Branding Psychology

The 12 Brand Archetypes

So what is an archetype anyway?  Archetypes are a concept originally conceived by the psychologist, Carl Jung.  He used the word “Archetype” to refer to the recurring patterns found in our universal stories. He identified the themes, symbols, and imagery as part of the human psyche.

In marketing, a brand archetype is used to anchor it against something already embedded within the collective conscious and subconscious of humanity. By aligning your brand with a brand archetype, it makes it easier to connect with the hearts and minds of your audience and to build a brand that has a higher meaning to your customer.

There are 12 different archetypes.  By knowing which one your brand is, it can help you in making better choices related to your brand identity, content, and strategy.   Check the different archetypes out below to see how your brand stacks up.

Brand Archetype #1:

The Sage

Goal: to find the truth, help the world gain insight

Traits: Knowledgeable, trusted source of information, wisdom and intelligence, thoughtful, analytical, mentor, guru, advisor

Marketing niche: Help people to better understand the world, provide practical information and analysis

Branding insights:   For this archetype, the message is the hero and focus, and the branding is kept clean and minimal to allow the content to be king.

Archetype examples: CNN, Google, Phillips  PBS

Brand Archetype #2:

The Innocent

Goal: to be happy

Traits: Strives to be good, is pure, young, optimistic, simple, moral, romantic, loyal

Marketing niche: Companies with strong values, seen as trustworthy, reliable and honest, associated with morality, good virtues, simplicity, can be nostalgic

Branding insights:   Many food brands and skincare brands leverage this archetype to connect their audience to the all-natural organic ingredients. The key with this is to focus on a natural palette and look and feel that is young, fresh and simple. 

Archetype examples: Dove soap, Honest Company, Whole Foods

Brand Archetype #3:

The Explorer

Goal: to discover who you, experience a more authentic, more fulfilling life through experiences

Traits: Restless, adventurous, ambitious, individualistic, independent, pioneering, being true to one’s soul, autonomy

Marketing niche: Exciting, risk-taking, authentic

Branding insights:  Brand’s that bring this archetype to life well tend to focus their messaging and imagery on experiences vs. the product itself.  This allows the audience to really imagine themselves on the adventure of their lives having the ultimate experience.

Archetype examples: Red Bull, Jeep

Brand Archetype #4:

The Ruler

Goal: control, to create order, build a successful community

Traits: Leader, responsible, organized, role model, administrator

Marketing niche: Help people become more organized, restore order, create more stability and security in a chaotic world

Branding Insights:  This is an aspirational brand archetype.  The focus tends to be on success and position the brand as a leader and authority in their category. 

Archetype examples: IBM, Microsoft, Mercedes Benz 

Brand Archetype #5:

The Creator

Goal: to create something with meaning and value

Traits: Creative, imaginative, artistic, inventive, entrepreneur, non-conformist

Marketing niche: Visionary, help customers express or create, and foster their imagination

Branding Insights: Archetype examples: Lego, Sony, Crayola

Brand Archetype #6:

The Caregiver

Goal: to help others and care for others 

Traits: Caring, compassion, generosity, maternal, nurturing, selfless, generous, compassionate

Marketing niche: Help people care for themselves, serve the public through health care, education or aid programs

Branding Insights: The focus of branding for this archetype should bring the values of wholesome goodness and nurturing to life.  

Archetype examples: Campbell’s Soup, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz

Brand Archetype #7:

The Magician

Goal: to make dreams come true, create something truly special

Traits: finding win-win solutions, making the complex appear simple, visionary, charismatic, imaginative, idealistic, spiritual

Marketing niche: Help people transform their world, inspire change, expand consciousness

Branding Insights: Content and imagery that inspire bring this archetype to life, whether it be Apple’s “Think Different.” or Oil of Olay’s “Ageless” – they are brands that are visionary.

Archetype examples: Disney, Oil of Olay, Apple

Brand Archetype #8:

The Hero

Goal: prove one’s worth through courageous acts 

Traits: Courageous, bold, honorable, strong, confident, inspirational

Marketing niche: Make a positive mark on the world, solve major problems or enable/inspire others to do so

Branding Insights: This archetype uses inspirational imagery and content to inspire with a focus on being strong and courageous.  Nike’s “Just Do It.” campaign is the quintessential example of this archetype being brought to life through branding.  

Archetype examples: Nike, BMW, Duracell 

Brand Archetype #9:

The Outlaw

Goal: to overturn what isn’t working, break the rules, fight authority 

Traits: Rebellious, iconoclastic, wild, paving the way for change

Marketing niche: Agent of change, advocate for the disenfranchised, allow people to vent or break with conventions

Brand insight: The key to branding with this archetype is to leverage colors, language and design elements that will bring out the rebellious nature. 

Example: Harley-Davidson, Virgin Atlantic

Brand Archetype #10:

The Lover

Goal: Intimacy and love

Traits: passion, gratitude, appreciation, and commitment, sensual, intimate, warm, idealistic

Marketing niche: Help people feel appreciated, belong, connect, enjoy intimacy, build relationships

Branding insight:  Branding with this archetype is all about focusing on beauty and sensuality.  Brand’s that are lifestyle, fashion, and beauty related often fall into this category.  

Example: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolate

Brand Archetype #11:

The Jester

Goal: to bring joy to the world

Talent: Fun, sense of humor, light-hearted, mischievous, irreverent, joy

Marketing niche: Help people have a good time or enjoy what they are doing, allow people to be more impulsive and spontaneous

Branding insight:   They key for branding with this archetype is to focus on funny content that makes people laugh.  Dollar Shave club’s famous viral videos are a great example of leveraging this archetype to create content that was light-hearted, funny and sharable. 

Archetype examples: Muppets, Dollar Shave Club

Brand Archetype #12:

The Regular Guy/Girl

Goal: to belong/connect with others 

Traits: Down to earth, supportive, faithful, folksy, person next door, connects with others

Drawback: Could lack a distinctive identity and blend in too much

Marketing niche: Common touch, solid virtues, gives a sense of belonging

Branding insight:  The key with branding for this archetype is to use branding elements and content that is relatable, and friendly, with an approachable look and feel.  

Archetype examples: Home Depot, Wendy’s, eBay

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