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Bring your brand to life with 12 brand archetypes

Sometimes, all you need is one interaction with a brand, and you can fall in love with their products. Just like a symphony has a leitmotif that can resonate with you, spark certain feelings and make you want to come back for more, so can brands.

You may feel as if the brand is made just for you. It can help you feel and identify as the dream version of the self you aspire to be. This isn’t magic. This is a work of carefully structured brand archetype.

Without becoming Victor Frankenstein, how can we bring your brand to life and make it seem “human”?


What are brand archetypes?

The concept of archetypes was introduced in 1919 by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung as a way to characterise people and their behaviour. At their core, archetypes are figures consisting of recognizable behaviour patterns and traits.

Brand archetypes work well because we are used to viewing the world through archetypes since childhood. All characters in films, cartoons, books, TV shows, and even games, are based on these archetypes. Therefore, when we use archetypes in branding, we create products that resonate with the target audience on a subconscious level.

Why do we need brand archetypes?

Brand archetypes help to communicate your positioning strategy to your audience. In simple words, brand archetypes combine all the chaos behind your brand and give it a clear shape. They breathe life into your business and make it seem human. When your audience sees your brand as a human, they can understand it on a subconscious level.

Brand archetypes help to break through the clutter of daily communications and identify with your target audience instantly.

Through your archetype, your audience will know almost instantly who you are, what they can expect of you and if they are interested in what you can offer them. In the world where you have milliseconds to make an impression and attract attention, the faster you can help your target audience to identify with you, the higher is the chance that they will notice you.

For some brands, their archetype becomes a part of identity expression for its users. We will discuss this in more detail when we go over how you should choose your archetype.

12 brand archetypes

There are a total of 12 brand archetypes. Each archetype has their own characteristics and aspirations.

According to the book by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, the 12 archetypes can be divided into 4 categories based on their aspirations.

Wheel with 12 brand archetypes separated into 4 categories - created by Marketing Orchestra
12 Brand archetypes separated into 4 categories
Exploring spirituality (Freedom-seekers)

They are aspiring for a utopia, a paradise. They want to know more about themselves and others, and connect with Earth.

Archetypes in this category: Innocent, Sage, Explorer.

1. Innocent

Main characteristics: honest, pure, happy.

The Innocent archetype strives to make everyone happy. They are honest and simple. Innocent brands don’t use aggressive or deceitful marketing. They are open and transparent. These brands help their audience feel harmonious and pure.

Best for products and services that:

  • provide the feeling of kindness, happiness and are carefree
  • oriented towards families and children
  • use natural ingredients and are pure

How to use Innocent archetype: Adopt an optimistic and natural tone of voice. Rely on emotional story-telling, avoid conflicts, and don’t touch sensitive topics. Act as natural as possible and be honest.

This archetype is like: Pooh Bear and Piglet. They embody the Innocent archetype with their childlike innocence, simplicity, and love of simple pleasures.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Innocent
Innocent brand archetype key points
2. Sage

Main characteristics: wisdom, curiosity, expertise.

The Sage approaches all problems from the rational perspective. They explain and educate, guiding their audience to freedom through knowledge. These brands avoid misinformation and ignorance, and position themselves as experts in their field. They help their audiences navigate through complex issues.

Best for products and services that:

  • provide education, expertise, knowledge, skills
  • help making decisions
  • broadens view of the world

How to use Sage archetype: Make your audience think. Sage brands publish educational content based on scientific and proven information. They position themselves as experts in the field and provide educational discussions and focus on benefits.

This archetype is like: Professor Owl from Disney or Yoda from Star Wars. They embody the Sage archetype with the emphasis on education, knowledge, and wisdom.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Sage
Sage brand archetype key points
3. Explorer

Main characteristics: adventurous, individualistic, free.

The Explorer archetype strives for adventures, discovery and connection with nature. They like uncertainty and risk, and hate boredom and routine. Explorer brands become guides to the world of adventures and vibrant experiences. They provide thrill and unforgettable experience to their audiences, feelings of freedom and exploration.

Best for products and services that:

  • help people understand themselves
  • inspire to be themselves
  • provide adventurous experiences

How to use Explorer archetype: Tell your audience how they can have new experiences and emotions. Inspire them to be different, try something new. Explain how to overcome fear and gain confidence. Tell how everyone can experience new adventures with your products.

