Brand Archetypes: Creating a Strong Brand Identity

What are Brand Archetypes?

A successful brand is built upon its own unique personality or perception in the minds of its customers. Just like a person, the way people perceive about a brand has a huge impact on the success of a business. Although each human is a unique individual with his/her own personality, we also share many traits, which help us make more sense of ourselves and society. Same is the case with brands that try to personify things and connect with their customers. The way customers connect with a brand and how they perceive about it mainly depends on the brand’s personality.

Just like human personalities that have been characterized based on different traits, brands have also been classified into 12 master archetypes. Everyone understands these archetypes as they are essentially shared universal themes and undercurrent to all humans who can connect to them without ever getting tired. Brands archetypes make customers relate to a particular brand as if they were real humans with unique traits and characteristics.

Why Brand Archetypes are so Important?

A successful brand mirrors aspirations and hopes of customers and has a strong sense of individuality and identity. Big brand names and enterprises have all the resources and marketing know-how to establish their unique identity, but that doesn’t mean small businesses and budding businesses should not find their own voice.

Brand archetypes make it a lot easier for brands to identify their voice and connect with the audience in a more personal way. The archetypes are like all-too-familiar characters that keep popping again and are instantly familiar to us. Determining a brand archetype can greatly help in creating a strong brand identity and developing a business strategy aligned with a particular archetype. Let’s jump straight to the list of brand archetypes (in no specific order) and explore your best business fit. The names of different archetypes might differ slightly, but they all carry the same meaning.

1. The Creator

Driven by a passion to design and create something of exceptional value and benefit, brands belonging to this archetype are true innovators and always try to lead the industry by example. These brands hate mediocrity and although not always the most successful brands, their fan base is devout and very loyal. Apple is an excellent example of a creator brand, a brand that gave us the first consumer-friendly touch phone followed by products most other companies still try to copy (consider the notch display as an example). Compared to brands that prioritize order and facts, creator brands value creativity and engage with their customers at a more emotional level.

2. The Ruler

Microsoft is a relevant example of a ruler brand, which is primarily driven by their desire to control and maintain order. These brands fear chaos and disorder the most and would go to all extremes to avoid being overthrown. For them, power is the only thing, which might result in these brands getting out of touch with the reality. The Ruler is confident, feels responsibility and is mostly fair, but they can also be rigid and uncompromisingly controlling. These brands advertise themselves as being in control and as market leaders with a polished image. Being perceived as a weak brand is the last thing the ruler wants and would do anything to create a successful and prosperous family.

3. The Sage

Also known as the teacher or the scholar, the sage seeks the truth and fear being ignorant and mislead. They are articulate, open-minded and are firm believers of growth-from-knowledge. They use analysis and intelligence to better understand the world around them and are guided by the discovery of the truth. These brands are well aware of their abilities, bit still do not want to show off too much.

However, inability to always act might be their biggest weakness as they can end up studying details forever and never actually act. Since these brands trust their customers to grasp intellectual and complex ideas, they use symbolic imagery and high-level vocabulary in their communications. PBS and National Geographic Channel are some of the most popular sages that encourage their audience to think and develop a better understanding of the world around them.

4. The Innocent

Young and free, the innocent aka romantic, dreamer strives to do the right things and mainly rely on faith and optimism to stay happy. Since they fear getting punished for doing something wrong, they are naïve and try not to get involved in complex and sophisticated stuff. They offer simple solutions to problems and associate themselves with morality, simplicity and goodness. They also price moderately and differentiate themselves from others as being straightforward, caring and utopian.

At their worst the innocent can be childish, irritating and boring, but that’s about it. Innocent types are like a smile coming from TVs as they use a straightforward language and promote themselves as simple, pure and trustworthy. Dove soap and Innocent smoothies are good examples of such brands.

5. The Explorer

The explorer or The Wanderer believes in an authentic world and a more fulfilling life through exploring the world and experiencing new things. Conformity and getting trapped are their biggest fears, while they also risk becoming a misfit and an aimless wanderer due to their very nature. Their target market consists of customers who are also explorers and adventurers and are willing to take bold risks. Since their ultimate goal is to experience something unknown and new, their ads also avoid sounding corporate and too rigid. The North Face is one good example of such brands that revolves entirely around exploration-related products.

6. The Caregiver

Also known as the Nurturer and The Saint, the Caregiver is deeply concerned about helping others while being strong at the same time. They are compassionate and generous, but can also be manipulative and masochistic. Emotionally-driven ads are their thing and they want to be recognized for their hard work and effort. An exploitative or harmful product is nurturer’s nightmare as safety and great customer support are of utmost importance to them. Most caregivers belong to sectors including healthcare, charities and education organizations. In the commercial sector, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo can be a good example of how the caregiver cares about others (babies).

7. The Hero

The Hero aka the Warrior strives to prove its worth and value efficiency and quality. This archetype at their worst can be aggressive, arrogant and ruthless and fear failure more than anything else. These brands promote themselves as being superior to their competition and have a high self-esteem. One such example is Duracell, a brand that presents itself as a warrior that is competitive and confident.

8. The Magician

The magician is driven and charismatic on a good day, but dishonest, manipulative and disconnected from the reality on a really bad day. These traits make them fear unwanted negative consequences of exploration, while their customers feel they can somehow influence others by using magician’s products. That’s why their advertisements are imaginative and promote the brand as being a gateway to transformation. Their focus is on individuals and they try to convince the customers to make a purchase by encouraging them to trust their gut instincts. Walt Disney is one example of such brands as it aims to make things happen and turn complex stuff into something that appears simple.

9. The Outlaw

Also known as the revolutionary, the rebels are free-spirited, adaptable and brave. They crave revolution and fear powerlessness more than anything else. They can also be destructive and might get out of control on bad days. The Outlaws are appreciated by rebel customers who themselves are against the status quo. Rebel brands such as Harley Davidson perceive themselves as a revolutionary alternative to mainstream bread and take pride in being different.

10. The Lover

The idealist, dreamer or the lover craves pleasure in everything and fear being unloved. They are passionate, committed and magnetic at their best and shallow and obsessive at their worst. The appearance of things is important to them and they easily get drawn to premium or luxury stuff. These brands advertise themselves as being glamorous, attractive and put a lot of emphasis on sensual pleasure. Examples of lover brands include Galaxy chocolate and Herbal Essences.

11. The Jester

Also known as the comedian or the fool, the jester wants to have a great time and enjoy every moment. These brands are carefree, joyful and original at their best, while they can also turn cruel, irresponsible and lighthearted at their worst. Their target audience loves the playful or unusual stuff as they find usual adverts boring. Jesters are about entertainment and mainly target young customers who like silliness and unusual stuff. Skittles is one such brand that doesn’t even bother to feature the product in adverts.

12. The Everyman or Regular Guy

The regular guy aka the good guy doesn’t try to stand out from the crowd and only wants to connect with others and fit in nicely. Most everyman brands produce everyday stuff and are friendly, reliable and empathetic at their best and superficial, suggestible and weak at their worst. Although they do not like being pointed out or stand out from the crowd, they do value reliability, dependability, and quality. These down-to-earth brands believe that everyone is created equal and their desire to connect with others is based on trust. Wendy’s, Home Depot and Carling are some examples of regular good guys.