Industry Tips

The Power Behind Brand Archetypes


What’s a brand?

A brand, is a group of elements that identify a company and distinguish it from the competition. This might include logo, colors and slogans. Thanks in part to new technologies like social media, brands are becoming more complex over time.

ArchetypesWhat’s an archetype?

Archetypes are images and concepts that transcend time and culture. They’re icons that impregnate the myths and legends from the past and the movies and tv shows of our present.

According to Jung, archetypes appear in our thoughts and dreams. They help us untangle our subconscious mind and explain our deepest longings and needs as human beings. This might be easier to understand as we talk about each archetype a bit ahead.

There are a total of 12 brand archetypes that are divided into four general human needs. Each archetype represents a more specific need that branches out from the main one.

Archetypes that yearn for Paradise

Coca-Colaa) Innocent (wants to be Safe)

With a positive and kind speech, this archetype sees the good in everything. Brands who use this archetype might want to make their customers feel safe and beautiful on the inside. Some brands that represent the innocent archetypes are: Nintendo Wii, Coca Cola, Dove

b) Sage (wants to understand)

The Sage is an archetype that will never know too much. His ultimate goal is to understand all things. Brands that identify with this archetype tend to have a humanist side and want to help those who follow them. Some brands that represent the Sage archetype are: Google, BBC, Oprah

c) Explorer (wants to be free)

This archetype wants to travel the world and experience everything it has to offer. Consequently, a  brand that has chosen the Explorer as its archetype may offer their clients a chance to escape. Marketing campaigns may evolve around images of far-away places. Some brands that represent the Explorer archetype are: Corona, Red Bull, REI

Archetypes that yearn to leave a mark on the world

apple-meeta) Outlaw (wants to liberate)

Particularly, this archetype wants a revolution and is not scared to break the rules to achieve it. By all means, the brands cater to misfits and/or people who like living on the edge. Some brands that represent the Outlaw archetype are: Virgin, Harley-Davidson, Diesel

b) Magician (wants power)

Indeed, this archetype knows so much that it might seem supernatural at times. They promise their customers to make their dreams come true by using their impressive skills. It is no wonder that many technology brands use this archetype. Some brands that represent the Magician archetype are: Apple, Absolute Vodka, Axe

c) Hero (wants to master)

In other words, heroes are brave, selfless, stand up to the bad guy and defend the underdog. Above all, brands that shape themselves after the Hero sell themselves to their customers as the ones who will rescue them from their woes. Some brands that represent the Hero archetype are: Snickers, Nike, Ariel, Printsome

Archetypes that yearn to connect with others:

Visaa) Lover (wants intimacy)

The lover archetype is an idealist dreaming not only of sensual pleasure, but true love as well.  Similarly, a company that identifies itself with this archetype will most likely use suggestive imagery to evoque sensations. Some brands that represent the Lover archetype are: Häaguen-Dazs, Baileys, Chanel

b) Jester (wants enjoyment)

This archetype is the very definition of an hedonist – Its only mission in life is to enjoy it. Above all, a marketing campaign designed for a Jester brand would probably be very funny or at least entertaining. Everyone loves to laugh, that’s why Jesters are some of the most beloved brands, or at least have the most memorable ads. Some brands that represent the Jester archetype are: M&M’s, Old Spice, Budweiser

c) Everyman (wants to belong)

Who’s the everyman (also known as the regular guy/girl)? Well, you look at him/her when you look in the mirror. Therefore, brands who identify with the Everyman archetype relate to people on a “real” level. The Everyman marketing campaign usually evolves around everyday life activities and routines. Their message: It is perfectly fine to be normal. Likewise, brands that represent the Everyman archetype are: IKEA, Kit Kat, Visa

Archetypes that yearn to provide structure to the world

microsoft-neuromarketinga) Creator (wants to innovate)

In addition to creators (also called builders) are non-conforming by nature, they want to build a better world using the tools at their disposal. In addition, a  creator brand will empower its customers to use their creativity by selling them a world of possibilities. Some brands that represent the Creator archetype: Lego, Adobe, Crayola

b) Ruler (wants to control)

For instance, a brand that wants to “Rule them all” will have a narrative demonstrating why they’re the industry’s leader. An equally important type of brands will suggest to their customers that they can be rulers, too. Equally important, brands that represent the Ruler archetype are: Microsoft, British Airways, Mercedes-Benz

c) Caregiver (wants to service others)

If the Ruler archetype is your boss then the Caregiver archetype is your parent. They empathise, want to help and protect their clients. Their message tends to be very positive. A Caregiver brand will exude an aura of selflessness. Coupled with, brands representing the Caregiver archetype are: UNICEF, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz.

How will this help my brand?

In conclusion, designing a marketing strategy around an archetype will help you define your message and communication strategy. Therefore, it is a creative exercise that will help you explore your brand’s identity and make it stand out from the rest.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!