Brand Archetypes: The Ultimate Guide with 48 Examples
When you understand the power of brand archetypes, building brands becomes much simpler and more rewarding.
Archetypes were a concept introduced by Carl Jung, who believed that they were models of people, behaviors, or personalities.
Archetypes, he suggested, were inborn tendencies that play a role in influencing human behavior.
Archetypes are successfully used in film, books, and in branding.
In branding, the archetypal framework helps us build human-like brand personas.
And best brand personas are forged by identifying solidly with one — and only one — core archetype.
Companies do best when they are explicit about the archetype that is truest to their values, mission, and vision.
Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to your brand as if it was alive.
They help you define your brand so that your customers will develop a relationship with it and care about it.
Brands who adopt the Carl Jung’s archetype framework become very successful at branding.
The archetype framework identifies the 12 core archetypes.
I will describe each shortly and give you 48 examples: 3 examples in branding and 1 example in film.
So that you can relate and understand how to use archetypes to define your brand.
Ps. Check out the promo video of my new course: “Mastering Brand Archetypes”.
The Innocent is a positive personality with an optimistic outlook on life.
Their motto is:
Free to be you and me.
The Innocent also may be known as utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, traditionalist, or a dreamer.
Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump depicts the Innocent character very well.
They often want to go back to nature and natural living.
They’re honest and pure and they have no ill-will towards anyone.
Ultimately they want themselves and everyone else around them to be happy.
The Innocent’s core desire is to experience paradise.
And they fear doing something wrong or bad that will provoke punishment.
In branding, the Innocent archetype is best for:
- Skin Care
- Fresh food
Famous brands that use the Innocent archetype:
Aveeno and Dove are both skincare products that promote natural ingredients and simplicity.
They also adopt a simplistic persona that represents women more naturally.
Whole foods are also about their natural, organic food that has been untouched.
The Sage is a seeker of truth, knowledge and wisdom.
Their motto is:
The truth will set you free.
They’re also known as expert, scholar, advisor, researcher, thinker, mentor or teacher.
They have a desire not only to understand the world, but also to share that understanding with others.
They are lifelong learners that enjoy expressing their knowledge or having philosophical conversations.
In film there’s no character that personifies the sage better than Yoda in Star Wars.
The Sage’s core desire is the discovery of truth.
And they fear ignorance and being duped or misled.
In branding, the Sage archetype is best for:
- News Networks
- Schools / Universities
The sage brand might aim to show the path to wisdom or to celebrate lifelong learning.
To connect with with them, emphasize that education is the path to wisdom and wisdom is where the answers lie.
Famous brands that use the Sage archetype:
Google has become the world’s biggest online encyclopedia essentially where answers and information to any topic in the world can be found in seconds.
And though they rarely provide the answers of themselves they are the guide to their audience to find the answers that they need.
The Explorer has this thirst for discovery and to connect with nature.
Their motto is:
You only get one life. Make it count.
The Explorer also may be known as the seeker, adventurer, wanderer, individualist or rebel.
The rugged environment is the one they feel most at home in.
They don’t want to be fenced in and they often feel the confines of modern life weighing on them.
A true explorer in the film would be Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones.
The Explorer’s core desire is to find out who they are through exploring the world.
And they fear getting trapped, conforming, inner emptiness, nonbeing.
In branding, the Explorer archetype is best for:
- Auto (SUV)
- Outdoor Equipment
- Adventure Travel
To resonate with an explorer a brand might celebrate the journey or acknowledge the modern confinements of society.
Brands communicating with an exciting, fearless or daring voice will evoke these adventurous emotions.
Famous brands that use the Explorer archetype:
Each one of these brands celebrates the outdoors and evoke the desires of adventure within their audiences.
Any outdoor activity such as camping, fishing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cave diving etc.
Promote the unknown as the land of the free, and challenge them to explore it with your brand, of course.
The Outlaw has the enticement of forbidden fruit.
Their motto is:
Rules are meant to be broken.
They are romantic figures, ready to disrupt a society that has succumbed to tyranny, repression, conformity, or cynicism.
Certainly, we see the Outlaw in its most positive form in figures like Robin Hood or Zorro.
And in the most negative form — typical villains, like in Superman or Batman: Lex Luthor or the Joker.
The Outlaw’s core desire is for revenge or revolution.
And they fear being powerless, trivialized or inconsequential.
In branding, the Outlaw archetype is best for:
- Auto / Moto
- Body Art
Famous brands that use the Outlaw archetype:
Harley Davidson is the typical outlaw brand and probably the most focused archetypal personality that there is.
They represent the outlaw persona to an absolute and appeal to the inner outlaw within their audience.
The Magician has dreams that other people see as impossible.
Their motto is:
Anything can happen!
Magic is the technology for making dreams come true.
The Magician can be known as the visionary, catalyst, innovator, charismatic leader, mediator, shaman, healer, or medicine man or woman.
Sometimes the magic is just in the energy to persist.
Witness the remarkable success of the Energizer Bunny, which seems magical because it “keeps going and going.”
Magician brands include all those that foster “magical moments”, something that others see as impossible.
The Magician’s core desire is to make dreams come true.
And they fear unanticipated negative consequences.
In branding, the Magician archetype is best for:
And any brand that delivers some kind of element of mystery or mystique.
Famous brands that use the Magician archetype:
Disney is the typical brand when it comes to all things magical.
The opening credits for their movies have a special place in all of our hearts.
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