on offer, whether that’s a car or chocolate ice-cream. 

Brand Voice: Every day is an anniversary of us.

Brand Examples: Magnum ice-cream, Dolce & Gabanna, Ferrero Rocher.

The magician archetype

The Magician

Miracles can happen.

They are charismatic, spiritual and see the world in a different way. They make changes to people’s lives without revealing the hard work behind the scenes. It’s the world of Amelie, where anything is possible. 

Brand Promise: This will be unlike anything you’ve done before.

Core Desire: To discover deep truths, and apply these to creating new things.

Target Segment: The magician appeals to clients who want to escape or experience transformation. As a magical being, they appeal to a curious client.

Brand Voice: We will give you something you couldn’t even have imagined.

Brand Examples:  Walt Disney, Dyson, Intel

The rebel archetype

The Rebel

If you think I’ll toe the line, you’ve got another thing coming.

They see the status quo, and embark on a journey to change it. They go against the grain and generally amass a following. The imagery and language used can be daring, which leads to striking marketing campaigns if done well.

Brand Promise: I’ll never stop pushing boundaries.

Core Desire: To remain liberated and start revolutions.

Target Segment: People who believe that archaic rules should not be slavishly followed when they lead to disadvantage. People who believe that others are being treated unfairly or don’t have equal access to what they need because the rules are unfair. 

Brand Voice: I’ll get what I want, so watch out.

Brand Examples: Harley Davidson, Diesel, Virgin.

The everyman archetype

The Everyman

Reliable, approachable, taking care of business.

They’re reliable. They’re grounded, and they operate on a solid value system. To pull this off you’ve got to genuinely have a product that can appeal to a large target market. It’s typically very simple branding so it can be tricky to stand out. However, if done well, it appeals to the masses.

Brand Promise: We’ve got you covered.

Core Desire: To be a decent person, who improves the lives of others in thoughtful ways.

Target Segment: People who value the basics that make everyday life run smoothly. They do not seek brilliance but want to know that they are well looked after on a day-to-day basis. 

Brand Voice: It’s the small things that make a big difference.

Brand Examples: Kit Kat, Bunnings Warehouse, Coles, The Good Guys.

The ruler archetype

The Ruler

The key to success is a well-enforced, systematic approach.

They take charge authoritatively, and place a high value on organisation and order. They’re confident, they’re powerful and they’re making your trains run on time.

Brand Promise: We will give you what you need better than anyone else.

Core Desire: To create order and control others. 

Target Segment: Customers who find comfort in a systematic approach. Customers who are busy, and just want the cleanest, simplest method of obtaining their required goods or services. Customers who trust a larger corporation or established businesses.

Brand Voice: Listen to us, do as we say, and your life will be better. 

Brand Examples: British Airways, BMW, and Microsoft.  

The sage archetype

The Sage

The truth is the ultimate goal.

They’re the expert and adviser. They’re different to creators, in that they aren’t necessarily showy or extroverted about their work, and they want to educate others. This the kid you didn’t realise was in your class until they were school dux. 

Brand Promise: I won’t tell a lie.

Core Desire: To understand the world better, through intelligence and analysis. 

Target Segment: Those who have questions that need to be answered. Those of a curious nature, who seek out information. Those who don’t need to be wowed by fancy graphics or flashy clothes – content is king. 

Brand Voice: I’ll share with you the information you didn’t know you needed. 

Brand Examples: Google, New York Times, RadioLab, Cochrane Database.

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