This archetype is like: Dora the Explorer and Indiana Jones. They embody the Explorer archetype through love of discovery, adventurous spirit, and curiosity.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Explorer
Indiana Jones + key points of Innocent
Leaving legacy (Change-makers)

Archetypes in this category: Outlaw, Magician, Hero.

Their aspiration is to leave a mark on the world and make an impact. They want to be meaningful and be remembered.

4. Outlaw (Rebel)

Main characteristics: independent, rebellious, unpredictable.

The Outlaw is a nonconformist that seeks to break the rules. They value freedom and lack of boundaries. They aspire to liberation and being true to themselves. Outlaw brands can be aggressive in their communication to show their energy. They free their audience from taboos and show that they share their “dark side”.

Best for products and services that:

  • go against popular standards and beliefs
  • support audiences that feel like “outsiders”
  • target very niche markets that don’t conform to social rules

How to use Outlaw archetype: Go against the stream, surprise your audience and break boundaries. Discuss provoking subjects that resonate with your target audience. Talk about negatives of habitual life, joke about existing standards, making them absurd.

This archetype is like: Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean or Robin Hood. They embody the Outlaw archetype through their rule-breaking and mischievous nature that challenges the status-quo.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Outlaw
Outlaw brand archetype key points
5. Magician

Main characteristics: visionary, transformative, magical.

The Magician is curious about the world and how it can be made better. This archetype aspires to provide transformation and acts as catalyst for fast changes. Magicians make dreams come true and believe that everything is possible. Such brands transform reality and provide “magical” experiences.

Best for products and services that:

  • bring quick changes to people’s lives
  • help change perspective or opinions
  • use new technologies or provide magical experiences

How to use Magician archetype: Explain how you can quickly change their lives with your products. Highlight the “magical” qualities of your products and show your expertise. Create shows and magical experiences in your communications.

This archetype is like: Gandalf from Lord of the Rings Genie from Aladdin. They embody the Magician archetype through the themes of magic, transformation, and wonder.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Magician
Magician brand archetype key points
6. Hero

Main characteristics: brave, daring, challenging.

The Hero wants to make the world a better place and find a way out of any situation. They are afraid of downfalls and incompetence. They sacrifice old beliefs in the attempt to make themselves better. Hero brands challenge their audience to fight for the better and self-improvement.

Best for products and services that:

  • help to become stronger and better version of themselves
  • bring changes through overcoming challenges
  • help to carry out difficult and challenging tasks

How to use Hero archetype: Show challenges and difficulties that the audience can overcome by using your products. Talk about ambitious goals that they aspire to. Show them how they can improve their lives.

This archetype is like: Superheroes, such as Superman or Wonder Woman. They embody the Hero archetype through courage, strength, and determination.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Hero
Hero brand archetype key points
Connecting to others (Social-beings)

Archetypes in this category: Lover, Jester, Everyman.

They aspire to have meaningful relationships with people. They want to be around people and crave for belonging.

7. Lover

Main characteristics: sensual, affectionate, intimate.

The Lover enjoys life through all their senses. They aspire to create relationships and strong emotional connections with the audience through the senses, emphasizing passion, intimacy, and pleasure. These brands make their audience feel unique and special.

Best for products and services that:

  • associate with aesthetics and sophistication
  • help with relationships
  • promise pleasure or helps with person’s physical looks

How to use Lover archetype: Try to engage all 5 senses of your audience. Not only in physical locations, but also in online communications. Describe aromas, touch sensations, etc. Speak to your audience as if you’re flirting with them, and use memorable, pleasing aesthetics.

This archetype is like: Ana from Frozen, and Moulin Rouge. They embody the Lover archetype through the transformative power of love, connection and intimacy, as well as highlighting the creative expression that comes from passion.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Lover
Moulin Rouge + key points of Innocent
8. Jester

Main characteristics: funny, playful, entertaining.

The Jester archetype is all about living life in the moment and enjoying it. They aspire to have fun and entertain everyone. Avoiding any negativity, they cheer everyone up. They are impulsive with unusual thoughts and love to be creative.

Best for products and services that:

  • provide entertainment
  • make people feel young in their hearts
  • help to have fun

How to use Jester archetype: Be creative, joke around, stay positive. Give ordinary things and experiences a fun perspective. Everything that you do has to make your audience smile.

