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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

What are Brand Archetypes?

Decorative image with text "Brand Archetypes"

We’ve probably heard the term Brand Archetypes passed around – but what are Brand Archetypes? The word ‘archetypes’ reflects a host of different interpretations, with the most common being a representation, symbol or imitation. It is this clarification that allows us to begin to see why the term ‘archetype’ is used in branding.

A representation, or better yet, a symbol, is how the 12 different brand archetypes help us define the different personality profiles that an organisation falls into. Brand archetypes anchor your brand against a familiar profile, something iconic, that we can all recognise as a direct link to our subconscious understanding of society. Let’s explore the 12 brand archetypes…

Graphical representation of a lady in 3 different colours (representing Sage, Innocent, Explorer)

The sage

Known for their intelligence, the Sage uses this to understand and interpret the world. With an innate drive for finding the truth, the Sage has a talent for wisdom and seeks information and knowledge.

What they offer: Expertise to customers, based on scientific findings or researched-based facts. They encourage customers to think.

Also known as: Expert, scholar, detective, advisor, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, , mentor, contemplative, guru

Sage brand example: BBC, National Geographic, NASA

The Innocent

A talent founded on faith and optimism, fellow Innocents strive to do things the right way. Their young and free approach sees them in a constant positive and happy frame of mind, with all goals set on finding paradise.

They offer: A simple solution to problems and associate themselves with simplicity, goodness and nostalgia.

Also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer

Innocent brand examples: Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola

The Explorer

A typical trait of an Explorer is their desire for freedom. With ambition being a driving force, they are keen to experience a more authentic and fulfilling life. They gain excitement from experiencing new adventures and escaping the mundane.

They offer: The feeling of freedom to help express individuality. Their culture offers exciting experiences.

Also known as: Seeker, iconoclast, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim

Explorer brand examples: Jeep, Land Rover, Wrangler, Jack Daniels

Graphical representation of a lady in 3 different colours (representing ruler, creator, carer)

The Ruler

The Ruler is keen to exercise power and leadership in order to create a prosperous and successful unit. The desire for control can make them seem authoritarian, however a firm understanding of responsibility allows them to see that power isn’t everything.

They offer: Organisation to help people to enhance their power.

Also known as: Boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator

Ruler brand examples: IBM, Microsoft

The Creator

Through artistic control and skill, the Creator expresses themselves with creativity and imagination. Their fear of the mediocre gives the Creator a desire to create value in things that stand the test of time.

They offer: The chance to be creative and promote self-expression. They help nurture innovation and artistic talent.

Also known as: Artist, inventor, innovator, muse, musician, writer or dreamer

Creator brand examples: Lego, Sony, Threerooms

The Caregiver

Their talent for compassion and generosity allows the Caregiver to help others. Their desire to protect and care allows their nurturing side to assist when needed.

They offer: A competitive advantage to their customers, serve the public sector (health care, education), help people stay connected and help people care for themselves.

Also known as: Saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter

Caregiver brand examples: Johnson’s, WWF

Graphical representation of a lady in 3 different colours (representing Magician, Hero, Outlaw)

The Magician

With a desire to understand the fundamental laws of the universe, the Magician has a talent for making the complex seem simple. They are visionary and strive to make dreams come true.

They offer: A promise to transform customers with their new-age or contemporary approach.

Also known as: Visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man

Magician brand examples: Disney, Oil of Olay

The Hero

The Hero acts courageously and proves their worth through competence and courage. The Hero wants to improve the world through their expertise.

They offer: Give people the opportunity to be all that they can be. They are at the forefront of innovations that will impact the world.

Also known as: Warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, saviour, soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player

Hero brand examples: Nike, Google, Spotify

The Outlaw

It’s no surprise that it’s the Outlaw who starts the revolution. Their shock and disrupt attitude flows through all that they do and they enjoy overturning something that’s working.

They offer: A break from industry conventions and pave the way for revolutionary new ideas and attitudes.

Also known as: Rebel, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast

Outlaw brand examples: Harley-Davidson, Apple

Graphical representation of a lady in 3 different colours (representing Lover, Jester, Regular)

The Lover

Passion, appreciation and commitment are all typical traits of the Lover. They strive to be in relationships to express their desire for intimacy and experience.

They offer: A way for people to feel they belong and help people have a good time. Their fun-loving nature allows them to have a cheeky streak.

Also known as: Partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder

Lover brand examples: Victoria’s Secret, Lady Godiva

The Jester

True to their nature, the Jester brings a whirlwind of joy and strives to live in the moment. They have no time for being bored, instead they make jokes and play. They lighten the world one light at a time and live life to it’s fullest.

They offer: A sense of belonging and help people have a good time.

Also known as: Fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian

Jester brand examples: Tango, Crusha

The Regular Guy/Girl

A desire to connect with others allows the Regular Guy/Girl to build solid virtues and a down-to-earth approach. Their need ‘to belong’ is aided by their empathetic nature.

They offer: Everyday functionality and gives people a sense of belonging.

Also known as: The person next door, the realist, the solid citizen, the good neighbour, the silent majority

Regular Guy/Girl brand examples: John Lewis, Facebook, Youtube

So there are the 12 Brand Archetypes that help us define the different personality profiles that an organisation falls into. Your audience are more likely to resonate with a personality type that they can understand and relate to. So identifying your brand against something iconic and recognisable is essential when uncovering your values and aspirations.

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