Brand archetypes: classic characters for indelible brand stories

Your brand is a character. Cast your brand as a person, and you can turn customers in the fans and transactions into relationships.

Brand storytelling is a huge trend in business and branding, and all great storytellers know you need memorable characters to really captivate an audience. Companies cultivate brand archetypes to connect with people and tell a story that inspires and motivates.

Sol Marketing created this infographic to illustrate the 12 brand archetypes. Understanding your brand’s archetype lets you be clear about the role you play in your customers’ stories.

Just as a writer uses archetypal characters to craft a novel or a screenplay, brands can use archetypes to bring the human element to their brand. Stories from the great religious texts to movies, comics and blogs all feature characters and stories passed down from generation to generation. Today’s superhero on a journey of redemption would be as familiar to an ancient Greek teen as it is to the kid next door. Virgin Airlines’ quest for adventure mirrors Homer’s epic Odyssey.

Deb Gabor, Sol Marketing CEO and author of the upcoming book, “Branding is Sex: How to Get Your Customer Laid and Sell the Hell out of Everything,” says, “The most successful brands are strategic and intentional about what they stand for, who they are — and who they are for. The most enduring brands connect emotionally with people at an unconscious level. The 12 classic brand archetypes represent iconic characters everyone can relate to — the characters that populate our collective unconscious.”

What’s your brand’s archetype?

The 12 brand archetypes are Magician, Sage, Innocent, Outlaw, Jester, Lover, Explorer, Ruler, Caregiver, Hero, Regular Guy and Creator.

Are you a Hero brand, determined to find the way to victory? Hero brands have the desire to prove their worth through courageous acts and a strategy to be as strong and competent as possible. GoPro and the U.S. Army are Hero brands.

Creator brands, like Lego and Pixar, believe if they can imagine it, it can be done. Their core desire is to create things of enduring value to realize a vision.

How do you determine your brand’s archetype? When choosing an archetype, think what your customers need from you and the story you want to tell. You should be able to answer these questions.

What’s your brand’s:
Core desire?
Overall goal?
Greatest fear?
Biggest challenge?
Greatest gift?

It’s important to understand your brand’s promise to its audience — your customers. You then use your brand archetype to deliver on that promise and create a meaningful story people will love and remember.

A brand archetype shouldn’t be created in a vacuum, and it shouldn’t be chosen based on what you want your brand to be. You may think your brand is a hero, but your customers see you as a magician. Your customer decides. Your brand archetype must be authentic and resonate with your customers. Only then can your brand play a pivotal role in your customers’ stories.

Sol Marketing is a Magician brand. Our goal is to make our clients’ dreams come true, and our strategy for doing this is to create a vision they can live by.

About Sol Marketing

The best brands in the world become part of their customers’ self concepts. By working with Sol Marketing, brands create irrational loyalty with their customers, employees, partners, vendors, channels and investors. Working from our office in Austin, Texas, Sol Marketing inspires and drives emerging companies and household name brands to bond strongly with their customers and sell the hell out of everything.

Brands should be able to answer these three questions with certainty and authenticity. What does it say about someone that they use your brand? What is the singular thing your customers get from you they can’t get anywhere else? And how do you make your customers heroes in their own story?