What are brand archetypes?
Successful brands always have a very strong sense of identity. They understand who they are, what they want to achieve, but also the aspirations and the hopes of their customers. But if you’re a small business, trying to figure out who you are can be both difficult and costly. But at Attitude, we can help.
You might notice that in films and television programmes we see the same characters. The hero, the villain, the lover… they pop up all the time in popular culture. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed that these characters are instantly familiar to us because they are instinctive, primal associations - a part of a ‘collective unconscious’ that we human beings all share.
These familiar character types are called Jungian archetypes.
We specialise in working with small and medium businesses to work out what personality - and which archetype - your business fits with, based on your ideologies, and your target audiences personalities. We then work with those businesses to create an identity and a strategy that matches and appeals.
Here are the top branding archetypes:
(aka The Dreamer, The Romantic)
The main, core desire of The Innocent is to be happy and to be free. Their biggest fear is doing something wrong and getting punished for that. Think of movie characters like Wall-E. They are enthusiastic, honest and optimistic. The Innocent customers prefer simple, straight-talking advertising that doesn’t mess about. They are drawn to brands who are naturally optimistic.
Brands that fit The Innocent archetype include:
Innocent Smoothies, McDonalds, Original Source water.
The Innocent Smoothie advert uses calm and relaxing imagery, with straight forward language. This is especially crafted to appeal to innocent customers. It makes them feel good.
(aka The Warrior)
The main motivating factor for The Hero is to prove their worth. Their greatest fears are weakness and failure. Think of a person like Michael Jordan. They are determined and brave, but can be arrogant and aggressive in nature. They want to triumph, and actively promote this. They believe they are superior to the competition.
Brands that fit The Hero archetype include:
Duracell, Nike, Apple
The Nike advert is all about being a hero. Using well known football players to tell an aspirational story is a great way to communicate the hero archetype.
(aka Everyman, The Good Guy, The Regular Guy)
This is the regular person, who just want to belong and feel a part of something. They hate to be left out. Think of characters like Homer Simpson. They’re both friendly and reliable, but can also be superficial. The Everyman likes quality and dependability from a company, and prefer the familiarity of something that they know. They will emotionally invest in a brand that they feel they can trust.
Brands that fit The Everyman archetype include:
Carling, Vodafone, eBay
This famous Carling advert is all about comfortable friendship amongst men. It shows regular guys doing what regular guys do.
(aka The Nurturer, The Saint, The Parent)
This archetype, The Nurturer, is driven by their need to be protective and to be caring for others. Think of people such as Ghandi. They are generous, strong and can be very compassionate, but also manipulative and codependent. Customers that fit The Nurturer archetype want to get recognition for their efforts, and hate aggress adverts. They like adverts that are emotionally driven.
Brands that fit The Nurturer archetype include:
SMA, Ford, Go Compare
The baby formula brand SMA are one of the best examples of The Nurturer brand in the UK. This advert is all about celebrating the unsung heroes, parents.
(aka The Artist, The Dreamer)
The Creator is strongly driven by a desire to product some exceptional work that is loved and endearing. They are afraid of being average. Think about a character like Doc Brown from Back To The Future. They are both expressive and innovative, but also self-indulgent and have narcissistic tendencies. The Creator customers are likely to prefer adverts that are quirky or novel. They can be a difficult category to appeal to… although many successful Creator brands have a strong fanbase.
Brands that fit The Creator archetype include:
Apple, Lego, Canon
This lego advert shows the power of being a creator. It exposes the inner creator from the perspective of a child and a parent blending in emotion into the creator story.
(aka The Seeker, The Wanderer)
The archetype of The Explorer wants adventure, mystery and exploration. They want to discover the world. Think of a TV character like Indiana Jones. They are very strong, independent people, with great ambitions and desires. Customers that fit The Explorer archetype love a brand that promotes freedom and self-discovery.
Brands that fit The Explorer archetype include:
The North Face, Land Rover, GoPro
In this advert for GoPro, they actively promote exploring and adventure, with strong, beautiful imagery of incredible places you could take your GoPro camera, and adventures and experiences that you can have at the same time.
(aka The Outlaw, The Revolutionary)
The archetype of The Rebel seeks revolution and revenge, they hate the idea of being powerless. Think of movie character James Dean. They are brave, free-spirited and adaptable. The Rebel customers appreciate things that are different or unconventional. They actively reject the status quo.
Brands that fit The Rebel archetype include:
Levis, Diesel, Harley Davidson, Apple
In this advert for Apple is called "1984". It has nothing to do with computers but everything to do with the rebel archetype.
(aka The Dreamer, The Idealist)
The Lover is an archetype who wants to experience pleasure in their relationships, with their partners, colleagues and friends. They want to be loved. Think of someone like Marilyn Monroe. They are very passionate and committed. The Lover customers highly value the appearance of products and the aesthetic appeal. They likely love premium-feel brands.
Brands that fit The Lover archetype include:
Galaxy chocolate, Herbal Essences, Victoria’s Secret
This advert is extremely powerful in sending a message. By glamorising women, it makse them feel sexy and more appealing to a potential partner. It’s something they can aspire to, saying “buy our products and you will be loved.”
(aka The Shaman, The Visionary)
The archetype of The Magician wants knowledge, they want to understand the universe and find their place in it. Think of someone like Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk of Tesla. Extremely driven, and charismatic, they have a strong effect on people. Their customers want to feel like they become wiser, or influence people. They like imaginative and inspiring adverts.
Brands that fit The Magician archetype include:
Disney, Lynx, Dreamworks
The Disney advert here doesn’t show off the theme parks or the rides. It simply focuses on the experience of going there with your family. They want you to feel like you can influence your children’s happiness.
(aka The Leader, The King)
The Ruler archetype is driven by a strong desire for control and for power. Think of someone like Margaret Thatcher. They are confident, in control and responsible. Their customers are naturally dominating people, they don’t appreciate patronising adverts.
Brands that fit The Ruler archetype include:
Hugo Boss, American Express, Rolex
The advert above from American Express is all about luxury, and power. The main person, Jose Mourinho, is a leader and is a success in his industry, with an affluent lifestyle. Perfect embodiment of the aspiring Ruler customer.
(aka The Fool, The Comedian)
This archetype of The Jester wants to enjoy life, be happy and live in the moment. They don’t like boredom. Think of someone like Jim Carrey. Joyful and carefree, they are original but can be irresponsible. A Jester customer will find a standard advert somewhat boring, but like anything that is unusual or playful.
Brands that fit The Jester archetype include:
This Skittles advert, "Midas Touch" is all about being funny and silly. The whole advert is just a surreal joke which portrays the brand as a fun and enjoyable thing to experience.
(aka The Teacher, The Scholar)
The Sage is an archetype who seeks out the truth and knowledge, they want wisdom. Think of popular Star Wars character Yoda. They are both wise and open-minded, but can also be self-absorbed. The customers that fit The Sage believe that knowledge can come from growth. They look for new information all the time.
Brands that fit The Sage archetype include:
National Geographic, University of Oxford
The above advert from National Geographic has some fascinating, thought-provoking statements alongside some gorgeous natural and historical scenery. It’s all about learning and curiosity, and appeals to anybody wanting to understand the world.
So, what have we learned? There are 12 main archetypes that most successful businesses and their customers fit into, but a number of variations of these. To find out more about archetypes and branding, download our free eBook by clicking the link below.
"The earlier on in your business’ journey that you can uncover the true identity of your brand - the character that your brand is meant to live out - the sooner that your team can begin to live it, and leave a lasting impression in your customers’ minds."