What are Brand Archetypes? (and How to Use Them)

Category

Branding

Read Time

20 min

Published

12 February, 2024

Last time you made a purchase, a brand archetype would have had an influence on your decision.

View this archetype as a silent storyteller who is subtly guiding your decision-making process, encouraging you to choose one brand over another.

For example:

Are you bold and daring? Enter The Outlaw brand archetype.

Are you all about having fun and living in the moment? Enter The Jester brand archetype.

As consumers, we often find ourselves drawn to certain brands, but why?

Is it the snazzy slogan or advertising copy? The attraction we feel to a certain brand is not by chance, but by design. Behind each logo or campaign, is a carefully crafted brand archetype that taps into the subconscious mind.

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Who we are as people, and the personality traits we possess have a huge impact on the purchases we make. Brands need to use this to their advantage to make sure their product/ service is marketed to us correctly.

By understanding who their customers are and the personality traits they exude, brands can build an identity that connects with customers on a deeper level. In this blog, we’re exploring the 12 different brand archetypes and how businesses can leverage this knowledge for success.

What Are Brand Archetypes?

Brand archetypes are human characteristics that reflect a brand.

Inspired by Carl Jung’s archetypal psychology, these archetypes serve as universal symbols that tap into human emotions and experiences.

They help create a relatable brand personality, making it easier for consumers to connect with and understand a brand’s values and messaging.

For example, think of brands that make you feel something.

Is it your tin of Heinz baked beans, your rich tea biscuits, or your favourite perfume? The reason you love these brands so much and probably will never settle for an alternative, is because they have aligned themselves to one of the brand archetypes.

They’ve tapped into your feelings and emotions so that you connect with this brand on an emotional level. You almost feel a bond with them; a bond that transcends the usual transactional relationship and becomes something deeper.

Maybe you always buy a certain brand of perfume because it makes you feel more feminine, attractive, and appealing?

This would align with The Lover Brand Archetype, and companies in this space will craft its messaging, packaging, and image to resonate with your yearning for connection and beauty.

Examples of common brand archetypes include the Hero, the Explorer, the Lover (mentioned above), and the Jester, each representing distinct traits and motivations that resonate with specific target audiences.

There are 12 brand archetypes which we’re exploring further in the post.

Human Emotion and Brand Archetypes

Every human has desires, whether that’s to be outspoken, rebellious, nurturing, or adventurous.

These desires are deeply rooted, and we weren’t taught to want them – we just do.

They’re instinctive and innate, and they influence why consumers connect better with certain brands.

When a brand aligns itself with a specific archetype, it taps into emotions associated with that particular archetype. For instance, someone with a desire for rebellion might find their expression through the Ruler or Outlaw brand archetypes.

Below, we’re outlining different human desires and the brand archetype that matches with each:

  1. Liberation > The Outlaw
  2. Power > The Magician
  3. Mastery > The Hero
  4. Intimacy > The Lover
  5. Enjoyment > The Jester
  6. Belonging > The Everyman
  7. Service > The Caregiver
  8. Control > The Ruler
  9. Innovation > The Creator
  10. Safety > The Innocent
  11. Understanding > The Sage
  12. Freedom > The Explorer

As we’re all different, each of our desires will be different. Whilst I might strive for freedom (The Explorer), you might strive for mastery (The Hero).

It is the job of brands to work out which brand archetype aligns with their ideal audience, so that they can build a brand identity around those traits.

Why Are Brand Archetypes Important?

If brands understand what behaviours or feelings their target audience is looking for, they can use archetypes to shape their brand so that it speaks directly to these people.

Aligning your brand to an archetype is important for two main reasons:

  1. Connecting on a deeper level: Customers have SO many brands to choose from when they come to buy anything. To make sure your product/ service is more than just a commodity, you need to leverage brand archetypes so that customers relate to your brand on an emotional level.
  2. Standing out in the market: There’s lots of companies offering your customers the same thing as you. By aligning your brand to a specific archetype however, you can better understand your customers personality and create unique and memorable campaigns that stick in their mind.

When you think about the desires linked to brand archetypes (listed above), you will probably recognise them in people around you.

For instance, is there someone at work who is always loud and outspoken?

