Brand Archetypes

Brand Archetypes defined: Noted psychologist Carl Jung (pronounced: “young”) theorized that humans use symbolism to more easily understand complex concepts. As a result of his research, Jung stated: “There are forms or images of a collective nature which occur practically all over the earth as constituents of myths and at the same time, as individual products of unconscious.”

In this work, Jung maintained that over the course of all time, for people, certain paths to greater understanding remain both recognizable and timeless. And that these paths to greater understanding should be categorized. Further, that these categories exhibit personality traits that are easily understood—and in the case of brands, by customers and by the companies looking to define their customer audiences. Archetypes, he called them.

“These [archetypes] are imprinted and hardwired into our psyches.”

When properly identified, brand archetypes will reflect the personality of brands and serves to better align personality type with specific Customer Personas. As it applies to brand, this idea of archetypes is fairly universal and may be particularly effective as an orienting tool for brand managers looking to focus the efforts of their team.

There are twelve brand archetypes: The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • The Innocent: Exhibits happiness, goodness, optimism, safety, romance, and youth. Example brands include: Coca-Cola, Nintendo Wii, Dove
  • The Everyman: Seeks connections and belonging; is recognized as supportive, faithful and down-to-earth. Example brands include: IKEA, Home Depot, eBay
  • The Hero: On a mission to make the world a better place, the Hero is courageous, bold, inspirational. Example brands include: Nike, BMW, Duracell
  • The Rebel: Questions authority and breaks the rules; the Rebel craves rebellion and revolution. Example brands include: Virgin, Harley-Davidson, Diesel (jeans)
  • The Explorer: Finds inspiration in travel, risk, discovery, and the thrill of new experiences. Example brands include: Jeep, Red Bull, REI
  • The Creator: Imaginative, inventive and driven to build things of enduring meaning and value. Example brands include: Lego, Crayola, Adobe
  • The Ruler: Creates order from the chaos, the Ruler is typically controlling and stern, yet responsible and organized. Example brands include: Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, British Airways
  • The Magician: Wishes to create something special and make dreams a reality, the Magician is seen as visionary and spiritual. Example brands include: Apple, Disney, Absolut
  • The Lover: Creates intimate moments, inspires love, passion, romance and commitment. Example brands include: Victoria’s Secret, Chanel, Haagen Dazs
  • The Caregiver: Protects and cares for others, is compassionate, nurturing and generous. Example brands include: Johnson & Johnson, Campbell’s Soup, UNICEF
  • The Jester: Brings joy to the world through humor, fun, irreverence and often likes to make some mischief. Example brands include: Old Spice, Ben & Jerry’s, M&Ms
  • The Sage: Committed to helping the world gain deeper insight and wisdom, the Sage serves as the thoughtful mentor or advisor. Example brands include: Google, PBS, Philips

Brand Archetype process and deliverables:

  • Aligning brand with brand archetype personality and motivators
  • Informs internal content creators and external creative partners
  • Fine-tune brand offerings to affiliated Customer Persona types

Brand Archetypes Work