This archetype is like: Bugs Bunny and the Minions from Despicable Me. They embody the Jester archetype through their playful, humorous personalities.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Jester
Jester brand archetype key points
9. Everyman

Main characteristics: approachable, modest, authentic, down-to-earth.

The Everyman shows the positive side of an ordinary person and connects with the audience through authenticity and relatability. These brands focus on connection and belonging, create friendly and helpful environment and avoid looking prestigious. They try to become friends with their audience.

Best for products and services that:

  • appeal to everyday people
  • promote the values of kindness, loyalty, authenticity
  • offer practical solutions

How to use Everyman archetype: Share the same values as your audience, and show that you accept them as they are. Choose topics and interests that your audience relates to. If your audience wears white t-shirts, you should also wear white t-shirts.

This archetype is like: SpongeBob SquarePants and Mickey Mouse. They embody the Everyman archetype through their relatable, down-to-earth personalities.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Everyman
Everyman brand archetype key points
Providing structure (Order-creators)

Archetypes in this category: Caregiver, Ruler, Creator.

They aspire to create structure in the world and build something new, in their own name or in the name of others.

10. Caregiver

Main characteristics: compassionate, nurturing, selfless.

The Caregiver archetype aspires to surround people with warmth, care, attention. They support and protect. Caregiver brands create an understanding environment and let their audience feel safe. They serve their audience to help them overcome issues of this world.

Best for products and services that:

  • help to take care
  • offer safety and care for others
  • relate to guidance, medical help and non-profit work

How to use Caregiver archetype: Paying attention to your audience, clients and their needs is the most important for such brands. They need to have exceptional customer service available 24/7. Adopt a personalized approach to each client. Through your communication, make your audience feel special and their needs heard. Use a warm and caring tone of voice.

This archetype is like: Mufasa from Lion King and Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. They embody the Caregiver archetype through their nurturing, compassionate nature.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Caregiver
Caregiver brand archetype key points
11. Ruler

Main characteristics: powerful, successful, authoritative, in control.

The Ruler archetype helps their audience feel in control of their live or situations. Such brands help their audience feel exclusive and superior. They show respect to their audience and help them feel authoritative.

Best for products and services that:

  • relate to status and power
  • offer ways to make money
  • help with business life

How to use Ruler archetype: Portray the success and power your audience can achieve by using your product. Communicate in a respectful and official manner, as if your audience are your business partners. Create the image of exclusivity and superiority.

This archetype is like: Queen Elsa from Frozen and Don Corleone from Godfather. They embody the Ruler archetype through their authoritative, powerful personalities.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Ruler
Ruler brand archetype key points
12. Creator

Main characteristics: originality, creativity, innovation.

The Creator archetype aspires to creativity and originality. They innovate and constantly give new form to old and mundane things. They value self-expression and encourage everyone to bring their dreams to life. Tey focus on creating an outcome and can often go against a common belief.

Best for products and services that:

  • help with creativity
  • relate to feeling unique
  • are different from mass-market

How to use Creator archetype: Create innovative, non-standard solutions. Let your audience take part in product creations, provide customization options. In your communications talk about new ideas, ask your audience for new features and opinions.

This archetype is like: Tony Stark and Willy Wonka. They embody the Creator archetype through their visionary, eccentric and innovative personalities.

Marketing Orchestra 12 brand archetypes Creator
Creator brand archetype key points

How to choose your archetype

Brand archetype’s purpose is twofold:

  • it organizes the chaos of your brand’s internal structure
  • it helps your audience understand who you are on a subconscious level

The archetype you choose will be the glue that holds your internal structure together with your audience. If you choose a glue that doesn’t work with your internal structure or doesn’t resonate with your audience, your connection is going to fall apart.

So to understand how you should choose an archetype, you have to look at both internal and external factors.

Step 1: Find an archetype that represents your business

The first step in choosing your archetype is understanding which archetype is the closest to your business. Your archetype has to explain to your audience who you are. You can’t simply choose an archetype that you like and hope that it fits.

Your internal structure and business drive will dictate what your archetype can be.

To determine your brand’s archetype, find out what is your main drive by answering the following questions:

  1. What is your vision?
  2. What are your business goals?
  3. What is the purpose behind creating your business in the first place?
  4. What is the most important for you in your business?

Once you answer those questions for your own brand, you can select all archetypes that fit it. If your brand is you, then answer those questions about yourself and choose which archetypes represent your professional personality.

