What are Brand Archetypes? – How to define and use your brand’s personality for better branding

September 24, 2020 / Branding

12 brand archetypes

According to the U.S Small Business Administration, there are over 30.2 million small businesses operating in the US. That’s a lot of businesses for 1 country. Imagine trying to constantly compete with others in your industry through price and attractive marketing to get a client or sale. Sharing an environment with 30 million people is certainly not going to make things easy. You are a small voice in a big crowd.

The old way of marketing your business through aggressive campaigns and price competitiveness typically works best for the larger corporations. Which is why it’s important to treat your business as a person, with thoughts, feelings and emotions that others can relate to. That’s where brand archetypes come in.

Building a genuine connection with your audience through your brand’s personality and archetype can be the single most powerful way to grow your brand consistently and authentically.

What is your brand Archetype?

Brand archetypes are a collection of 12 characters that are closely associated with your brand’s personality. Each Archetype originates from the motivation of the brand to begin with. What does your brand want to achieve? The archetype then explores the deeper emotions within each character set.

Establishing your brand in such a way can help to differentiate you in a large market using emotion rather than competitive pricing and promotions. Connecting with clients through emotion is more sought after in the service-based industry as people want to build a long-term connection with you when choosing to invest in your offer.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

1. The INNOCENT

The brands seek to stick closely to their values and create an environment where life is full of optimism. They aim to create a product or service with pure intentions and nothing less. Brand examples: Dove, The Honest Company.

2. The SAGE

They seek to show the truth and spread knowledge to empower their followers. In a world where doubt is constantly perpetuated in marketing, the SAGE values research and facts in all aspects of their business. Brand examples: TED Talks, Discovery Channel, Google.

3. The EXPLORER

Often associated with being the risk-taker, the EXPLORER is the type of brand that wants to take their audience on a journey of discovery. Learning new ways about life’s purpose and redefining the rules of the world. Not afraid to hold an individualistic view on topics and stand out from the crowd. Brand examples: The North Face, Patagonia.

4. The HERO

Transform, inspire and change lives. The HERO views themselves as the way forward into a new world of excellence. They often use powerful stories to connect with their audience and sell the idea as a brand that touches the lives of all, not just a business. Brand examples: Nike, Adidas.

5. The MAGICIAN

The dreamers that take you into a world of pure imagination. Problems in everyday life disappear as a MAGICIAN seeks to wipe your worries away and focus your attention on what could be. Turning dreams into a reality and making the impossible, possible is all they aspire to be known for. Brand examples: Disney, Dyson.

6. The REBEL

A rebellious archetype, actively thinking and living outside the box. The rules are disregarded and new ones are created for the world they see as revolutionary. The REBELS foster a strong sense of brand loyalty as a result of being so far from the norm and ultimately relating to their audience authentically. Brand examples: Harley Davidson, PETA

7. The REGULAR GUY

Contrary to some previous archetypes, the REGULAR GUY or everyman finds validation in being accepted by the masses. They fear not being accepted by others and thus create a brand for all. Brand examples: IKEA, Walmart, Ford.

8. The JESTER

Always look on the bright side of life, a wise JESTER once said. Joy, humour and laughter are the key ingredients of a successful brand within this archetype. Taking the seriousness away from traditional brands and touching the hearts of their audience to bring a smile to their face. Brand examples: Skittles, Ben & Jerry’s

9. The LOVER

Inspires deeper relationships with yourself and others through emotions of love, care and romance. Seeking to create a passionate environment to focus on the things that really matter in life. Brand examples: Chanel, Victoria’s Secret.

10. The RULER

They take rules that currently exist and refine them based on feedback and a view of continuous improvement. They are not afraid to change the rules in the interest of their audience. The overall goal is to be followed and appreciated for their efforts and forward-thinking. Brand examples: American Express, Rolls Royce, Rolex.

11. The CAREGIVER

These brands are motivated by the true and honest care they can give to their audience. They are filled with compassion and want to spread their love with everything they do. Often associated with charities, but can also be found in business models. Brand examples: Johnson & Johnson, Oxfam.

12. The CREATOR

Having a true vision for how you want the world to be is inspiring. The CREATOR takes this a step further by becoming the innovator of a new way of expression in their field. There is nothing else quite like them, and they thrive off this individuality they have spent the time to create. Brand examples: Apple, Adobe, LEGO.

How to determine your brand archetype and use it to grow a better brand

1. Understand your target audience

Start by knowing who needs your product or service. The more niche your target market is, the better you can shape your brand around them. Why? Because you can associate specific traits and emotions to their common pain points in daily life. Knowing what is important to your target audience is key to connecting with their emotions

2. Know your brand’s Personality

How you want your brand to be perceived by your target audience. This exercise can be hard to pinpoint if you are not used to defining your brand in this way. Understanding and embracing your brand personality sets you up in a great position to identify your archetype

3. Reflect your brand archetype through your content

Having your brand personality and archetype written in a business plan is great! But, the most important thing is to let people know who you are and why you exist. Let’s assume you identify as ‘The Caregiver’. You want to help others through nurturing them and providing a service of true care. How would you show this? One great way would be to create case studies that show your brand archetype in action. Make sure your logo and brand color palette reflects the traits, emotions and values of your archetype. These basic things help potential clients instantly recognise what you are about from the first time they encounter your brand.

Simply fostering the personality traits of your desired archetype can be a powerful way to connect with your ideal audience. Try using a vocabulary bank, using common words often in your copy and see how much of a shift your brand personality feels to you and your audience.