What are brand archetypes – Dave Holloway – Freelance brand strategist and designer in Leeds

What are brand archetypes and why do they matter?

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In the dynamic world of marketing, understanding the power of brand archetypes has become a must for savvy marketing managers and business owners. These archetypes have their roots in the fascinating theories of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist who rocked the psychology world back in the early 1900s. Born on July 26, 1875, Jung’s ideas continue to shape our understanding of the human mind and have even found their way into the realm of branding.

an explanation of brand archetypes by Dave Holloway – brand strategist in yorkshire

A collective unconscious view of the world

Jung believed that deep within our minds, we all have a collective unconscious. It’s like a hidden treasure chest of universal patterns, symbols, and instincts that influence how we think, feel, and behave. It doesn’t matter where we come from or what we’ve experienced; these archetypes are part of our shared humanity. And guess what? They also play a big role in how we relate to brands.

Just as we’re drawn to certain archetypal patterns, consumers are naturally attracted to brands that embody specific archetypes. When a brand aligns with a particular archetype, it taps into something deep within us, triggering emotions and associations we may not even be aware of. It’s like brand magic!

Brands that truly embrace their chosen archetype create a distinct and consistent brand identity. This identity speaks to consumers on an emotional level, forging a connection based on trust, familiarity, and shared values. By harnessing the power of archetypal symbolism and storytelling, brands can weave captivating narratives that captivate their audience and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Understanding and embracing brand archetypes empowers marketers to build that emotional bond with their target audience. It goes beyond product features and benefits; it’s about speaking to the heart and soul of consumers. By identifying the archetype that best fits their brand’s personality and values, marketers can strategically position their brand and craft marketing campaigns that evoke the desired emotional response.

What are brand archetypes?

The 12 Brand Archetypes

1. The Innocent

The Innocent archetype represents purity, simplicity, and optimism. Brands that embody this archetype often emphasise goodness, nostalgia, and a fresh start. Traits demonstrated by the Innocent archetype include being sincere, optimistic, trusting, and pure-hearted. Brands like Coca-Cola and Dove exemplify this archetype by promoting happiness, simplicity, and a sense of purity in their messaging.

2. The Explorer

The Explorer archetype symbolises adventure, independence, and freedom. Brands that align with this archetype inspire a sense of exploration and the desire for new experiences. Traits associated with the Explorer archetype include being adventurous, curious, independent, and open-minded. Patagonia and Jeep are examples of brands that embrace the Explorer archetype, appealing to customers who seek to break free from routine and embrace new adventures.

3. The Sage

The Sage archetype stands for wisdom, knowledge, and expertise. Brands embodying this archetype position themselves as trusted sources of information and aim to educate and enlighten their audience. Traits associated with the Sage archetype include being wise, knowledgeable, analytical, and insightful. Harvard University and TED are well-known brands that adopt the Sage archetype, emphasising their expertise and commitment to sharing valuable knowledge.

4. The Hero

The Hero archetype embodies bravery, strength, and resilience. Brands that align with this archetype motivate customers to overcome challenges and achieve greatness. Traits associated with the Hero archetype include being courageous, determined, strong, and inspirational. Nike and BMW exemplify the Hero archetype by showcasing stories of individuals who overcome obstacles and achieve extraordinary feats.

5. The Magician

The Magician archetype represents transformation, innovation, and mystery. Brands embracing this archetype captivate customers through their magical and transformative experiences. Traits demonstrated by the Magician archetype include being imaginative, charismatic, visionary, and transformative. Lego and Disney are brands that embrace the Magician archetype, offering innovative and transformative products and experiences to their customers.

6. The Rebel

The Rebel archetype symbolises revolution, non-conformity, and unconventionality. Brands that embody this archetype challenge the status quo and appeal to individuals who seek to break free from societal norms. Traits associated with the Rebel archetype include being rebellious, unconventional, passionate, and independent. Harley-Davidson and Red Bull embrace the Rebel archetype, appealing to customers who embrace individuality and non-conformity.

7. The Lover

The Lover archetype stands for passion, intimacy, and desire. Brands embodying this archetype evoke feelings of love and desire, creating a sense of exclusivity and romance. Traits associated with the Lover archetype include being passionate, sensual, intimate, and committed. Victoria’s Secret and Chanel are brands that align with the Lover archetype, appealing to customers who seek luxury, romance, and a sense of desire.

8. The Jester

The Jester archetype embodies joy, humour, and spontaneity. Brands that adopt this archetype aim to entertain and make customers smile. Traits demonstrated by the Jester archetype include being humorous, playful, energetic, and light-hearted. M&M’s and Carlsberg are examples of brands that embrace the Jester archetype, using humour and wit to engage and entertain their audience.