For example.

Consider that you are producing and selling sustainable sports clothes. 

  1. Your vision is to help protect the environment and help people achieve their sporting goals.
  2. Your business goal is to establish a well-known brand among highly ambitious and motivated, active people.
  3. You created this business because you are angry that most brands are just greenwashing their customers, and there are very few companies that create truly sustainable sporting clothes.
  4. The most important for you is to be honest and transparent.

By answering these questions, we can start narrowing down which archetypes can fit this brand. They are: outlaw, hero, caregiver and innocent.

Step 2: Find an archetype that represents your audience

Next, you need to repeat the same process for your audience. Identify your target audience and their personas.

Imagine your perfect client, then answer the following questions:

  1. What is their motivation to look for a business with your products or services?
  2. How do they want to feel when they use your product or service?
  3. Do they use your products or services as a form of self-expression?
  4. If yes, what is that self-expression?

You create your brand in order to serve someone. Instead of putting in the effort to create a certain desire in their heads, it is better to align with an already existing desire and show how you fit into that.

That’s where your archetype will help you find and connect with the audience that is the most likely to become your clients. Answering these three questions will help you determine the archetype of your audience in relation to your brand.

Let's continue our example.

So your brand is producing sustainable sports wear. In addition, you decided that you want to focus on men and women that use clothes as an empowering factor that gives them motivation and energy to go the extra mile.

  1. They wish to find a truly sustainable active wear that is functionally good and gives them power through its designs.
  2. They want to avoid feeling guilty for buying “wasteful” clothes, they also want to feel energized.
  3. Yes, for internal alignment with the better version of themselves, and to show their aspirations to others.
  4. They want to align with their internal self that wants to live without harming the environment, as well as express their high energy levels to others.

When we answer these questions, we can see that outlaw, hero and ruler archetypes will describe this audience the best.

Step 3: Combine your and your audience's archetypes

After you determined which archetypes represent your brand and your audience, you need to find a balanced way to combine them.

You don’t have to limit yourself with only one archetype. You can combine a few. To avoid mixing up and diluting the core expression of your brand, we recommend to use not more than 3 archetypes.

Your archetypes should be:

  • 60% – the core archetype that expresses your business
  • 30% – supporting archetype that expresses your audience
  • 10% – additional archetype that can spice up your brand and connect with your audience

This formula is just a suggestion. If your business archetype represents fully your audience archetype, then you can use only one or just two archetypes.

After you successfully determine your archetype, it’s time to put this to a use and create brand identity and strategy that will reflect it to ensure your business’ success. This includes determining your logo, visual identity, tone of voice, brand metaphor, as well as many other aspects of branding and marketing.

If you need help with determining your archetype or creating your brand strategy and identity, we are more than happy to work with you on these tasks. To tell you a secret, it is one of our favourite jobs 😉

Archetypes from our example.

We’ve determined that the archetypes that represent your business are Outlaw, Hero, Caregiver and Innocent. The archetypes that represent your audience are Outlaw, Hero and Ruler.

This makes it quite an easy choice. The way we can choose a core archetype will depend on our positioning. Do we want to be more of an Outlaw, that rebel against fast fashion, or do we want to be Heroes that let our audience feel that they are doing something good?

If our audience is young, a Rebel might be a better choice. However, let’s say we target men and women from 25 to 45 years old. In this case, a Hero archetype can fit better. So we are going to set Hero as our main archetype, and Rebel as a supporting archetype.

Now we still have a choice between Caregiver, Innocent and Ruler as a last option to make our brand more unique.

As we know that apart from being energized, our audience also wants to feel good. In addition, you care a lot about honesty and being transparent. So, adding a bit of Innocent to the mix can help express your honesty and focus on being truthful. On the other hand, if you want to focus on showing your care for the planet, a Caregiver can be a good choice as well.

Choosing the last archetype will help you guide that extra focus that you want to communicate to your audience. In this example, we will go with Innocent, to focus on honesty and transparency of the company and let our audience know that we are not greenwashing them.

In this way, we end up with the following mix:

  • 60% Hero
  • 30% Rebel
  • 10% Innocent

This archetype mix will help your target audience identify with your brand and make them relate to it instantly. It will also simplify greatly your process of creating your brand strategy and identity. It will assist in all your marketing efforts and communications.

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