Which of Jung's 12 brand archetypes are you?
Before we dive into brand archetypes and the 12 brand archetypes specifically, we need to first introduce the concept of an archetype. Unfortunately, that means getting a little bit A-Level psychology, so get comfortable for a moment.
In 1947, renowned psychologist Carl Jung had a theory. He suggested that humans used symbolism in order to break down complex concepts into understandable bitesize chunks of information.
Jung went one further and suggested that these symbols were “individual products of our unconscious” and were grouped together by “forms or categories of a collective nature”.
Basically what Jung was getting at was that as humans, we subconsciously recognise symbols (traits) that help us to define what someone stands for and what motivates their actions, and then we put those symbols into a category that helps us to identify that type of person (or brand). Jung called these pre-programmed categories, archetypes.
It is these nifty archetypes that help us to identify everything we interact with. Using archetypes we recognise the villain in our favourite Netflix series, the hero in our favourite book, and the antihero in our favourite film. And when it comes to our shopping habits, we connect with some brands over others because of the recognisable traits we identify that resonate more closely with our personalities.
That resonation is the reason which brand archetype you are matters. Your archetype is essentially the glue that holds your brand identity together, and it’s also what entices your customers through the door.
What does brand archetype mean?
A brand archetype presents a brand in exactly the same manner as a fictional character is presented in their story. Brand archetypes use behaviours, messaging, symbology and values to convey a persona, and a brand story, that is recognisable, and ultimately relatable, to its desired audience.
Take Uber, as an early example. Uber is everyone’s mate. Uber will get you where you need to go, and it will do it in much more comfort, safety and style than your bog-standard taxi firm will. Why? Because Uber actively uses symbolism and messaging to tell us it cares about us. It lets us view information on our drivers so we know they’re vetted and safe. It lets us pick what type of car we’d like to be driven in which aligns with our self-image. We feel recognised and seen with Uber, and that’s what some of us want. Thus, Uber’s brand archetype is The Caregiver (spoilers).
When accurately identified and personified, brand archetypes reflect brand personality that makes customers relate to the brand or product through resonating with specific customer personas whose wants, needs and desires align with what the brand is telling them they offer.
Wondering where your brand fits in? Check out where you are on the brand identity prism.
Brand archetype deliverables:
Brand archetypes do three things:
- They align your brand with the appropriate brand archetype personality and motivator, keeping your brand focused and giving it a solid identity.
- They inform your internal content creators and your external creative partners of the types of content that need to be created in line with your brand personality.
- They affiliate the offerings of your brand with desired Customer Persona types.
Because of those three deliverables, there are two fundamental reasons you would want to align your brand with its appropriate brand archetype, and entrench that archetype throughout your brand strategy. They are:
- Connection: Markets today are saturated. It’s likely that you will have more competitors than ever before, and that they’ll be competing across a number of different areas like benefits, value proposition and price. If you want to stand out from the crowd, connecting with your audience is your first port of call.
2. Differentiation: To connect with your audience in the first place, you need them to see you and that involves differentiating yourself. Trying to get creative with differentiation can sometimes backfire, but by adopting a personality, the branding guidelines and the blueprint are almost written for you.
What are the 12 brand archetypes?
Okay, here’s the promised land: The bit we mentioned right at the start. Jung identified 12 brand archetypes, and we’ve broken them down into the four generally recognised categories that align with the brand's primary motivation.
We’ve handily grouped them by their categories below, and provided some real life brand archetype examples.
Category One: Stability Control
Brand archetypes that are motivated by stability and control aim to provide their consumers with a sense of security and control over their lives. Life can be uncertain and full of change, and so these archetypes aim to ground and reassure consumers by providing structure and order.
The caregiver brand archetype reflects a selfless personality that wants to care for and protect its customers.
Caregiver brands will have brand values of compassion, nurturing and security. Brands wanting to follow a Caregiver archetype therefore must harness values of warmth, selflessness, generosity and nurture to provide consumers with feelings of safety that appeal to their needs.
Caregiver examples: Johnson & Johnson, whose messaging mostly communicates its desire to nurture, protect and care for its consumers' well beings and that of their young families especially.
Brands following the archetype of the Creator often channel values of innovation, individuality and expression.
Creators' security comes from tapping into consumers' desire for control. Consumers can decide for themselves to be innovative in order to make sense of the world around them or to express their individuality, which puts them in control of their own destiny - a key element of the Creator brand archetype messaging.
