The 12 brand archetypes: How to create a branding strategy
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
If you’re struggling with how to market yourself to your clients or how to create a brand that reflects your values and personality, keep reading below for an overview of the 12 brand archetypes. See what speaks to you and use it to define your brand and give your messaging a voice that will resonate with your target audience.
Your brand is your identity.
How you choose to communicate with your audience via your tone of voice, colors, images and even your font will influence the way you are perceived by them.
This is both an opportunity and a threat because if you aren't strategic with the content you produce and the way you deliver it, you risk not connecting with your clients or worse—being misunderstood by them.
Think about your favorite brands— do they use loud colors and graphic fonts to excite you? Or maybe they use soft pinks and beiges in their photos, and have soft language or whimsical characters to ease you into a state of happiness and security.
One of my favorite brands, #LushCosmetics uses very loud imagery, white scrawling font and unconventional models in oder to get across the point that they are unconventional activists who don't take themselves too seriously.
That wouldn't work for my brand because I want to convey knowledge and business savvy to my clients, and I don't think they would want to see photos of me naked.
The following list of brand archetypes will help you understand the strategy behind the biggest brands dominating the market, and will be a starting point to help you begin to craft your own vision for your branding and how you want to convey who you are to your customers.
Remember, if you aren't clear about who you are, no one else will be either, and your engagement will drop.
1. The MAGICIAN can make your dreams come true
Who: Known to be creative, charismatic and clever, Magician brands bring your wildest dreams to life. The Magician has a deep curiosity for the hidden workings of the universe and craves to bring those secrets to life. Using imagery and experiences go above and beyond what is possible, the Magician manifests crazy or even impossible ideas into reality.
Brand Strategy: Disney is an example of a magical brand that offers a transformative experience. Your first thoughts of Disney might be Disney World, or a fairy princess, or something else equally spectacular and magical. The whimsical nature of Disney doesn't detract from their business strategy-- it adds to it. Brands like Disney are able to capitalize on wonder and then sell it back at a high price through the promise of a magical experience.
Examples: Disney, Tesla, Coca Cola
2. The SAGE values wisdom and truth above all else
Who: The Sage is motivated by learning, cognitive fulfillment and truth. This archetype fundamentally espouses the the belief that rational thought is what defines the human experience and provides branding to encourage thinking and logic.
Brand strategy: The sage uses a lot of reasoning, expert opinion and direct, clear language in their branding. Because wisdom is the key to their success, brand colors are blue, red and black, denoting competence, intelligence and authority, and communication style is direct and factual.
Examples: Google, CNN, Wikipedia
3. The INNOCENT is an eternal optimist
Who: A true optimist, this archetype’s glass is always half full. The Innocent represents virtue and nostalgia and wonder, and the brand will trigger a nostalgia for your childhood, or a simpler time--which will convert clients into lifetime customers.
Brand Strategy: Use simple, clean images and photos of real life to connect with your audience. Less is more here, and the wording needs to be sweet and comforting. Use colors like blue, white and yellow to convey peace, sincerity and optimism.
Examples: Dove, Aveeno naturals, Whole Foods
4. The OUTLAW is a force to be reckoned with
The outlaw has had enough. As a voice of social change, the Outlaw will not be told what to do and challenges the status quo-- igniting a cult following in doing so. This archetype is a harbinger of awakening, change and a fresh outlook on life, and pushes boundaries through bold leadership, courage and a one of a kind perspective.
Brand Strategy: The epitome of the Outlaw is Apple. They have been revolutionizing the tech industry for decades, and their vision, clean design and simple yet compelling marketing has inspired lines longer than Disneyland for their product launches. Use product photos, bright colors and direct one sentence calls to action to amass your own following.
Examples: Impossible Foods, Apple, Virgin
5. The JESTER is irreverent and hysterical.
Who: The ultimate goal of a jester brand is to make you laugh and have fun. Known for over the top antics, wicked humor and nonsense, the Jester transcends convention by joyfully living in the moment. This clever brand is able to bend perspective, twist meanings and interpret things in surprising ways and sees life as a playground of opportunity.
Brand Strategy: Dr. Squatch soap has a HILARIOUS ad campaign and the perfect example of a jester archetype. Some male consumers react well to hyper-masculine branding, while others don’t. By making a joke out of these super manly brands by creating videos of regular guys showering with their soap in the woods, Dr. Squatch appeals to everyone.
