What is a Brand Archetype?
Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung understood archetypes as “universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct”.
We know you don’t read our blog for a psychology lesson, but bear with us, there’s a point to this. Jung theorized that humans use symbolism to simplify and easily understand complicated concepts. Jung also believed that these symbols, or archetypes, are often very similar across cultures as they are shared by the collective unconsciousness of the human race. Thus, the archetypes are imprinted and hardwired in our psyche. Think about popular culture, movies, the stories you grew up hearing… They often have similar “classic” characters, the hero, the villain, the sidekick, the damsel in the distress and so forth. And when the hero is presented to you, you don’t question that he’s courageous, honorable and strong. It’s imprinted in your mind that those are the characteristics of the hero.
So what does this have to do with brand? Jung’s 12 archetypes are a great tool for any brand professional trying to focus their teams’ efforts or clarify their brand to their customers. The thought is, if you construct your brand as one of the archetypes, there will be a lot of implicit connotations for your customer to read into your brand story.
Below we’ll illustrate the twelve archetypes and provide examples of brands that can fall into them:
The innocent live for happiness and are often somewhat nostalgic. They’re pure, optimistic and enthusiastic, perhaps the type we imagine to see the best in people. The innocent brand takes you back to a happier and simpler time.
Brand Promise: Simplicity.
Examples: Coca-Cola | Dove | McDonald’s
The Sage is driven by wisdom and knowledge. Sage brands often challenge you to think in a new way and enjoy introducing you to new ideas and information.
Brand Promise: Wisdom.
Examples: National Geographic Channel | Google | The New Yorker
The explorer craves adventure and longs to discover the world. Explorer brands provide you freedom, self-discovery and aim to satisfy your wanderlust.
Brand Promise: Adventure.
Examples: The North Face | Jeep | Red Bull
The outlaw seeks revolution and fears nothing. You can’t tame the Outlaw brand and you can’t tell them what to think. Take it or leave it, it’s their way or the highway.
Brand Promise: Rebellion.
Examples: Harley Davidson | Dodge | Jack Daniel’s
The Magician wants to inspire you and make your dreams a reality. The Magician brand strives to immerse you in something other than your day-to-day, by transporting you to a different reality or perhaps the future.
Brand Promise: Dream.
Examples: Walt Disney | Absolut Vodka | Tesla
The hero is on a mission for the greater good. Hero brands strive to make the world a better place. The hero brand challenges you to rise to the occasion and triumph.
Brand Promise: Triumph.
Examples: Nike | Under Armour | FedEx
The Lover inspires love and passion. A lover brand wants to connect with you and be there for your most intimate moments. The lover brand is there when you want to celebrate or indulge yourself or someone else.
Brand Promise: Indulgence.
Examples: Victoria’s Secret | Godiva | Porsche
The Jester lives in the moment. Jester brands use humor, silliness and nonsense to connect with you and make you smile.
Brand Promise: Entertainment.
Examples: Old Spice | Skittles | Wendy’s
The everyman is the average Joe. The Everyman brands are down to earth and humble, staying away from pretension, luxury and status - they are there for you, come as you are.
Brand Promise: Belonging.
Examples: IKEA | Home Depot | Pabst Blue Ribbon
The caregiver is driven by their need to protect and care for others. Caregiver brands are compassionate, nurturing and generous.
Brand Promise: Comfort.
Examples: Volvo | Campbell’s Soup | Johnson & Johnson
The ruler is driven by desire and control. Like a good ruler, Ruler brands are confident, dominant, elegant and powerful.
Brand Promise: Power.
Examples: Mercedes-Benz | American Express | Rolex
Driven by imagination and innovation, the Creator brand strives to build and invent things with value and meaning. Creator brands are imaginative and expressive, and as Apple says: (they) Think Different-ly.
Brand Promise: Innovation.
Examples: Apple| Canon | Lego
What category a brand falls into is not black and white, someone might perceive a brand as a hero brand while others will perceive that same brand as a explorer brand. And many brands can arguably fall into more than one category. But technicalities aside, this is a great tool for any business, big or small, to use to develop and clarify their brand identity. Think about if your business was a person, which one of these 12 would they be? And then before you send out a marketing communication, ask yourself if that is something that archetype would do or say?
As always, if you need help figuring out your brand strategy contact us for a complimentary consultation.