12 Brand Archetypes: Definition, Characteristics and Examples

Every day, over 5,000 brand ads and promo messages crop up around us to capture one minute’s customer attention. Though most of them are deflected unconsciously, a few manage to get through us. You might think that this happens because some brands sell the products we like. However, it’s also the storytelling behind the brand’s positioning that can strongly resonate with our personal identity.

Have you ever noticed timeless figures that appear repeatedly throughout the culture and history? These are the archetypes, which relate to branding in the most powerful way. Our brains naturally recognize them, as they cue us to feel certain emotions and produce programmed gut-level responses.

A brand archetype defines how a brand looks, speaks and feels like shaping its tone of voice, choice of colors and style for brand images and even the way it responses to challenges.

Thus, brand archetypes are globally recognized characters that reflect certain patterns of human behavior. Let’s figure out which of them can be a perfect match for your business.

1. The Innocent

The main purpose of this archetype is to be happy making everyone around happy as well. It is a perfect match for brands with strong altruistic values that make a stand for morality, simplicity, and good virtues. Though this archetype is often seen as boring or naive, it is commonly perceived as optimistic, romantic, and friendly.

Example: Coca-Cola, Dove soap

2. The Ruler

Rulers are driven by the desire to build a prospering community. This archetype is commonly chosen by businesses who want to build their brand around originality. Ruler brands appeal to their audience using strong logos and images of their products in context. Such visuals show off the motivation behind brand, as well as their exclusive image.

Example: Rolex

3. The Explorer

Explorers are driven by the desire to contribute. In the restless search for the new experiences, they leave boredom far behind, breaking free from rules and exploring the taste of real, authentic life. Explorer brands demonstrate not-do-obvious sides of their businesses. They post quality content about adventures, lifestyle, and active people put in different context. They know how to stand out.

Example: The North Face

4. The Regular Guy

These are the good guys who want to be a part of a community they belong to. Their actions are driven by the fear of missing out. At their best, they are very reliable and optimistic. At their worst, they are superficial and weak (think of Homer Simpson as an example). Such brands follow down-to-earth ethos and appreciate customers who trust them.

Example: Carling

5. The Magician

Brands who choose this archetype are striving to make someone’s dreams a reality. They stick to the idealized vision of the world. On the positive side, they are dreamy, inspiring, and forward-thinking. On the negative, they seem to be naive and delusional. Such businesses emit a sense of wonder not just around their products but around their messaging as well.

Example: Disney

6. The Outlaw

This archetype is the perfect match for the brands who love to break the rules. At their best, they are advocates for change and agents of non-conformity. At their worst, they are rebellious fighters whose real intentions take too long to be noticed. Such brands resonate with non-conformists who love to break the conventions.

Example: Harley-Davidson

7. The Sage

This character is a real truth-seeker striving to find the wisdom in every context possible. Think of them as open-minded, wise, and articulate figures. However, be prepared yjay they can be pedantic, cold, and self-absorbed as well. Sage businesses use symbols, higher level ethos, and intellectual vocabulary to deliver the messages of wisdom.

Example: National Geographic

8. The Lover

This archetype wants to embrace love and foster a sense of intimacy. These characters are very romantic, dedicated, and warm. At their worst, businesses that choose this archetype seem to be too selfless and sensual. However, their efforts to build relationships with their audience are so strong that they cannot be ignored.

Example: Marie Claire

9. The Jester

Inspired by the idea to bring joy to the entire world, this character is always full of hope. At their best, represents of this archetype are light-hearted, funny, and with a polished sense of humor. At their worst, these characters may be perceived as irrelevant or disrespectful. Jester businesses allow people to capture an impulsive joy and have a good time whenever they are and whatever they are doing.

Example: IKEA

10. The Nurturer

These characters are driven by the fear of selfishness and the desire to protect others. On the positive side, they are generous, compassionate, and strong. On the negative side, they are a bit manipulative. Nurturer businesses want to be recognized, not patronized. They promise recognition and protection using emotionally-driven messages in order to be heard.

Example: SMA

11. The Creator

Creators want to build something great — products with meaning and endless value. Entrepreneurs at their core, creator brands are exceedingly innovative. They make a stand against conformity and for perfectionism. For this reason, they are often deemed impractical. They use rich visual images to drive imagination.

Example: Lego

12. The Hero

In the continuous fear of failure, this archetype is called upon to show off their worth. They like to prove that they are better than the rest of their competitors. At their best, they are skillful, curious, and determined. At their worst, they are selfish, arrogant, and aggressive. Hero brands win consumer choices by promising triumphs and promoting themselves as superior to their competitors.

Example: Duracell

Over to you

You may be thinking that each brand is a complex system consisting of lots of the archetypes listed above. However, some companies choose just one archetype and stick to it. This helps them improve their messaging, positioning, and ways to engage with their audience.

If you can figure out which archetype works best for you, you’ll maximize your marketing efforts and get streets ahead of your competitors.