What is a Brand Archetype?

A brand archetype is essentially your brand’s persona. It outlines what you value, your approach to customer service and so much more.

Your brand’s persona provides a human-like quality that your customers can relate to. While on the surface it might sound silly to create a persona for a non-living, abstract thing, it’s actually wise because it helps create a consistent customer experience.

Without branding, your customers will struggle to know what you offer that your competitors don’t or find ways to connect with you on a deeper level to build loyalty and serve as an advocate through reviews and referrals.

Outlining your brand’s archetype provides a blueprint for how you describe your brand and ensures that all communication coming from your company is consistent.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

Carl Jung introduced the concept of archetypes in 1917, explaining that people have inborn tendencies that impact their behavior. Brands can use these same 12 archetypes to outline and define themselves based on their mission, vision and values.

It’s best to choose one archetype that captures your organization, but you can have a secondary archetype as well. If using a secondary archetype, know that this aspect of your persona should have less emphasis in your messaging and serve as a smaller part of who you are.

Review the 12 archetypes and consider which best fits your brand.

1. Caregiver: protects and selflessly cares for others. Caregivers are often characterized by compassion and generosity.

2. Creator: has a strong sense of vision and believes that anything you can dream up can be achieved. They are creative and have a strong sense of imagination.

3. Everyman: is down to earth, real and empathetic. A belief that everyone is created equal drives people and brands who encompass this archetype.

4. Explorer: seeking out new experiences is important to the explorer. They are ambitious and seek autonomy. They don’t want anything to hold them back.

5. Hero: is there when you need them and works hard to be strong and competent in their field.

6. Innocent: strives to do things right while still being free to be who they are.

7. Jester: aims to have a great time and keep the mood light and fun. They are joyful and seek to live in the moment.

8. Lover: builds strong relationships with people and exhibits strong gratitude, passion and commitment in all that they do.

9. Magician: makes things happen and strives to find solutions to problems.

10. Outlaw: believes rules were meant to be broken and is characterized by radical freedom and a fear of being ineffectual.

11. Ruler: exercises power and likes to be in control. This archetype is characterized by strong leadership skills and a sense of responsibility.

12. Sage: seeks truth through analysis, knowledge and self-reflection. These individuals are wise and intelligent.

Bringing Brand Archetypes to Life

Now that you know the main characteristics of the 12 brand archetypes, let’s look at examples of brands that fit these various archetypes so you can see how they apply to a brand’s persona.

1. Caregiver: Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, BAND-AID

2. Creator/Artist: GoPro, Lego, Crayola

3. Everyman: Budweiser, Target, eBay

4. Explorer: Volvo, Clif Bar, Red Bull

5. Hero: Marines, FedEx, Nike

6. Innocent: Pure Leaf, Dove Soap, Cottonelle

7. Jester: Old Spice, M&M’s, Ben & Jerry’s

8. Lover: Chanel, Dove Chocolate, Victoria’s Secret

9. Magician: MasterCard, Walt Disney World, Dyson

10. Outlaw: PayPal, Harley-Davidson, Virgin

11. Ruler: Mercedes Benz, Rolex, Microsoft

12. Sage: Google, CNN, Philips

Why You Should Outline Your Brand Archetype

Brands choose to align themselves with an archetype for two main reasons.

1. Build customer relationships: consumers want to purchase products and services from companies they relate to and connect with. A little personality and effective brand promises can help you build meaningful customer relationships. A brand archetype humanizes your brand to help customers relate to you.

2. Market differentiation: nearly every business has competitors who offer a similar product or service. Because of that, it’s challenging to showcase what sets you apart from your competitors. An archetype makes it clear what’s different about you compared to the competition.

Outlining your brand archetype is just one element of building an effective and relatable brand. To provide your customers with a consistent experience, you need brand guidelines.

Brand guidelines can outline your identity in many ways:

· Logos, file formats, use cases, size minimums and more

· Color palette and how to use it

· Font families, styling, and other typography information

· Imagery use and customization techniques

· Voice and tone guidelines, including brand archetype to guide persona

· How your brand is to be perceived through it’s mission and values

· Examples of how your brand lives in the world

· Stationery and marketing material examples

· Promotional items

· Mission statement and brand values

· Company culture

· Writing style (APA, Chicago, etc.) & writing tone

· Boilerplate language (in different variations)

· User personas

· Visual ad layouts

· Event collateral, including banner, booth & signage

· Landing page layout

· Email signatures

· Core messaging and brand voice

· Presentation templates

· Imagery standards for social media

· Guidance for curated and user-generated content

· Campaign-specific branding standards

· Email marketing templates

· Division specific visual identities

· And so much more!

At Design Positive, we also advocate for including an accessibility section in your brand guidelines. Accessibility supports customers with permanent, temporary and situational accessibility needs.

If you already have brand guidelines, you can add a brand archetype to provide greater detail for who you are. Branding guidelines are living documents that should adapt and grow with your business.

The more detailed your brand guidelines are, the easier it will be for you to onboard new marketing team members or collaborate with outside agencies to help you develop your marketing content.

Unsure what you should include in your brand guidelines or how to build out your brand archetype? Start by considering who your target audience is and how you’ll reach them. This will provide important insights into how you’ll advertise your business and the messaging that will resonate with this audience. That will impact the brand persona and archetype you use.

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency. We help brands develop their visual and verbal identities to build better customer relationships.

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency.