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

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.

via GIPHY

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 brand archetypes:

The Innocent Archetype

 

Brand Archetype profile - the Innocent Archetype
The Innocent – Brand Archetype

The Caregiver Archetype

The Caregiver – Brand Archetype

The Hero Archetype

The Hero Brand Archetype
The Hero – Brand Archetype

The Everyperson Archetype

The Everyperson / Regular Guy / Everyman brand archetype
The Everyperson / Regular Guy / Everyman – Brand Archetype

The Outlaw / The Rebel Archetype

The Outlaw / The Rebel Brand Archetype
The Outlaw / The Rebel – Brand Archetype

The Magician Archetype

The Magician brand archetype
The Magician – Brand Archetype

The Creator Archetype

The Creator – Brand Archetype

The Sage Archetype

The Sage – Brand Archetype

The Jester Archetype

The Jester - Brand Archetype
The Jester – Brand Archetype

The Explorer Archetype

The Explorer - Brand Archetype
The Explorer – Brand Archetype

The Ruler Archetype

The Ruler - Brand Archetype
The Ruler – Brand Archetype

The Lover Archetype

The Lover - Brand Archetype
The Lover – Brand 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. 

You might also like this article on how Archetypes and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs intersect.

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