Brand archetypes are based upon Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, universal symbols and themes that exist in the collective human unconscious. In the context of branding, these archetypes can be referenced to create a consistent and relatable brand identity that resonates with consumers on a deep, emotional level – after all, up to 95% of purchasing decisions occur in the subconscious mind. By aligning a brand with a specific archetype, marketers can more effectively cement a brand’s values, personality, and purpose.
There are arguments as to whether there are eight or 12 brand archetypes, but for today we’ll introduce you to the whole dozen and discuss how they influence consumer buying behaviours. You’re bound to see your business in there somewhere…
Our twelve brand archetypes for today are The Outlaw, Creator, Magician, Hero, Lover, Jester, Everyman, Caregiver, Ruler, Innocent, Sage, and Explorer.
Examples: Virgin, Doc Martens, MTV
Feeling rebellious? The Outlaw is a rebel with a cause, keen to disrupt the status quo in their quest for liberation. Their tactics might be unorthodox, and they take pride in their disregard for authority. Outlaw brands challenge societal norms and everyday habits in their marketing campaigns to connect with like-minded customers and avoid formality when communicating with them.
Examples: Adobe, Lego, Tesla
The Creators are visionaries with a serious dose of imagination. This archetype is about creating and shaping perceptions, experiences, and the world. Customers who align themselves with The Creator are not big fans of traditional advertising, mediocre products, and existing features, and they are willing to pay a premium for products that inspire creativity and help them express themselves best.
Examples: Disney, Dyson, Alton Towers
The Magician is seen as a true visionary, and wishes to create something inspirational and make your dreams a reality. Brands that provide a product or service that takes their customers on a transformational journey (worn out to new; lost to found) could reasonably consider the Magician archetype as the personality to connect with their audience – think resorts, spas, theme parks and holiday destinations.
Examples: Nike, North Face, Underarmour
The Hero archetype is associated with bravery, resilience, and triumph over adversity. Brands that adopt this archetype often position themselves as leaders in their industry, promising to help customers overcome challenges and achieve their goals. The Hero wants to save the day to prove their worth to themselves so the world knows of their ability.
Examples: Victoria Secret, Haagen-Daaz, Tiffany
This archetype is all about passion, intimacy, and sensuality. Brands that identify with this archetype often focus on creating emotional connections with their customers and emphasize the pleasure and satisfaction their products or services provide. Because of their attraction to sensory pleasure, communication and messaging should use sensual (not necessarily sexual) language and tone. Brands can leverage their audience’s desire for sensual pleasure through sight, sound, smell, or touch.
Examples: CBBC, Nickelodeon, M&Ms
The Jester brings joy to the world through humour, fun, and irreverence, and often likes to make some mischief – perfect for the young and the young at heart. Laughter is a time-honoured way to create a memorable and enjoyable brand experience.
Examples: eBay, Ikea, Gap
Marketing and branding often have a strong focus on standing out, whereas the Everyman tends to be all about blending in. Create a true feeling of belonging by crafting an inclusive and welcoming community, that aligns with their core values. Your customers see you as supportive, faithful and down-to-earth.
While it can be hard to differentiate an Everyman brand from the competition, the key is to continuously produce high-quality, affordable products that customers find value in to offset that.
Examples: WWF, Pampers, SMA
The Caregiver archetype is characterised by compassion, nurturing, and a desire to help others. Brands aligned with this archetype often emphasise their commitment to customer well-being, support, and service – caregiver brands always put their customers first, and this needs to be reflected everywhere, from their products and packaging to advertisements and overall brand voice.
Examples: Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar
The Ruler radiates authority, control, and leadership. Brands that adopt this archetype position themselves as dominant, reliable, and in charge, often appealing to customers who value stability and order. Trying to cater to a broad audience won’t capture the Ruler’s interest and may even deter them. Brands embodying the Ruler archetype should instead continually remind their customers that they stand at the pinnacle of success and belong to an exclusive, elite group.
Examples: Dove, Innocent, Whole Foods
The Innocent archetype embodies purity, simplicity, and optimism. Brands aligned with this archetype often emphasise the goodness and simplicity of their products or services, appealing to customers seeking a fresh start or a sense of purity. The Innocent wants to inspire you to take a step back and seek happiness in the simplicity of life. Images conveying moments of peacefulness and nostalgia are often used in this archetype’s marketing.
Examples: Oxford University, TED, BBC
Fortified with wisdom, knowledge, and expertise, brands that embody the Sage archetype position themselves as authorities in their field and offer guidance, education, and solutions to their customers. Guided by truth-seeking, the Sage is most fulfilled by finding answers to the most challenging questions.
Examples: Land Rover, Patagonia, National Geographic
The Explorer brand archetype desires adventure and yearns to explore the world independently. They are known for their ambition and spirituality, and a stand against society can go a long way to resonating with the explorer and evoking their desires.
Brand archetypes serve as a valuable tool for distinguishing your brand, infusing it with a rich personality, and establishing a genuine connection with your audience.