As humans, we rely on the ability to connect with each other - not products or services. That’s why when a brand takes on an archetype character, it increases the brand’s ability to emotionally connect. An emotional connection with your brand creates engagement and an environment of trust, which ultimately helps to facilitate sales.
The word Archetype is from the Greek words “arche” and “typos” each of which means “beginning” and “imprint”, and was first studied by psychiatrist Carl Jung in the early 20th century. Fast forward to the beginning of this century, Carol Pearson and Margaret Mark (both leadership consultants) explored Jung’s concepts, applying them to business and marketing. In that analysis, they identified twelve individual ‘archetypes’. Additionally, with their book ‘The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes’, they outlined the specific traits and values identified in each archetype.
“Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it actually were alive in some way, they have a relationship with it and care about it”. – The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes
What are the 12 Brand Archetypes?
The archetypes first identified by Carl Jung and later applied by Carol Pearson continue to resonate with us. They’ve been appearing in word-of-mouth stories, myths, movies and novels since time began. Each type symbolizes the most basic of human motivations, desires and goals and each has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits which drive it.
Here is an outline of the twelve archetypes and their traits.
- Goal: Happiness
- Fear: Punishment for doing something wrong
- Weakness: Too trusting of others
- Traits: Is pure, naive, optimistic, moral, loyal, and with a sense of romanticism strives to be good. They have a positive outlook and a happy-go-lucky personality, always looking for the silver lining.
- Marketing application: Typically a company with strong values, good virtues, which is seen as reliable and honest.
- Example Brands: Coca-Cola or Dove
The Regular Guy
- Goal: Belonging
- Fear: Being left out, or standing out from the crowd
- Weakness: Cynicism
- Traits: Dependability, unpretentious, realism, grounded, honest and open, pragmatic
- Marketing application: The Regular Guy seeks connection and is in search of where they fit in the world. In doing so The Regular Guy is a member of many groups and communities
- Example Brand: Toyota.
- Goal: To help others while protecting the weak
- Fear: Being perceived as weak
- Weakness: Always needing another battle to fight
- Traits: Courageous, honorable, just, inspiring
- Marketing application: In their quest for justice and equality The Hero has a strong sense of right and wrong. Always willing to stand up to powerful forces, The Hero thrives on standing up for those weaker than themselves
- Example Brands: Nike, BMW.
- Goal: Helping others
- Fear: Being perceived as selfish
- Weakness: Easily exploited by others
- Traits: Compassion, a giving, and generous spirit, caring, nurturing, selfless
- Marketing application: Caregivers help people to care for themselves and serve the public with their empathy and compassion.
- Example Brands: Heinz, Johnson & Johnson.
- Goal: To experience a full life through discovery
- Fear: Being forced to conform or becoming trapped in life
- Weakness: Little ability to stick with things, driven by an aimless wandering, non-mainstream
- Traits: Adventurous and pioneering spirit, independence, restlessness, one of a kind individualism
- Marketing application: The Explorer is happiest when they are experiencing new things, taking risks and being authentic. However, this drive for exploration means The Explorer can find it difficult to stick with things, such as maintaining a job or a relationship (unless of course, the environment is one in which a lot of freedom to explore is offered)
- Example Brands: Jeep, Red Bull.
- Goal: To overturn the establishment, breaking the rules and fighting authority
- Fear: Having a lack of power
- Weakness: They can run too far with their rebelliousness and become obsessive about it
- Traits: Big, bold and inspiring ideas. Rebellious, wild. Change makers.
- Marketing application: Rebels see the world differently: when they spot something that isn’t working, the aim to implement change. They’re an agent of change who breaks with typical conventions, for The Rebel, rules are meant to be broken.
- Example Brands: James Dean, Harley-Davidson.
- Goal: Harmony in relationships, intimacy, and love
- Fear: Being unwanted or unloved
- Weakness: The Lover pleases others at risk to their own sense of self. Too selfless, they will avoid conflict
- Traits: Passion, idealism, commitment, romance
- Marketing application: The Lover values harmony in all that they do above all else. They build relationships, helping others feel appreciated and like they belong in an environment of intimacy.
- Example Brands: Victoria’s Secret, Marie Claire.
- Goal: The creation of things of considerable value, whether meaningful or enduring
- Fear: Failing to create anything that is considered valuable to society
- Weakness: Constantly striving for perfection in all that they create, paralyzed for a fear of not being exceptional, often at times impractical
- Traits: Creativity, strong imagination, individualistic streak, artistic and entrepreneurial
- Marketing application: Creators are visionaries who help customers express or create. Born to bring something new into existence in the world The Creator has vision, imagination and inspiration and a strong sense of self-expression.
- Example Brands: Apple, Lego.
- Goal: To bring light into the world by making others laugh
- Fear: To be perceived as boring
- Weakness: Frivolity and hiding behind humor. Can be seen as disrespectful
- Traits: The Jester sees the funny side of everything, and uses humor to bring about positive change. They’re fun, impish and a little irreverent bringing a sense of light-heartedness to all that they do
- Marketing application: The Jester ultimately wants to make people happy. They will humor to change perceptions, help people to have a good time, or allow others to also be spontaneous.
- Example Brands: Ben & Jerry’s, Skittles.
- Goal: To understand the world and teach others by drawing upon a sense of wisdom and intelligence
- Fear: Ignorance or being perceived as unintelligent
- Weakness: Because their opinions are driven by information, The Sage is often unable to make decisions. The Sage can also be too opinionated.
- Traits: A curious and thoughtful nature, and an intelligent and wise mind, a mentor and trusted source of information to others
- Marketing application: The Sage (through absorbing and analyzing information) wants to help people to better understand the world
- Example Brands: Audi, Phillips.
- Goal: The Magician makes dreams come true by understanding the laws of the universe
- Fear: That their actions bring about unintended negative consequences
- Weakness: A risk-taker who can lean towards being manipulative or egotistical
- Traits: A strong sense of vision, combined with a highly charismatic personality, The Magician is both imaginative and idealistic
- Marketing application: With a strong belief in their ideas, armed with their charming nature and driven by a sense of sharing those ideas with others, The Magician helps to transform the world and inspire change.
- Example Brand: Disney.
- Goal: The creation of a community which is both prosperous and successful
- Fear: Being undermined or overthrown
- Weakness: Being too authoritative or over-controlling
- Traits: A responsible nature that easily leads. A role model who is organized and responsible
- Marketing application: The Ruler (who loves to be in control) has a clear vision for what will work in any scenario. They are able to help restore order, organization, and a sense of stability and security in the world.
- Example Brands: Rolex, Mercedes-Benz.
How to Apply Your Brand Archetype to your Brand Messaging
Now that you’re knowledgeable in the twelve archetypes, you can use them to understand what motivates and drives people to build a powerful and purposeful brand. In fact, by applying an archetype to a brand and relating that archetype in marketing tactics (such as your website), you can create an instant impression, forming immediate trust with consumers. Why? As archetypes require less cognitive processing your brand personality will feel immediately familiar to your customer. By unconsciously connecting your brand personality with your audience you can create a swell of brand loyalty, a sense of community, highly engaged consumers and customers who convert.