To connect with customers, Creators must emphasize how they provide tools that allow their consumers to express themselves. Consumers must always be the heroes in their own story, so messaging should encourage consumers to be themselves and promote their individuality by leveraging their imagination and creative desires.
Creator examples: Adobe. Adobe put the power in their customers’ hands in order for them to unlock their creative, and inner, potential by supplying them with the tool they need: Their products.
Brands following the archetype of the ruler are authoritative, confident, slightly intimidating and value class, success and prosperity. Typically Rulers see themselves as industry leaders, untouchable by competitors below.
Brands following the Ruler archetype must look to reaffirm a sense of prestige, power and respect to their consumers. Consumers will want and need to feel as though they are buying into an exclusive club, so a Ruler brand must stress their value proposition and define what makes their brand so authoritative.
Ruler examples: Ruler brands almost always have a direct correlation with luxury, so think brands like Mercedes Benz and Rolex Watches. Both of these brands come with an air of superiority, an exclusive luxury that not just anybody can afford. Even though Mercedes Benz are beginning to appeal to wider audiences, they withhold their prestige through promoting feelings of class and expertise.
Category Two: Learning Freedom
Brand archetypes following the Learning Freedom category typically value autonomy over belonging and find motivation in providing opportunities for education and self-fulfilment.
Businesses who want to embody the Explorer brand archetype will regularly express their joy at finding freedom in discovery. Explorers don’t like conformism, instead, they like to push themselves as their personality traits include bravery, an explorative nature and a love for discovery. Explorers also love to meet a challenge.
Brands adopting the Explorer archetype will be constantly challenging their consumers and promoting freedom. One such way to do this is to present the freedom of the outdoors, and then present the products or services of the brand as the tool in allowing consumers to explore.
Explorer examples: The North Face, who regularly present their products as the necessary equipment that their consumers need to break free and get outside.
The Innocent brand archetype is a brand personality that has an optimistic, almost angelic attitude toward life.
Brands following the Innocent archetype are honest, pure and want to do good. They believe that everyone is beautiful and should embrace who they are.
Brands channelling the archetype of Innocent must earn customer trust with honest, genuine and positive messaging and symbolisation. Anything negative will dissuade customers because customers use Innocent brands to feel happy, inclusive and to gain a feeling of personal satisfaction.
Innocent example: Dove soap. Dove tells us, its consumers, that it wants to look after us by being honest with what its products contain - hardly anything that will harm us or the planet - and most importantly it tells all of us we are loved and valued. Its inclusivity campaign for women of all sizes and ethnicities was a testament to this and made it the first industry leader to promote such diversity.
Innocent archetypes like trust. Know how you can build trust? Find out by clicking here.
The Sage brand archetype is exactly as you would envision: They are truthful, knowledgeable and wise. Their motivation is driven by the love of understanding the world and bestowing that understanding on others. Brands that fall under the Sage umbrella love learning, but they also love sharing their learning through philosophy.
Brands following the Sage archetype must appeal to their consumers by appealing to their intelligence and feeding their never-ending thirst for learning. Brands must utilise factual and well-researched information, channel their messaging with the highest vocabulary and not oversimplify complex ideas.
Sage example: IBM. IBM has been around a long time, and this has positioned it as a Sage industry leader. Its history promotes its experience and its wisdom, meaning when IBM speak, people listen (or buy).
Category Three: Risk Achievement
Archetypes falling under the Risk Achievement category are archetypes of power. These brand archetypes predominantly focus on consumer attitudes that are looking to achieve their own goals and have one eye on world transformation (yes, really).
The Hero brand archetype is very similar to fictional Hero archetypes in that Hero archetypes are motivated by proving their worth through grit and determination. That and they still want to save the day so that the world is generally impressed by their ability. Hero archetypes are also the workaholics and gain a sense of pride that their work rate is miles ahead of their competitors.
To appeal to Hero consumers, Hero brands must make their customers feel empowered, as though they can succeed and achieve in anything they set their mind to. Brands must also emphasise that the world will recognise that success.
Hero example: Microsoft. Notice how everyone using a Microsoft product in a Microsoft advert produces an incredible piece of work that astounds people around them? That’s the Hero archetype in full swing. Microsoft will boost your career, Microsoft will leave people in awe of you. All you’re missing is a cape with the Windows logo.
The Magician brand archetype strives to achieve consumer dreams through channelling mystical and magical ways.
Magician archetypes are able to take their consumers through a process of transformation by experiencing a magical moment. Magician archetypes believe we are only limited by our imagination and so look to break that by pushing the realms of what is possible.
