If you were asked, “What’s your brand’s personality?,” would you know how to respond?
For some companies, the answer comes easier than others. Businesses with a strong sense of their values and messaging may define their brand identity in a few simple words like, “confident, helpful, and upbeat.” And while these adjectives are great starting points, your brand’s personality is so much more than a few buzzwords…
Your brand’s personality helps you to form powerful connections with your customers, who relate to and admire your shared characteristics and values. That’s why you need a clear idea of your brand’s motivations as well as what drives your audience. After all, you can’t make deep connections without truly understanding your brand’s and your customers’ shared desires.
One fun way to do this is to use archetypes in your marketing to personify your brand’s personality and the personalities of your target audience. Think of them like your company’s and customer’s zodiac signs — except instead of being fated in the stars, you get to determine which they are! But first, let’s learn more about how archetypes were formed…
What Are Brand Archetypes?
In the early 1900s, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that all humans repeat similar patterns of behavior from generation to generation. These personality types are rooted in psychology, with the belief that every person is born with shared instincts and an unconscious understanding of the behavioral patterns they exhibit themselves and observe in others.
Jung coined the term “archetypes” to describe the different personalities we see over and over again. He bucketed these personalities into 12 archetypes, including the Ruler, Creator/Artist, Sage, and others.
Fast-forward to 2001. Two women applied this concept to marketing.
They molded these archetypes to brand messaging, relating humanity’s personalities to ways brands present themselves and connect with their customers.
In the book, The Hero and the Outlaw, Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson assert that archetypes are the “heartbeat of a brand” because they inspire customers to relate to a product as if it actually were alive. Because people see a powerful brand as a living, breathing thing, they can develop a special relationship with it and start caring about it as if it were a real person.
Throughout the years, marketers everywhere have built upon this archetypical model by modernizing Jung’s initial theories: giving the core personality types slightly more relatable names — and really defining strong characteristics to help differentiate each from the others.
The 12 Brand Archetypes
When it comes to understanding your brand and your customer’s personalities and core desires, there are 12 archetypes:
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of each — with a few examples of real-life brands that embody that particular archetype — so you can discover your brand archetype today.
1. The Outlaw
We all know someone who goes against the grain. They’re rebels by nature: anti-conformist. They’re the outcast, the renegade. They like being different and are always questioning authority — refusing to follow the crowd.
Outlaw brands and customers want to feel… well, liberated. They want to start a revolution and rock the boat. Think rebel with (or without!) a cause, or traits like righteousness, disruption, and independence. Industries that often use the Outlaw archetype include automotive, construction, and tattoo artists, just to name a few.
Outlaw Archetype Examples
Harley-Davidson. Picture those hard-edged bikers with their loud motors blaring down the highway. You could drive a safe car, or, you could ride free on a badass Harley.
Jack Daniels. Americans are independent and defy what’s expected of them. Jack Daniel’s lovers Make It Count by disrupting the normal status quo.
Red Bull. This energy drink is fuel for radical sports extremists, pushing the limits of what’s “safe.” We’re talking about monster truckers going through crazy obstacles, motorbikers doing flips mid-air, and daredevils diving from near-space plummeting to the Earth. Rule-breakers and renegades drink Red Bull.
2. The Magician
There’s something truly captivating about watching a magician up on stage mystifying an audience. They instill a sense of wonderment with their tricks and convey mystique — leaving you scratching your head trying to figure out their secrets.
Magician brands have the power to transform, to make you feel like dreams really can come true, or that their product or service is your magical solution. They make things happen, yet you’re not quite sure how. Yet, it fascinates and intrigues you beyond belief. Magician industries often include entertainment, beauty, or any brand that takes their customers on a journey of transformation.
Magician Archetype Examples
Disney. Their slogan is “Where Dreams Come True” and proving that magic is possible is at the heart of everything they do. Disney is perhaps the most recognizable of all Magician brand personalities. They are the Magical Kingdom, after all.
Bounty. Moms are always using Bounty paper towels to clean up messes, restoring peace back into the household after a disastrous spill. The magic “quicker picker-upper, Bounty!” transforms a space from dirty to clean in mere seconds — like a modern-day disappearing act!
Dyson. There’s a mystique to this vacuum cleaner brand’s technology. How does it suck up so much so quickly? This Magician brand paints its product as a magical dust wizard, making your messes vanish before your very eyes.
3. The Hero
Not all heroes wear capes. They do, however, all save the day. They’re brave and strong, using their physical or emotional strength for good.
They’re true masters of their craft and are honest and dependable, and they use their expertise to help others. A hero brand can be trusted to deliver, and a hero customer is someone who uses that product or service to win or courageously pursue. Hero industries typically include sportswear or equipment, emergency trade services, and outdoorsy brands.