Have you got a curious friend who looks into every little detail and always wants to know more?

Whatever the case, you will see these personalities time and time again and as a human, it helps you either connect with these people or avoid them.

As a brand this is highly important, as you need to position your brand correctly to make sure people connect to it (not avoid it). Of course not everyone is going to connect to your brand, but as long as your target audience does, that’s your priority.

Going back to people, not everyone you meet is going to be someone who you want to spend time with. Some personalities simply won’t gel with yours, and that’s ok.

The same concept applies to brands, so it’s about identifying who you want to connect with and then crafting your brand to match.

multicolour wheel showing different brand archetypes

The 12 Brand Archetypes

There are 12 brand archetypes for you to consider, which we’re exploring below.

For each brand archetype, we’re listing its:

  • Desire
  • Branding style
  • Traits
  • Fears
  • Examples of this brand archetype
  • How to apply this strategy

With this knowledge, you can hopefully pinpoint which archetype your audience is most suited to.

If you’re stuck at step 1 and you’re struggling to define your target audience, then download our free customer persona worksheet.

This helps you explore each and every aspect of your target audience so you know exactly who you want to buy your product or service.

Once you’ve completed this, you’re ready to look at the brand archetypes listed below.

man on motorbike beside text saying the outlaw

The Outlaw Brand Archetype

Going back to your colleague who is outspoken and always ready to challenge the norm, this depicts The Outlaw Brand Archetype.

These individuals do not follow the status quo as they make their own rules.

They’re prepared to use more disruptive and destructive ways of achieving their goals and they hate conformity.

Whilst they are good at their core, anger is a big motivation and this can often become the most dominant emotion.

Desire: Revolution
Branding style: Bold, disruptive, shocking to go against the norm
Traits: Change, disruptive, liberator, confrontational
Fears: Uniformity, conformity, rules, rigidity
Examples of this brand archetype: MTV, Red Bull, Urban Outfitters, Diesel

How to apply the Outlaw Brand Archetype strategy:

To engage customers with the Outlaw brand archetype, you need to show that your brand also shares the perspective of the Outlaw (i.e rejecting authority, conformity, and anything mainstream).

This means actively challenging societal norms and disrupting everyday habits in your branding and marketing campaigns.

When communicating with this audience, don’t use formal language but instead, opt for a carefree approach and show some attitude. This should be reflected in all visual elements such as the company logo, slogan, and packaging.

pink brain with the words the creator next to it

The Creator Brand Archetype

The Creator Brand Archetype embodies originality, innovation, vision, and a passion for self-expression.

Individuals in this archetype are innovators and they want to push the possibilities of creativity and design, whilst encouraging others to do the same.

They believe if you can imagine it, it can be made possible. However, they are usually restricted by their own desire for absolute perfection.

Desire: Innovation
Branding style: Being original, using imagination, doing something unique
Traits: Vision, originality, expression, creativity
Fears: Repetition, stagnation, familiarity
Examples of this brand archetype: Apple, Lego, Google, Tesla, Nintendo

How to apply the Creator Brand Archetype strategy:

To align your brand with the Creator Brand Archetype you must demonstrate how your brand is powered by innovation, originality, and a passion for self-expression.

This starts internally as you need to build a culture of creativity within your business by focussing on your employees. This involves encouraging brainstorming sessions and embracing wacky and wonderful ideas.

You must then craft a brand story that highlights the journey of creation and authenticity of your products or services to show customers why you’re different.

You should also engage your audience through interactive campaigns to create a sense of collaboration and co-creation. Furthermore, showing behind-the-scenes glimpses of your creative works helps reinforce the idea of constant innovation and originality.

Disney castle next to words the magician

The Magician Brand Archetype

The Magician Brand Archetype wants to surprise and delight their audience by making their dreams come true.

Turning people’s dreams into reality is really at the core of this brand archetype, by making the impossible possible.

Ultimately they are a visionary, and are regarded as deep thinkers and trusted advisors.