Examples: Dr. Squatch, Old Spice, Burger King
6. The LOVER attracts and entices you
Who: A lover brand poses a supreme desire for beauty, closeness and affection. They want you to feel nurtured, desired and affirmed. Full of rich imagery and over the top displays of pure decadence, the Lover brand wants you to associate them with bliss and intimacy.
Brand strategy: Sexual imagery, emotive ads and suggestive text are common tactics used by lover brands to appeal to your intimate side, and they achieve that through suggestive language and colors associated with passion and desire, like gold, red and pink.
Examples: Victoria's Secret, Godiva, Haagen-Dazs
7. The EXPLORER craves new experiences
Who: Freedom is a top priority for an explorer. Where other brands might try to sell you an ideal, the explorer will inspire you to break the mold. This archetype values autonomy, taking risks and pushing boundaries. Their is no limit to what they, or you, can accomplish.
Brand strategy: Subaru is an excellent example for this archetype. They don’t sell cars based on luxury or comfort – they focus their ads on selling you an adventure. Think about using powerful imagery that inspires the will to break free, and strong language that pushes boundaries with a 'no limits' psychology. Colors here should be vibrant and/or green.
Examples: REI, National Geographic, Patagonia, Subaru
8. The RULER wants to dominate
Who: The Ruler represents power and control and is motivated to lead. Luxury and exclusivity are critical for this brand's image, and as such product categories that fall under this umbrella tend to include jewelry and high-end automobiles. In order to justify their power and gain a following, the Ruler must demonstrate expertise, success and competence.
Brand Strategy: Over the top luxury and envy-invoking imagery are a must in any advertising campaigns. Strong, bold colors like gold or silver, beautiful images and sleek design must be at the forefront of your branding.
Examples: Mercedes Benz, Bulgari, Rolex
9. The CAREGIVER is altruistic: devoted to caring for others
The caregiver's main desire is to be there for you. Caregiver brands build trust by providing advice, reassurance and support. They are patient, self-sacrificing and provide reassurance. You won't ever see a caregiver brand run an ad that speaks negatively of their competition--they are motivated by compassion, generosity and optimism.
Brand Strategy: One of the most famous Caregivers, Johnson & Johnson, has the tagline “Johnson & Johnson: A Family Company.” This epitomizes the caregiver archetype. Colors like blue and white evoke feelings of innocence and purity, as do soft images with babies and the elderly.
Who: Johnson & Johnson, Tom's, Marriott
10. The HERO overcomes great odds to make the world better
Who: The hero makes the world better by overcoming obstacles through acts of stregnth, courage and goodness. A hero brand doesn't want to serve you, it’s there to challenge you. The essence of the Hero brand is defined by sacrifice and transformation.
Brand Strategy:Evoke strength and a warrior mentality by using bold call to actions and vivid images. Show your inner hero through inspirational scenery, action shots and using all caps or very direct language.
Examples: Nike, Gatorade
11. The EVERYMAN believes everyone matters equally
This archetype is focused on appealing to everyone by highlighting our commonalities and the things that unite us as humans. Driven by a need to feel a sense of belonging, The Everyman believes that everyone matters equally, regardless of status, age, ethnicity or creed. Be careful --this is the most challenging archetype to pull off because you have to make sure that your product actually appeals to every demographic, which isn't easy.
Brand strategy: Focus on simplicity, clarity and a "what you see is what you get” attitude. Focus on your product and use diversity in your ads to ensure that everyone is represented. Brown and blue are good colors to go with here because they are popular and neutral.
Examples: Folgers, Levi's, Ikea
12. The CREATOR needs to discover and pioneer
Who: The Creator has a passionate need for self-expression, to be a cultural pioneer. They are highly imaginative and questions reality. They have a highly developed sense of aesthetic and are more concerned with the way things work and look than how much they cost.
Branding: Thoughtful questions, interesting facts, bright colors like orange, red and black that represent courage, creativity, excitement, boldness and dominance.
Examples: Apple, Adobe and Youtube.
So, what archetype are you?
I hope that this list has inspired you to start thinking about who your brand archetype is so that you have a clear image in your mind as you create your branding and marketing strategy for your clients. The more specific you are about your values, messaging and what makes you special, the more engaged and committed your followers will be.
A clear, easily recognizable brand strategy will help you determine how your customers can best connect with your products and/or services and guarantee longterm growth and engagement.
Keep checking back in weekly to stay up to date on all the latest content, as well as to get inspired as you grow what you love. If you liked this post, please share it on your social media accounts, and leave a comment below! Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions, or are interested in working with me to help you build what you love.