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WTF Are Brand Archetypes (?!) And How to Build A Cracking Brand Using Them

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So you’ve probably heard a bunch about needing to create a brand personality… but what exactly does that mean? Do you just pluck some personality traits out of thin air and just run with that?

Surprise: No. No you don’t.

Well, I mean, you CAN… but don’t. Don’t do that.

Building a brand with personality is a whole strategic process. Part of the process involves our friends, the Archetypes.

The archetypes we use today were developed by psychologist, Carl Jung, who believed that there are universally-understood metaphors, myths and characters within the collective human consciousness upon which we create an understanding about the world.

This theory says that these archetypes are within us right from birth. They shape our behaviour. They have no form until we apply them to a more tangible concept, and when we do that, they enhance our understanding and ability to connect with that concept. Therefore, they have an impact on our individual consciousness.


Right now, you might be thinking one of three things:

  • This is psychoanalytic trollop, I wonder what I’ll have for dinner.
  • You’re very cute, but I don’t understand what you’re saying.
  • This is incredible, and I want to know more!

Either way, stay with me.

Using Archetypes in branding is a method of taking your brand purpose and defining a set of foundational values and beliefs. This then gives you something a little more tangible to anchor to, to get to some pretty important brand elements, like:

  • How you deliver your brand promise;
  • How you execute your brand voice;
  • How your business operates;

Yep, even as broad as helping you make operational decisions about your business. The idea of this whole branding process is that it helps you make these key decisions that much easier, by giving you some guardrails so you stay consistent and on track to meet your objectives.

It really does all come back to how you make a dollar at the end of the day.


There are 12 core archetypes:

The Innocent Archetype


The Regular Guy / Girl Archetype

The Caregiver Archetype


The Creator Archetype


The Hero Archetype


The Outlaw Archetype


The Magician Archetype


The Ruler Archetype


The Lover Archetype


The Sage Archetype


The Jester Archetype


The Explorer Archetype


I’ve seen the greatest of sceptics’ eyes light up once I explain each of the 12 archetypes and which well-known brands embody their respective traits and attributes. There’s this beautiful moment of understanding when it all just clicks, and then the possibilities for your brand suddenly become crystal clear.

It works at the consumer end too.

A really well-defined and executed brand personality connects with people in an unconscious way first. It allows the human side of a brand to remain and not get lost in the sea of data and metrics. It allows us as brands to access a more primal and instinctive part of the brain. And with this connection comes action (at its best, engagement with your brand that results in profit for your business). It creates behaviour change.

That’s that individual consciousness we were talking about.

So how do YOU use this in creating your brand? Identify which of the Archetypes your BRAND is most closely aligned to. Work this out by writing down your beliefs and values. Then you’ll be able to identify your core personality traits for your brand. Not sure how to do this? That’s what I’m here for. 

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Finding your brand archetype is one piece of a bigger puzzle. A puzzle I’ve broken down into a DIY brand roadmap for overwhelmed solopreneurs to gain clarity, find your purpose and stop winging it.

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After reading about Brand Archetypes (many years ago), I was struggling to implement the knowledge into my brand practice. As a strategic designer, I was desperate to use it as a tool, yet something was ‘missing’ that was holding me back from introducing it to my clients. Enter this kit! It was what I needed to be able to articulate archetypes in a clear, simple way. I’ve now run two workshops with my new ‘tools’ and my clients are raving about the process. Thank you A Brand is Not a Logo!






WTF Are Brand Archetypes (?!) And How to Build A Cracking Brand Using Them

  1. Clare Puki (née Sanders) says:

    Great read Melissa! I’ve already come back to it three times since you posted it. ?
    But I do have a question – what do you do if your brand falls smack bang in the middle of two (or three) archetypes? For instance, Nike is sitting in the Hero camp, but could arguably fall under Magician or Creator too. How do you “narrow down” your brand without cutting out something crucial?

  2. Melissa this is amazing work. Thank you so much for sharing and empowering your followers with this wisdom.

    I haven’t finished reading it because I feel I need to make notes! Will definitely come back to this.

    Thanks again, you are making an impact.

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