Desire: Power
Branding style: Wonder and mysticism, making dreams come true
Traits: Discovery, charisma, imaginative, idealistic, transformation
Fears: Boring, doubt, ignorance, repetition
Examples of this brand archetype: Walt Disney, MAC Cosmetics, Dyson, Starbucks, Apple

How to apply the Magician Brand Archetype strategy:

To apply the Magician Brand Archetype strategy you need to invite customers into a world of wonder and excitement.

This means creating a brand narrative that shows your ability to make the impossible possible, and to transcend any limitations.

Start by developing marketing campaigns that focus on the transformative impact of your offering, highlighting the magical journey customers take on when engaging with your brand.

Use eye-catching visuals, mystical language, and symbolism to create a sense of awe and mystery to spark your audience’s imagination.

person at race starting line with the words the hero next to it

The Hero Brand Archetype

The Hero Brand Archetype is characterised by courage and self-sacrifice. People who fall into this archetype are those individuals you would want on your team if you were ever to go into battle!

They make it their personal mission to triumph over adversity, and their motivation lies in being able to prove their worth through courage and a commitment to the cause.

They meet challenges head-on and they hold themselves to a very high regard, ensuring that they keep going until they succeed.

Desire: Mastery
Branding style: Being stronger, making the world a better place
Traits: Honesty, bravery, candidness, development
Fears: Cowardice, deterioration, incompetence
Examples of this brand archetype: Nike, Under Armour, GoPro, Duracell

How to apply the Hero Brand Archetype strategy:

The key strength of a Hero brand archetype lies in its ability to craft inspirational messaging and compelling content that resonates with customers’ aspirations, motivating them to take action.

Using accomplished individuals as the face of the brand usually works well as it establishes a relatable connection and reinforces the brand’s commitment to success.

This is represented by renowned sports brands including the likes of Nike and Adidas, which feature high-achieving athletes such as LeBron James and David Beckham in their advertising campaigns.

two people holding hands with the words the lover next to it

The Lover Brand Archetype

The lover has a desire to be desired. They crave intimacy and have a strong liking for joyful experiences that are both sensual and nurturing.

Their main motivation lies in becoming more physically and emotionally appealing to attract the attention of others.

To accompany this, their main fears are being ignored, unwanted, and unloved, and they’re constantly fearful of loss. Even when they have achieved their goals, they’re still fearful and crave more desires as a result.

Desire: Intimacy
Branding style: The declaration of beauty and worth, a luxury/ VIP experience
Traits: Affection, love, closeness, intimacy, indulgence
Fears: Rejection, loneliness, invisibility
Examples of this brand archetype: Tiffany and co, Chanel, Victoria Secret, Calvin Klein, Hallmark

How to apply the Lover Brand Archetype strategy:

As a brand, you need to conjure feelings of attractiveness, passion, and intimacy for your audience.

Communication and messaging should use sensual language and tone, creating an experience that appeals to the Lover’s affinity for pleasure through sight, sound, smell, or touch.

The colour red, known for its association with passion, can be an effective choice when trying to resonate with this brand archetype, so it’s wise to weave this through different advertising campaigns.

To be successful, brands should also focus on creating messages that not only fosters a sense of love from others but also encourages self-love. By emphasising the importance of love in different relationships, brands can resonate more deeply with this type of audience.

The Jester Brand Archetype

Think of someone in your life who is always up for a good time.

When everyone else is down, maybe because of work or just life’s usual daily stresses, this person always manages to see the good in every situation and is a great pick-me-up.

This is an example of someone who fits the Jester Brand Archetype.

Their glass is always half full, and not only are they up-beat themselves, but they see it as their responsibility to uplift everyone around them too.

They’re quite child-like and they’ll continue this nature long after their friends have grown up and become more serious.

Desire: Fun
Branding style: Humor, entertainment, and living in the moment
Traits: Happiness, laughter, belonging, positivity
Fears: Boredom, negativity, loneliness
Examples of this brand archetype: Nickelodeon, Dollar Shave Club, Old Spice, Skittles, Dennys

How to apply the Jester Brand Archetype strategy:

The Jester brand archetype is perfect for brands in the entertainment industry, or any brand in fact that is wanting to associate themselves with the idea of having a good time.

For example, theme parks or kids activities as they’re creating a sense of happiness and playfulness.

When used correctly and in the right context, this archetype can be a great way for brands to solidify themselves not only in the minds of their customers, but in their hearts too.

Everyone loves to laugh, and when the timing is right this becomes a powerful strategy for building a memorable and loving brand identity.

The Everyman Brand Archetype

This brand archetype is characterised by its relatability and down-to-earth nature, creating a sense of belonging.

Above everything, they want to fit in, belong, and feel accepted. They’re easy to talk to and get along with, and they don’t want to stand out in the crowd by being overly funny or overly loud.

They want to blend into society and be like everyone else. They’re usually positive and they often agree with others to fit into the group.

They’re both easily liked, and easily forgotten.

Desire: Belonging
Branding style: Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment, promoting a sense of belonging
Traits: Equality, inclusion, togetherness, connection
Fears: Isolation, exclusion, hostility
Examples of this brand archetype: IKEA, Levi’s, Toyota, Subway, Kelloggs

How to apply the Everyman Brand Archetype strategy:

Applying the Everyman brand archetype strategy involves creating a sense of belonging among your audience.

Brands based around everyday activities can effectively leverage this archetype by delivering a reassuring message that it’s perfectly acceptable to embrace normalcy without being boring.

Home or family life brands are best suited to this brand archetype as they thrive on honest and down-to-earth communication. Avoiding elitist positioning or “we’re better” messaging is essential, as this audience appreciates inclusive and relatable content.

person in wheelchair next to the words the caregiver

The Caregiver Brand Archetype

These individuals are driven by the desire to protect and care for others.

Essentially they are the ‘mum’ of your friendship group as they usually take people under their wing, especially those that are struggling or having a hard time.

Their personality is characterised as being selfless as they’re always putting the needs of others before their own.

What’s important to note about this brand archetype is that whilst they appreciate their efforts being recognised, they don’t like to be patronised.

Desire: Service
Branding style: Doing things for the greater good, others before self
Traits: Warm, caring, reassuring, gratitude, service
Fears: Neglect, blame, helplessness
Examples of this brand archetype: WWF, Unicef, Pampers, Johnson & Johnson, Tide

How to apply the The Caregiver Brand Archetype strategy:

The Caregiver Brand Archetype is best suited to brands who are dedicated to helping those in need i.e. charities who might be helping vulnerable people.

Throughout your branding campaigns, a warm, considerate, generous, and maternal approach is needed to help create a sense of safety and protection.

Brands within the Caregiver Archetype need to show that they genuinely care about their customers to be successful.

Essentially, it has to be obvious that the customer comes first as this audience will be relying on the brand for help, advice, and support.

man in suite next to the words the ruler

The Ruler Brand Archetype

As the name suggests, the Ruler brand archetype is associated with leadership, authority, and a sense of control, ultimately being the most dominant personality.

People that embody the Ruler archetype often demonstrate a strong and commanding presence, projecting a sense of power, and influence over others.

They also carry a sense of intimidation and view themselves as being at the top of the food chain, ruling over those beneath them.

Desire: Control
Branding style: Showing dominance over others and leadership
Traits: Leadership, control, ambition, status, success
Fears: Failure, poverty, weakness
Examples of this brand archetype: Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Hilton, Chanel, Microsoft

How to apply the The Ruler Brand Archetype strategy:

To successfully apply the Ruler archetype strategy, brands must create an image of leadership and authority which means surpassing the standard of their competitors.

A brand that embodies the Ruler archetype should also be synonymous with excellence, reliability, and a strong and unwavering commitment to quality. Maintaining high standards becomes key as this reinforces the brand’s authority and positions it as a benchmark in the industry for others to follow.

Beyond product or service quality, the Ruler archetype demands a meticulous approach to brand image and communication from visual identity to messaging.

child with mother next to the words the innocent

The Innocent Brand Archetype

Individuals that align with the brand archetype tend to have a positive, optimistic view on life.

Whilst they crave safety, they ultimately want everyone around them to be happy and to share their positive approach.

They let things go easily, and don’t hold grudges, fostering good relationships with those around them. They are honest and pure in nature, and they see good in people even when others fail to.