Interestingly Magician archetypes rarely fit one select consumer persona because different personas can be appealed to. Any brand that provides a product or service that will transform their customer could well be classed as a Magician archetype.
Magician example: Would it really be magic if we didn’t mention Disney? Walt Disney taps into consumer imaginations to give their customers a transformational experience (Lost > Found) by bringing new worlds to life both in their theme parks and in their films.
A business following the Rebel brand archetype is most likely to be driven by the desire to revolutionise the world, and also the excitement that comes with the anarchy involved. Rebels typically have a disdain for conformity, rules and regulation and whilst they have good intentions, anger is actually their driving motivator.
Because Rebel archetypes are lost without a fight, brands often need to prove to consumers that they see the world as their customers do. That means brands must be honest and genuine in their messaging. A disdain for status quo and a dominant personality will resonate with consumers, as will the empowerment for change and revolution.
Rebel example: Controversial pick time: Huawei. Huawei picked up a bad rep not so long ago for “spying towers”. Did it harm the brand? Not really. Do people still buy its products? Yep. Why? Because isn't danger just a little bit.. Exhilarating? Huawei’s nonchalant attitude has won its customers in the rebel sphere who want to experience life outside of conformity and who want to be viewed as doing things a little bit.. Differently.
Rebels make enemies and influence people. Want your brand to do the same? Read how.
Category Four: Belonging
Archetypes that fall into the Belonging category don’t worry about making their impact in the world but instead worry about themselves. Consumers in this category may be insecure or self-reflective, and so the archetypes in the belonging category use a personable, your mate from down the pub, brand voice to help connect consumers with people similar to themselves.
The Everyman is the archetype of the normal, everyday consumer. What the Everyman most desires are belonging, and blending into the crowd.
The Everyman archetype can like a majority of things but is rarely passionate about one which makes them liked but easily overseen. Brands looking to utilise the Everyman archetype must make their consumers feel an overwhelming sense of “nice”, be down to earth, give consumers a feeling of belonging, and promote the message that it’s ok to just be slap bang normal.
Everyman example: Slack. Slack doesn’t try to be the brand new must-have IM. Slack is just there when you need to send someone a message or seven GIFs in a row and you want to do it reliably and quickly. Slack-like connecting you with other people, and Slack is just… Slack. It’s normal and it’s safe and most of all: It’s nice for everyone.
Jester archetypes are the stereotypical Class Clowns. They enjoy having fun, and the brand sees it as their duty to act as non-conformal as possible to corporate guidelines and instead be an informal ray of sunshine.
Jester archetypes are optimists, will always see (and promote) the positive and regularly encapture a child-like sense of fun. Because we all need light in our lives, Jester brands rarely have one buyer persona and instead appeal to many.
Brands looking to channel the Jester archetype should always highlight the light-hearted and positive side of life and are allowed to make puns in their copy. The best form of connection is laughter, and if brands get this right, they can become much-loved in the eyes of their consumers.
Jester example: Bizspace. Huddle worked with Bizspace way back in 2017 and they are the epitome of fun. Bizspace transforms something boring: Office space, into something jovial, lighthearted and punny, and regularly pokes fun at themselves. This creates a change from the normal and entices business owners into using their services by forming a human, non-corporate, non-boring, connection.
Lover brand archetypes desire to be desired. Their own desires are grounded in intimacy and sensuality. They’re the sexy, seductive brand that will use soft imagery and even softer colour palettes to evoke strong emotions in their consumers.
Brands that are appealing to consumers fitting the Lover archetype must stir consumer desires by directly appealing to their sensuality and need for connection. Communication and messaging must be soft and seductive both in tone and language. Symbolism is particularly important for brands conveying this archetype.
Brands can leverage their audience’s desires through sight, sound, smell and touch and a good dosage of red or pink in the colour palette will go a long way.
Lover example: Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret are not shy about fitting the lover archetype. The word “sexy” is in their slogan, as is the softer, gentler word, “chic”. Their imagery is filled with soft pastel colours, and their advertisements feature prolonged eye contact between the model and the viewer. Victoria’s Secret channels the delicacy of their products and turns that into the sensual promotion of intimacy, touch and desire.
To Wrap Up:
If you’ve made it here, congratulations! By now you should have a comprehensive idea of which archetype your brand is either going to or does fall into.
At Huddle, building extraordinary brands is kind of our thing. And we know just how to empower a business by matching it with its relevant brand archetype to enable it to build an emotional connection with its target market, and give its brand enduring value. If that sounds like something you need, like now, get to work with us here.
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