9. The Everyman

The Everyman archetype represents relatability, down-to-earth values, and inclusivity. Brands embodying this archetype connect with a wide audience by embracing the ordinary person and emphasising their relatable qualities. Traits associated with the Everyman archetype include being down-to-earth, genuine, friendly, and relatable. IKEA and Volkswagen are brands that align with the Everyman archetype, appealing to customers by offering affordable and inclusive products and experiences.

10. The Caregiver

The Caregiver archetype symbolises compassion, empathy, and support. Brands that adopt this archetype showcase their dedication to caring for others and making a positive impact. Traits demonstrated by the Caregiver archetype include being compassionate, nurturing, supportive, and empathetic. Johnson & Johnson and UNICEF are examples of brands that align with the Caregiver archetype, emphasising their commitment to helping and caring for others.

11. The Ruler

The Ruler archetype stands for power, control, and authority. Brands embodying this archetype appeal to customers seeking a sense of status, influence, and leadership. Traits associated with the Ruler archetype include being confident, authoritative, ambitious, and decisive. Mercedes-Benz and American Express exemplify the Ruler archetype, positioning themselves as symbols of luxury, prestige, and influence.

12. The Creator

The Creator archetype embodies innovation, imagination, and artistic expression. Brands that align with this archetype inspire customers to express themselves and embrace their creativity. Traits associated with the Creator archetype include being imaginative, visionary, artistic, and innovative. Apple and Adobe are examples of brands that embrace the Creator archetype, encouraging customers to unleash their creativity and build something unique.

Why Brand Archetypes Matter

Understanding and leveraging brand archetypes offer several benefits. They help establish a clear and consistent brand identity, differentiate your brand from competitors, evoke specific emotions and associations, and create a lasting impression in the minds of consumers. By aligning your brand with a relevant archetype, you can tap into the power of storytelling and build a strong emotional connection with your target audience.

Determining Your Brand Archetype

To determine your brand archetype, reflect on your brand’s values, personality traits, and the emotional experience you want to create for your customers. Conduct market research to gain insights into your target audience’s preferences and aspirations. Additionally, consider seeking professional guidance from branding experts who can help identify and refine your brand archetype.

Building a Brand Identity Using Your Archetypes

Once you have identified your brand archetype, it’s time to build a cohesive brand identity around it. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Visual Identity: Develop a visual brand identity that aligns with your archetype. This includes your logo, colour palette, typography, and overall design elements. For example, if you align with the Innocent archetype, choose soft, soothing colours and clean, simple designs.
  2. Tone of Voice: Define the tone of voice that reflects your brand archetype. Whether it’s friendly and approachable like the Everyman archetype or authoritative and knowledgeable like the Sage archetype, ensure your communication style resonates with your target audience.
  3. Storytelling: Craft compelling brand stories that showcase your archetype in action. Use narratives, case studies, and testimonials to bring your brand to life and connect emotionally with your customers. Remember to highlight the values and emotions associated with your archetype.
  4. Consistency: Maintain consistency across all brand touchpoints. From your website to social media channels, ensure that your visual elements, tone of voice, and messaging align with your brand archetype. Consistency helps build trust and recognition in the minds of your audience.
brand archetypes - what are they and why do they matter - article by Dave Holloway, brand strategist in UK

Driving Sales with Brand Archetypes

Brand archetypes play a crucial role in driving sales and building customer loyalty. Here are some strategies to leverage your archetype for sales success:

  1. Targeted Marketing: Tailor your marketing campaigns and messaging to resonate with your target audience’s desires and aspirations. Highlight how your brand fulfils their needs through the lens of your archetype.
  2. Emotional Appeal: Tap into the emotional aspect of your archetype to create a powerful connection with your customers. Craft compelling stories, use emotive imagery, and appeal to the values associated with your archetype to evoke a strong emotional response.
  3. Differentiation: Stand out from your competitors by leveraging your brand archetype. Highlight what sets you apart and emphasise the unique aspects of your archetype to attract customers who resonate with your brand’s personality.
  4. Brand Partnerships: Collaborate with other brands or influencers that align with your archetype. By joining forces, you can amplify your reach and strengthen your brand’s association with your chosen archetype.

What are brand archetypes? Final thoughts

Understanding brand archetypes is essential for marketing managers and business owners looking to build a powerful brand identity. By aligning your brand with a specific archetype, you tap into universal symbols and associations that resonate deeply with your target audience. Remember to determine your brand archetype, build a cohesive brand identity around it, and leverage its power to drive sales and create a lasting impact.

About the author

Dave Holloway is a highly experienced designer strategist based in Leeds (UK). For 16 years, he ran a multi-award-winning creative agency working on a diverse range of projects for world-class clients. He now works in collaboration with creative agencies and directly with clients.
Whether setting the direction through intelligent brand strategy, or tactical execution through digital and offline channels, he helps businesses of all sizes to communicate more effectively. If you have a branding or web design project you’d like to discuss, please get in touch.