What are brand archetypes?

Brand archetypes have their basis in psychology, originally relating to human personality, but they are perfect for describing branding too! The archetypes are brief descriptions of a company – its values and core messaging – and form a brand’s personality.

We’ll be discussing the 12 common personality archetypes proposed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, which give an expansive overview of certain company personalities. If any of them stick with you, think about integrating them into your brand personality.

Archetypes and Personality

Let’s delve a bit deeper into what an archetype is: something to really reiterate your brand’s personality. They rely on storytelling (whether it is implied or literal, such as props in images or the brand’s origin story) in order to build a brand narrative.

The main goal of a brand archetype is to create an emotional connection with the brand’s target audience. Although this may seem similar to the brand’s identity, an archetype is the collected personification of your brand values, mission and story.

a meeting in a restaurant

How are brand archetypes useful?

Archetypes are the aspects of personality that subconsciously influence behaviour – including a person’s desires, motivations and personal values. They are useful in providing the audience with a sense of familiarity, through storytelling and emotional attachments.

A business which can class itself under one (or more – if this is the case, choose both a primary and secondary archetype) of these will have a better idea of where to head in terms of its branding. Creating a cohesive company plan using an archetype allows for clarity in upkeeping a brand image.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

There are 12 main brand archetypes that many businesses find themselves conveying through their brand messaging. However, if you don’t feel like you fit just one – that’s absolutely fine! Many businesses are actually mergers of one or more types of archetype. Let’s find out what they are!

the number 12 is pegged onto a washing line

1) The Creator

This type of brand has a vision, and a desire to reach it. These brands are innovators and non-conformists, who push the boundaries of creativity to make exciting and original products. These individualistic companies are miles ahead of their competition – think Apple or Lego!

2) The Innocent

These brands aim to provide happiness, whilst at the same time upkeep their simplistic and honest virtues. Their marketing efforts are focused on optimism and tend to focus on problem-solving. Innocent (like the name suggests!) or Dove are good examples – and they use their light colour schemes to easily convey their archetype!

3) The Sage

Brands that fall under this archetype are knowledge-seekers, who value truth over all else. They promote an atmosphere of constant learning and tend to be thought leaders in their sphere. Brands like Google or the BBC, who have a large amount of influence and expertise, are classed as sages.

4) The Explorer

Brands that champion freedom and independence are explorers. As the name suggests, they are explorative and value personal experience. They are pioneers who enter uncharted lands, such as NASA or Subaru.

a woman looks quizzically at a map

5) The Outlaw

Outlaws are risk-takers, with a mission to disrupt the status quo. Often, these brands won’t have mainstream appeal – but they have a much more loyal, though smaller, audience. Harley-Davidson and Greenpeace are prime examples of outlaws.

6) The Magician

Excitement is the main goal for brands who align with the magician archetype. They thrive on achieving the unbelievable, and love to present mystique as a daily occurrence. Disney and TUI are magicians – they give customers intrigue, and have idealistic values.

a family on holiday

7) The Hero

Heroic brands want to make a difference for the better. In their fight to overcome injustice, they promote an atmosphere of growth and courage. Adidas and Duracell are examples of heroic brands – their inspirations are futuristic and powered by bettering themselves and others.

8) The Lover

Ah, lovely – brands associated with the lover archetype are passionate and sensual, and they value trusting relationships. Often, their customers value an empathetic and emotional approach. Ann Summers and Alfa Romeo are examples of this.

two swans form a heart shape with their intertwined necks

9) The Jester

Jesters are entertainers at heart. They will create light-hearted, funny advertising campaigns to match their playful sense of humour. Positivity is a large part of their existence, and they foster fun over anything else. M&Ms and Skittles are great examples of this.

10) The Everyman

These brands represent the everyday – they are general and reliable, with a strong sense of community. Tesco and Ford stress their down-to-earth nature with their products being marketed towards the general public.

a ford focus

11) The Caregiver

Caregivers are compassionate, driven by their desire to help other people. There are maternal associations with caregiver brands, and many of them dedicate themselves to teaching, charity or nursing. Examples of caregivers are Johnson & Johnson and (obviously) the NHS.

12) The Ruler

Last, but most certainly not least comes the ruler. These brands seek power and control – they aim to be the total authority within their sphere. They are stable, weathering the market no matter what, and hugely rule-driven, like Microsoft and Rolex.

a silhouette of a king on a horse

Archetypes for all!

There you go! These categories are non-exhaustive, but they’re great for building cohesive branding. If you identify any aspects of these in your business, great! Think about how to capitalise on them in order to more effectively communicate your business’ values.

If you’re still wondering about how to construct your brand personality, check out our other blog on the psychology of colour – everything adds up when it comes to your business’ portrayal!