Hero Archetype Examples
FedEx. You’re relying on a delivery for an important reason, and FedEx gets it to you in just enough time to save the day.
Tesla. The car manufacturer rolled in to save our planet from pollution with a mission of “accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable transport” through clean energy motor usage. Tesla is saving our future as a true Hero brand archetype.
The U.S. Army. This brand protects the nation, but they couldn’t do it without their soldiers and everyday heroes.
4. The Lover
A lover brand and a lover customer are driven by indulgence and luxury. They see beauty as something to be admired and idolized. It’s deserving of affection and love.
They’re sensual — creating a sense of lust that’s not always sexual. They have a softness to them and value intimacy in their relationships, romantic, or familial. Lover brand personalities may be within the fragrance, indulgent food/travel, or toiletries industries.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Lover Archetype
Victoria’s Secret. This brand sells ladies’ intimate wear. What could be more intimate than the bedroom? Their messaging centers around love and sexuality and how their product amplifies the experience.
Chanel. This perfume brand is the epitome of the Lover archetype. Their product helps their customer attract those around them at an instinctual level, alluring partners with an irresistible smell.
Kay Jewelers. “Every kiss begins with K.” That slogan will forever live on. A Kay ring or necklace says, “I love you,” without the customer needing to say a single word. Just watch this commercial to see.
5. The Jester
The Jester archetype is your cliche comedian. They use humor to connect and are playful, fun-loving personalities by nature.
Think happiness, jokes, and positivity. Jesters are motivated by enjoyment and pleasure. Life is better when you’re laughing. This brand personality takes many forms within different industries, however, you can often see this messaging used by children’s entertainment, beer, or even professional services to defy the stiff perception around their offering.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Jester Archetype
Old Spice. While this men’s body wash brand obviously wants to make its user’s smell more attractive, their messaging is far from the Lover’s personality. In their marketing, they always use humor to “spice” things up, using absurdity in their tone to make their customers laugh.
Poo-Pourri. This toilet spray understands that it can be uncomfortable to talk about bodily functions. That’s why they use humor to make a gross subject more approachable. The girl in the fancy blue dress talks so properly about pooping, you can’t help but giggle.
M&M’s. Our favorite walking, talking red and yellow M&M duo are always making silly puns about each other being “nuts” in commercials or running away from hungry customers trying to eat them.
6. The Everyman
The Everyman archetype is perhaps the most approachable, wide-catching net of brand personalities.
Brands and people who personify the Everyman just want to belong. They value connection and togetherness and like feeling included. With this in mind, a brand that can create products or services that appeal to the masses generally tends to fit into this category.
Everyman types are friendly and humble and like being relatable. The world would be a perfect place if everyone could just live together in harmony.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Everyman Archetype
IKEA. It’s hard to walk into an IKEA store and not find something that could integrate into the design of your home. That’s because they make so many basic products, they’re pretty often everyman’s safe bet.
Discover. This credit card provider will often use relatable clips in the marketing strategy of shows or celebrities most of us know and love. They appeal to the everyday consumer with these broad pop culture references.
Target. Most of this brand’s marketing campaigns and tone are centered around having options for everyone — and how their products bring people together. Check out their Bring Home Support ad to see.
7. The Caregiver
For some people, their motivations are all centered around helping others. Their personality is caring, warm, empathetic, and attentive. All the way to do is offer their support.
The Caregiver archetype is dedicated to acts of service. They want to help their fellow neighbor, and they like bringing recognition to causes so others can aid in the effort. Think of businesses in healthcare, charities, or non-profits when imagining the Caregiver archetype.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Caregiver Archetype
TOMS. Although TOMS shoes is a partially for-profit business, they provide a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair they sell. That’s selflessness and true Caregiving, if you ask us.
LUSH. This cosmetic and body care brand takes a stand for deep environmental and social causes. In their marketing, they approach topics around global warming, pollution, etc. — showing how their company helps to protect the environment all while caring for the body with gentle, ethically-sourced products.
WWF. World Wide Fund for Nature’s marketing revolves around helping wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment. They educate us on ways we can help save animals’ lives and are the perfect example of a Caregiver brand.
8. The Ruler
Ruler brand personalities take on bold messaging tactics. They care deeply about status and success and see prosperity as being wealthy or holding a position of power or buying them a sense of control.
They are often refined and carry commanding energy, seeking excellence in everything they do and using dominance and control to achieve it. Both ruler-driven customers and brands appreciate the “finer” things in life and will invest heavily into securing them. Imagine brands within luxury auto, formal wear, or hotels as prime Ruler archetype examples.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Ruler Archetype
Tiffany & Co. This jewelry store is the pinnacle of elegance and status. To be able to afford a piece of Tiffany jewelry is an “I finally made it” moment for many. The brand exudes this sense of refinement and luxury in many of its advertisements.
