Updated: Feb 2
What are Brand Archetypes and how can you use them to create a brand that reflects you and attracts customers.
I should warn you now, we’re about to go down a rabbit hole of psychological-marketing-nerdiness. I am going to be your personal Morpheus. It’s time to take the red pill, Neo.
We’ll start off with the term Brand Archetypes, which is the personification of a brand. It’s how you, as a business, connect emotionally and behaviorally with your audience. Choosing the archetype that fits you, or your business, will help you build out your brand in a way that makes it easier to reach the ones you want and effectively connect with them.
Small or new businesses are a bit late to the game when it comes to branding. Larger, more established companies have been pouring money into their marketing plans and establishing their position for years. So, as a newcomer, you will find it hard to make your voice heard amongst the many voices that are already out there. So how do you make your voice heard? By leveraging your brand archetype.
Discovering your brand archetype is a great way to help you find your voice and get connections started with your audience. Because you’ll be utilizing the correct personality, tone of voice, and imagery (guided by your archetype) you’ll be able to zero in on clients that are already primed for your services.
Why Are Brand Archetypes So Effective
Archetypes have been around for centuries and storytellers have been plugging into them since Plato in 348 B.C. It was psychologist Carl Jung who coined the term “archetype” for the collective unconscious that we all take part in. We use emotions and experiences to influence our patterns of behavior. Now, don’t mistake that for “stereotype”. A stereotype is rooted in social and culture-specific norms that are overly simplified. An archetype is rooted in truths that are distinctive and resonate positively.
We use emotions and experiences to influence our patterns of behavior.
Archetypes are cognitively identifiable, meaning that we see the behavior and have an instinctive understanding of it. It feels familiar to us. And because we recognize it, we connect with it much quicker and deeper than something less familiar.
This makes choosing the right Brand Archetype an extremely useful tool when defining your brand position. It tells you how to connect with your audience in an effective and authentic way without hoodwinking them. You’re not trying to be something you’re not because, effectively, your brand archetype is YOU!
What Are The Twelve Archetypes
Chances are, you have already seen these archetypes in use. I mentioned earlier that storytellers have been at it for centuries. Basing a character on an archetype makes the character relatable, inspiring, or heroic. Think of any movie you’ve seen or story you’ve read, chances are you’ll be able to make a connection as you read through this list.
Being a Sage makes you the keeper of knowledge and wisdom. You study the world and embrace knowledge which you then freely give. The Sage is forever learning and wants to help others learn. You prefer to set people on the right path rather than walk it yourself.
The Hero represents a motivation to exhibit their strength and skills. They are determined and, occasionally, single-minded in their attempts to win. They show extreme courage and determination and manage to conquer challenges head-on. A Hero works to correct failures and is continually trying to prove their worth.
A Jester is a jokester. They are the class clown and love to be center stage. They see it as their duty to make sure everyone is having a good time. Perpetual optimists, Jesters are young at heart and keep things light and playful. The Jester is usually the brand trying to make the buyer laugh, versus the buyer identifying as a Jester.
The Explorer gets to be exciting, daring, and fearless as they drive forward into the unknown. Conformity and comfort are not part of this Archetypes dialog. The more rugged and rough the situation, the more adventurous they become. The Explorer is a leader and they revel in the journey.
Can’t we all just get along? This would be the key feeling of the Everyman. The Everyman wants to belong and wants to get along. They are friendly and trustworthy but it’s a struggle for them to stand out in a crowd. They tend to blend in with everybody because they want to be like everybody. The Everyman is positive and upbeat. This strategy is better when coupled with another archetype to help you connect in a memorably.
The Outlaw is a revolutionary. They revel in their desire to change the world but they also thrive for the chaos caused by the change. They show a general disdain for rules and conformity. Generally a good person, they are partly driven by anger at the way things are and they hanker for a good fight.
Selfless, reassuring, warm, and caring are just a few key terms when describing the Caregiver. These people are driven by the desire to protect and care for others to make the world a better place. The Caregiver is both reactive and proactive. The brand that reflects the Caregiver can come across as aspirational, but can also take it a step too far and appear arrogant or pretentious.
Someone who is optimistic, honest, and humble could fit into the Innocent Archetype. They want everyone to be happy, prosperous and look at the world through a positive lens. Inner beauty and kindness are key takeaways for the Innocent. Sometimes called “naive” the Innocent tries to see the best in everyone and is considered trustworthy.
The Lover is the epitome of desire. It makes you think of luxury, intimacy, sensuality, and pleasure. A brand that is a Lover wants to make others desirable. They fear being unwanted or unnoticed so they play up their looks and tone of voice to make sure they are heard.
Being inspirational, provocative, and (to state the obvious) creative are the hallmarks of a Creator. A Creator must create. They desire to make things that are innovative and totally original. Expressive, talented, and imaginative, the Creator works to make things that last and are impactful.
The Ruler is commanding, refined and articulate. They desire control above all other things and have extremely dominant personalities. They are authoritative and intimidating because they are worth a lot and they know it. But they’re not afraid to let that wealth trickle down to those that are loyal. Audiences who connect with this archetype are ambitious and want the world to see their wealth.
A person whose most inner desire is to make dreams come true. They achieve this through seemingly mystical ways and can take their audience on a transformative journey. A magician is full of imagination and belief. This archetype rarely fits the buyers' persona but can be leveraged by a business to help people achieve their dreams and transform their lives.
How To Use An Archetype To Position Your Brand
Now that you have a basic synopsis of the twelve different archetypes, it’s time to choose the one that best suits you and your business. You’ll remember at the beginning of this article when I referred to Morphius and Neo from the Matrix movies. Morphius would identify as the Sage while Neo would qualify as the Hero.
Your industry might have a typical archetype, such as the Caregiver fits most health care brands. However, you can differentiate yourself by choosing a secondary archetype.
A mix of two archetypes can help you stand out, clarify your voice, and pinpoint your messaging. If your core archetype aligns with your industry, use your secondary selection to help you get creative. I suggest using a 70/30 mix. 70% of your brand should be focused on using your core archetype and the remaining 30% can be influenced by your secondary selection. This is called the Archetypal Mix.
Again, looking at the Matrix, Morpheus is the Sage with a mix of the Magician and Neo is the Hero with a mix of the Innocent.
A great way to get started with your archetypal mix is to develop your story. People want to be taken on a journey when they read about your brand. So tell them where you came from. What influenced you? What does your future hold? Where do you plan on taking your brand? What steps are you planning to take?
This is an exciting journey for you and the people who want to connect with you want to hear about it.
As you start to implement your brand personality, you’ll start to see your audience make personal connections with you and your business. This will start out slow, so don’t expect a fast return on this technique. Your brand is a marathon, not a sprint. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t gain traction right away. The goal here is to set yourself apart from the crowd and once you effectively do that, take my word for it, people will definitely start to notice.