Brand Archetypes: Bringing Your Brand to Life

Brand Archetypes: Bringing Your Brand to Life

If your brand were a person, who would it be? 

There’s no such thing as an emotionless brand. Every brand has a unique personality that’s made up of intrinsic attributes, values, and purpose. Whether you attract or repel certain people depends on the personality of your brand, colors, tone of voice, and simply the way you do business. The question is: is your brand’s personality strategically crafted and intentionally expressed?

Brand Archetypes are a fantastic tool for creating clarity and alignment around your brand’s personality and persona. 

“An archetype is a universally familiar character or situation that transcends time, place, culture, gender and age. It represents an eternal truth.” -Jon Howard-Spink

Very simply, archetypes can facilitate the understanding of a brand and why it attracts certain customers. 

“Archetypes are strange attractors of consciousness. You attract customers when your brand is congruent with an archetype that is either dominant or emerging in their consciousness. 

An archetypal approach to branding will help humanize the process of being in business in general, and branding in particular, by enabling greater humanity. 

Adopting an archetype approach to your brand identity will:

  • Clarify your purpose
  • Express your personality
  • Solidify your position 
  • Inform your voice and visuals

Archetypes empower emotional experiences, representing a spectrum of attributes and character traits that have the potential to manifest themselves both positively and negatively. They aren’t meant to pigeon-hole brands or make them narrow-minded, but rather serve as a compass for decisions at the brand strategy and brand expression levels. 

There are 12 primary archetypes, with each archetype having a supporting cast of supplemental archetypes that can help add depth and distinction when defining your brand. They are:

  1. Hero
  2. Explorer
  3. Caregiver
  4. Rebel
  5. Jester
  6. Sage
  7. Creator
  8. Lover
  9. Magician
  10. Sovereign
  11. Citizen
  12. Innocent

A more in-depth look at each:

1. Hero

A Hero is someone who must successfully overcome extraordinary odds to save, often including acts of strength, courage, and self-sacrifice to triumph or adversity.

Traits: 

  • Courage + Redemption + Strength + Sacrifice + Stamina + Transformation

Archetype Family:

  • Athlete + LiberatorRescuer + Warrior

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Duracell + US Army + Nike

2. Explorer

An Explorer is someone who craves new experiences, free from anyone or anything that might hold them back. They’re driven by pushing boundaries and exploring the unknown, often with a high degree of autonomy and risk.

Traits: 

  • Independence + Bravery + Freedom + Self-sufficiency + Nonconformity

Archetype Family:

  • Adventurer + GeneralistPioneer + Seeker

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Jeep + Red Bull + North Face

3. Caregiver

A Caregiver is someone who is marked by unselfishness and a devotion to nurture and care for others. They’re motivated by service, generosity, friendship, optimism and generally live life with an open heart.

Traits: 

  • Altruism + Compassion + Patience + Empathy

Archetype Family:

  • Angel + GuardianHealer + Samaritan

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Johnson & Johnson + State Farm + Volvo

4. Rebel

A Rebel is a force to be reckoned with, critical to social change and fresh perspectives. Not afraid to break a rule, they’re ready to challenge the status quo and make a bold move.

Traits: 

  • Risk-taking + Progressive + Provocative + Brave + Experimentation + Leadership

Archetype Family:

  • Activist + GamblerMaverick + Reformer

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Harley Davidson + Virgin + Diesel + Levi Jeans

5. Jester

A Jester is on a mission to live in the moment and lighten the world in surprising ways. They are often exuberant and intelligent, they thrive on originality and see life as a playground of opportunity.

Traits: 

  • Humor + Originality + Social Skills + Irreverence + Awareness

Archetype Family:

  • Clown + EntertainerProvocateur + Shapeshifter

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Old Spice + Skittles + Bud Light + Geico

6. Sage

A Sage is motivated by independence, cognitive fulfillment, and truth. They’re focused rational thinking and are often pragmatic skeptics.

Traits: 

  • Wisdom + Clarity + Prudence + Researcher + Decision maker

Archetype Family:

  • Detective + MentorShaman + Translator

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • PBS, National Geographic + The Economist + Audi

7. Creator

A Creator has a passionate need for self-expression and to be a cultural pioneer. They’re imaginative and reflective with a unique point of view. 

Traits: 

  • Imagination + Nonlinear thought + Nonconformity + Developed aesthetic 

Archetype Family:

  • Artist + Entrepreneur + Storyteller + Visionary

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Lego + Apple

8. Lover

A Lover possesses an unbridled appreciation for beauty and closeness. They’re motivated to nurture, create intimacy and are often fueled by passion, devotion, and blissful unity. 

Traits: 

  • Vitality + Faithfulness + Sensuality + Appreciation

Archetype Family:

  • Companion + Hedonist + Matchmaker + Romantic

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Victoria’s Secret + Alpha Romeo + Channel + Cadbury

9. Magician

A Magician is dynamic, clever and able to view the world through many different lenses. Driven by the hidden workings of the world, they thrive manifesting ideas into reality outside the ordinary rules of life.

Traits: 

  • Dreamer + Perception + Intuition + Charisma + Cleverness

Archetype Family:

  • Alchemist + Engineer + Innovator + Scientist

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Disney +  Lululemon + Axe

10. Sovereign

A Sovereign, sometimes called Ruler, is a model of proper behavior while exuding an aura of order, organization, and royalty. Always aware of status, they are controlled, watchful and cautious with words and deeds.

Traits: 

  • Tradition + Benevolence + Nobility + Assumed Authority + Stability

Archetype Family:

  • Ambassador + Judge + Patriarch + Ruler

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Mercedes Benz + American Express + Rolex

11. Citizen

A Citizen, sometimes referred to as Everyman, is driven by integrity and responsibility to a community. They prefer being a peer rather than a ruler and are much more driven by positive, collective values than profit or individual gain. 

Traits: 

  • Stewardship + Altruism + Respect + Accountability + Fairness

Archetype Family:

  • Advocate + Everyman + Networker + Servant

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Home Depot + Folgers + Volkswagon

12. Innocent

An Innocent is pure and virtuous, a glass-half-full type of person. Free from corruption, they embody a sense of oneness and renewal, striving for the simplicity of peace and acceptance. 

Traits: 

  • Wonder + Purity + Trust + Spontaneity + Wholesomeness

Archetype Family:

  • Child + Dreamer + Idealist + Muse

Examples of brands who are this archetype: 

  • Coca Cola + McDonald’s + Orville Redenbacher + Dove

 

Archetypes are a powerful tool that can help you craft a human persona for your brand that is rich, varied, consistent and full of authentic personality that shines through in different ways in different contexts.

In the book “The Hero and The Outlaw”, an analysis uncovered that brands with “tightly defined” archetypal identities rose in value by 97% more over six years as compared to “confused brands” or brands with characteristics from many different archetypes.

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to choosing an archetype to rally around — only what’s most authentic to the essence of your brand. You can’t fake personality. But you can own what’s truly yours.

“The earlier on in your company’s journey that you can uncover your brand’s true identity – the character your brand is meant to live out – the sooner your team can begin living it and leaving a lasting impression in your audience’s minds.” – Sunny Bonnell

Focused brands are impactful brands. Humans are emotional and drawn to personalities they are alike. Is your brand harnessing the power of archetypes? If not, check out our brand workshops and we can help you uncover and define your brand’s true personality. 

 


 

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About WonderWild

We are a brand identity + design studio that helps brands level-up through emotionally compelling design. Want to talk about your brand? I’d love to hear if we can help you create meaningful differentiation: seth@wonderwild.co.