Rolex. If Tiffany & Co. embodies a more feminine status symbol, its brother brand would be Rolex. These watchmakers sell expensive, timeless time trackers that every man dreams of owning one day. Their marketing feeds heavily into the power and prestige owning a Rolex brings to the wearer.
Mercedes. When you drive down the street in a Mercedes, all eyes are on you. The car is well-known for its expensive price tag and luxurious class. If you drive a Mercedes, you’re a big shot and receive respect from those around you.
9. The Creator
Some brands and people are just born to invent or create. Archetypes like this value expression, imagination, and inspiration. Anything that’s provocative and visionary makes them feel alive.
Creators exist to innovate. To them, originality is deeply important and those with an open mind can find potential everywhere.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Creator Archetype
LEGO. Their product involves building creative models and their messaging is all about finding that inspiration and fun with the people you love.
Adobe. Their Creative Cloud suite contains programs specifically for designers. All their brand messaging centers around empowering their customers with the tools they need to bring their creative visions to digital life.
Etsy. This online selling platform empowers creators to sell their original work. In Etsy’s messaging, they like to push pursuing your creative visions and being able to make a livelihood doing it.
10. The Innocent
Have you ever met someone who is so sweet and pure, you wonder how they could possibly be so… Innocent? This archetype takes on a wholesome tone of voice and energy with unadulterated messaging, honesty, and oftentimes very positive, happy language.
Innocent brands and customers seek safety. They like feeling morally sound and often embody industries like beauty, food, cleaning, and products that are made organic or free of harmful chemicals. The innocent persona is humble, simple, and authentic. They often value inner beauty over outer and value health over appearance.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Innocent Archetype
Dove. This body care product brand always pushes messaging around natural beauty. Gentle, chemical-free soaps are good for your skin and healthy skin is attractive in and of itself, without make-up.
Aerie. This Innocent archetype launched a powerful marketing campaign called #AerieREAL. It’s all about showing your real self, unashamed. Their clothing is made for all shapes and sizes and their messaging is rooted deeply in showing self-love and respect for everyone.
Naked Juice. In 2021, Naked Juice launched its Strip Down to Naked campaign. While this might sound sexual, the movement is focused on clean ingredients and stripping away unnatural additives. Innocence in a bottle.
11. The Sage
To the Sage archetype, there’s nothing more potent than knowledge. Discovering information is what drives this persona, both brand and customer. They are life-long learners who are always seeking growth through education and wisdom.
Whether it’s honing their expertise or guiding others to gain knowledge, their highest purpose is seeking understanding. They love passing on their wisdom and empowering others to make a difference with it. Sage industries include media or news outlets, schools, search engines, or other institutions that value learning.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Sage Archetype
Google. Whenever we don’t know the answer to something, we search it on Google. This search engine is the world’s largest online database for knowledge and is undoubtedly an example of a Sage brand in its marketing messaging. Google releases its annual Year in Search videos to highlight some of the top-searched queries and what people want to learn.
Rosetta Stone. This language learning app encourages its customers to see all the doorways of possibilities that learning a different language can open. Their marketing involves creating new experiences in life based on being able to connect with new people once the language barrier is removed. Suddenly you learn about new cultures and educate others.
TED. Brilliant minds take the stage to share knowledge about their expertise. We all watch TedTalks to learn, while the speakers live to pass on their wisdom to help others grow. On its website, TED states, “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives, and, ultimately, the world.”
12. The Explorer
Some brands are just more adventurous than others. They find excitement and thrill in exploration and dare to discover the unknown. They often support customers who are on quests of self-discovery or liberation and support their fearless pursuits.
The Explorer archetype is all about freedom. They feel alive and connected when they are out in nature. It’s like they’re constantly being pulled to the outdoors or onto a journey of some kind — especially into the unknown. Industries that embody this personality are extreme sports, outdoor equipment, and auto SUV brands.
Examples of Brands That Embody The Explorer Archetype
Patagonia. This clothing brand makes jackets, backpacks, and more for adventurous souls. Their products are ethically sourced and designed to last for years to come so that you can Buy Less and Demand More from the clothing providers who purchase from them.
Jeep. It’s a Jeep thing. Those who own a Jeep often put their vehicles through the wringer by driving through 4-feet of water, over large rocks, and all across various forms of rugged terrain. Its brand targets those adventurous types to a T and always shows their Jeeps careening through nature — like they’re a part of the animal kingdom itself.
Merrell. This hiking boots brand encourages people to take adventures, make connections, and take the path less traveled in its shoes. In their marketing, they call it an “outdoor movement.” They are the true epitome of the Explorer archetype.
Communicating Your Brand Personality
Gaining awareness of your brand messaging and personality is an extraordinary place to start. But it’s up to you to ensure everyone within your organization knows how to uphold its consistency.
It's time to take your brand to the next level.
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