12 Archetypes Behind the World’s Biggest Brands
Ever looked at a product, campaign, or an entire company then went — “Hey, they know me so well!”
That’s because you identify with their brand archetypes.
Like exploring the great outdoors? Then you’re drawn to adventurous brands like Timberland. Want new social, academic or political ideas? You might already be a Ted Talks subscriber.
A brand archetype helps brands — like yours — create better stories. It's your message to the world. And is what connects you with your target audience.
What are “Archetypes”, anyway?
Archetypes are model images of a person or role. You can find them in literature, film, and television shows.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung first used these archetypes in psychology. Today, Jungian archetypes are in marketing, anthropology, and other fields.
If want to build a stronger brand, find out which brand archetype you most identify with below.
12 Common Brand Archetypes — Where Does Your Brand Fit?
1. The Innocent
The Innocent archetype is honest and optimistic. They’re all about bringing happiness to customers. Some brands adapt to this by tying their product to a sense of nostalgia.
A classic example is Dove.
The brand aims to make women feel confident by using beauty products. Their recent #ShowUs campaign celebrates women in media and advertising. The result is a gallery of women who shatter stereotypes and redefine the meaning of beauty.
2. The Sage
Brands with the Sage archetype want to be the go-to person for questions. They portray themselves as knowledgeable and wise. They provide information and insight to help others cope with their challenges.
Google fits the Sage archetype to a T. They're on a mission to organise information and make it accessible to all. Whether it’s from Google Search, Translate, or Maps, you get a load of information at your fingertips.
3. The Explorer
Explorer brand archetypes emphasize freedom and play on consumers’ desires for new adventures. They want you to go out and hop in on the journey that you always wanted, whether you’re going someplace new or unknown.
Automobile manufacturer Toyota represents this archetype. The brand encourages customers to “Experience the joy of movement anywhere.” with cars designed to be safe and reliable.
4. The Outlaw
If there are rigid rules in place, don’t expect the Outlaw type to follow them. These brands take pride in going against the norm and carving their own path. They don’t follow trends; they make them instead.
Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson is an apt example of this profile. They offer innovative motorcycles with distinct sounds. And they make sure to give customers the freedom to personalise each bike.
Harley-Davidson is passionate about sharing the thrill of the open road. Through their Freedom Stories campaign, customers share stories of their Harley bikes.
5. The Magician
Real-life magicians wow the crowd by making the impossible seem possible. In the same way, Magician brand archetypes take wild ideas and turn them into reality.
With their superb imagination, these brands transform ordinary products into the extraordinary.
Disney fits the Magician archetype well. For one, they released films like “Magician Mickey” and “Fantasia”. Their Disney parks literally exude magic. They inspire visitors to get in touch with their inner child, no matter what their age.
6. The Hero
Hero archetypes bank on an image of strength and confidence. They show mastery in their field and strive to show everyone that they’re the best. Whenever there are problems, they’re always up to the challenge of solving them..
Duracell shows their competitive and aggressive trait characteristic of the Hero archetype. After all, the brand goes by the tagline, "The Number One Trusted Battery Brand."
Duracell offers batteries with long-lasting power and high performance. They promise to beat other battery brands for up to 10 times longer.
7. The Lover
Lover brands are all about celebrating life and relationships through sensual pleasure.
They aim to create rich experiences for their customers through pleasing designs, tempting foods, or heady scents. These brands aim to make people attractive, which is why a lot of them are beauty and luxury companies.
TWG Tea Company — a global luxury tea brand — aims to deliver tea for everyone and every occasion. Answer two simple questions and you even get a curated list of their exclusive tea blends that’ll best suit your palate.
TWG is the perfect Lover archetype. It presents its wide selection of products through detailed descriptions that slyly evoke the senses. You’ll want to have that afternoon tea, pronto.
8. The Jester
If you're all about giving customers a good time, the Jester archetype is for you. Jester brands provide light-hearted entertainment.
With their carefree, playful attitude, Jester brands engage with their customers with humour. It's a great fit for brands that steer clear from a serious personality.
A look at Skittles’ different iterations of its Taste the Rainbow ads reveals the brand’s strong Jester profile.
Imagine contracting Skittles-pox, a fictional rainbow-coloured chicken pox. Or, an arm-wrestling match to settle who gets the last piece of Skittles. You'll find all these in their advertisements.
9. The Everyman
Everyman or Regular Guy archetypes blend in the crowd instead of standing out.
Everyman brands bank on their wholesome image. They use their guy-next-door appeal in marketing products to their audience. They don’t claim superiority. Rather, they regard themselves on equal footing with their consumers.
Because of this, they give off a down-to-earth and people-oriented vibe.
Gap uses the Everyman archetype to sell staple pieces that can fit in anyone’s wardrobe.
The brand fosters a sense of community in their recent campaign called It’s Our Denim Now: Anthem (60s). In their ad, the lyrics uses “we” and “us,” and ends with the main message of “moving together” in Gap jeans.
A fun trivia that we can all relate to: Gap's founder built the company because he could not find jeans that fit.
10. The Caregiver
Caregiver brands are like mothers. They give you a nurturing, supportive environment and help you feel at ease.
Caregiver brands exude compassion and generosity. They use communication strategies that pull at your heartstrings.
You'll usually see this archetype in personal care brands and public services. This includes the education, healthcare, and transport sectors.
Grab, the leading ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia, represents the Caregiver archetype well.
It aims for a “safer everyday” for its customers and partners. This customer-oriented service strives to protect customers in every step of the way — whether they’re going somewhere, ordering in, or paying for a meal.
11. The Ruler
An air of power and authority surrounds brands with the Ruler archetype.
Ruler brands are the leaders of the pack. They're confident in handling responsibility and introducing order.
Ruler advertising emphasises their sleek, polished role model image. Because of this, such brands are often associated with wealth and success.
With its intelligent, modern design, a Mercedes-Benz car is the ultimate status symbol. In the Mercedes-Benz King of the City ad, the brand focuses on the alpha male image. The lion represents the modern-day entrepreneur who finds relief driving his S-Class after a long, tiring day.
12. The Creator
Creator brands thrive in an environment where they're able to conceptualize and execute.
They’re not content with mediocre results; they strive for perfection. As visionaries, they’re not afraid to take risks to carry their ideas to fruition.
Tech giant Apple builds products that focuses on the user experience. Steve Jobs, a tireless perfectionist, paid attention to every small detail. In fact, the first Macintosh computers took three years to develop.
Still unsure what your brand archetype is? First, figure out what you want your customers to feel. Knowing your archetype is only one part of the equation. You still have to adopt the right mix. Stand by your principles to make your brand more relatable — like it's an actual living person.
After taking the initial step of knowing your brand archetype, you’re well on your way to forging a stronger brand identity.