Desire: Safety
Branding style: Positive, feel-good, the promotion of wholesome values
Traits: Happiness, simplicity, honesty, positivity
Fears: Complexity, deceit, negativity
Examples of this brand archetype: Innocent Smoothies, Dove, Hello Kitty, McDonalds, Ben & Jerry’s

How to apply the The Innocent Brand Archetype strategy:

To attract the Innocent archetype, brands must invest time into building trust through straightforward, positive communication.

Negative or guilt-based messages won’t cut it as the audience will see straight through this and will be disengaged as a result.

Thereforfore, brands must establish an association with safety and acknowledge inner beauty to create a meaningful connection.

By keeping messaging natural and devoid of pretension, and by focusing on simple solutions, brands will be successful with this type of audience. Prioritise honesty and transparency across your brand and make sure you resonate with those that fall under the Innocent archetype.

person reading a book next to the words the sage

The Sage Brand Archetype

The Sage brand archetype is defined as a truth-seeker, dedicated to discovering new things.

Motivated by a desire to understand the world around them, they also want to share this understanding with others to enrich their lives.

As lifelong learners, they engage in deep and meaningful conversations to express their wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Rather than changing the world directly, those with this brand archetype pass on their wisdom to those who can use it for the greater good.

Desire: Freedom
Branding style: The celebration of continued learning and development
Traits: Knowledgeable, assured, wise, expert
Fears: Ignorance, inaccuracy, powerlessness
Examples of this brand archetype: National Geographic, New York Times, Harvard, University of Oxford, BBC

How to apply the The Sage Brand Archetype strategy:

You need to respect the intelligence of your audience through thoughtful communication. This involves crafting messages that use more complex, higher-level vocabulary and avoiding jargon.

Audiences in this type also value factual and well-researched information so you must meet their expectations for accuracy to be successful.

As such, you must ensure that your content is correct and accurate to avoid any challenges to its validity. Additionally, provide opportunities for your audience to delve into intellectual discussions and explore different concepts to quench their thirst for understanding and knowledge.

person walking in forest next to the words the explorer

The Explorer Brand Archetype

As the name suggests, those with this brand archetype love to explore. They feel happiest when they are pushed out of their comfort zone and they welcome the idea of a challenge.

However, they don’t have a big ego and they don’t need to prove themselves to others.

Instead their reason for taking on a new challenge is to better understand themselves by going on a journey of personal growth.

They love the freedom this brings and as they have an innate adventurous spirit.

Desire: Freedom
Branding style: The celebration of continued learning and development
Traits: Liberation, independence, exploration, adventure-seeking, curiosity
Fears: Confinement, predictability, routine, stagnation, missed opportunities
Examples of this brand archetype: Patagonia, The North Face, NASA, Airbnb, Jeep

How to apply the The Explorer Brand Archetype strategy:

As a brand appealing to the explorer, you need to challenge the confirmation – the same way they do.

Your brand messaging should emphasise and celebrate the spirit of adventure, and the excitement that can be found in exploring the outdoors as this is positioned as the land of the free.

Craft a brand narrative that invites consumers to embark on a journey of discovery, framing your products or services as tools for exploration and new experiences.

You should use visuals that build a sense of freedom, appealing to the innate desire for independence. To connect with customers on a deeper level, encourage user-generated content and testimonials that show real-life adventures and unique encounters with your brand.

The North Face do this really well and it shows how the brand personifies the traits of its target audience.

What are Brand Archetypes? (and How to Use Them)

Learning about different brand archetypes allows you to better understand your target audience.

By recognising the emotional and psychological traits that appeal to your ideal customers, you can create more meaningful and relatable messages that you know they will be drawn to.

This goes beyond just selling a product – it builds a genuine relationship based on shared values and aspirations. When a customer feels like a brand embodies their desires, they are more likely to forge a stronger connection and be loyal.

They can see themselves in the brand, which is very powerful. Going back to the example of The Ruler, individuals who strive to be confident and achieve success will resonate with the likes of Rolex and Mercedes as they depict this image.

After reading this post, hopefully you can identify which of the archetypes your customers resonate with, so you can create targeted and compelling marketing messages.

At Canny, we help brands connect with their customers through their branding and website. To find out more about how we can help, get in touch with our team.

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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