During my childhood my parents and teachers often used symbolism to explain something. I still use this way of explaining if something is difficult to understand. If a certain concept is complex, symbolism makes it easier to process. Carl Gustav Jung noted that ‘‘There are forms or images of a collective nature which occur practically all over the earth as constituents of myths and at the same time, as individual products of unconscious.’’ Through years of global research Carl defined 12 universal, mythic character archetypes that inhabit our collective unconscious. Archetype means original pattern in ancient Greek.
Nowadays companies use these 12 archetypes to define a brand personality others can relate to. It’s a clever way to give your brand a look and voice that matches your purpose and values. Abstract concepts don’t unify belief or behavior. A brand personality shapes an alignment between the brand and culture. It gets your team on the same page and leads everyone in the same direction.
You probably have some specific favourite brands you keep buying from because they resonate with you as a person. That is how brand personality works. It enables you to attract and retain the people, both customers, and employees. Figuring out what brand archetype(s) fit your brand will take your branding and marketing efforts to the next level. You don’t have to choose one. It’s also possible to mould two or three archetypes into one to create a bespoke brand personality.
Here are the 12 archetypes and the meaning behind them:
01. The magician
The magician delivers transformative experiences and makes dreams come true. Magician brands don’t build you a better vacuum cleaner or help you take care of your plants. They bring your wildest dreams to life by turning the ordinary into extraordinary. Your only limit is your imagination.
Brand examples: Disney, Polaroid.
02. The sage
The sage is always seeking for the truth. To a sage, wisdom and knowledge is the key to success. These brands not only strive to seek valuable information, but also to share it with others. Their goal is to empower people to change the world. They are thought leaders and command respect by illustrating brilliance.
Brand examples: Google, BBC.
03. The Innocent
The Innocent want to be pure and unadulterated, just like nature. In the world of The Innocent everything is free, virtuous and in harmony. Innocent brands don’t want to harm anyone or anything, and have an incredibly positive outlook on life. They would never try to convince you excessively. Instead, they are honest and transparent.
Brand examples: Nestle Pure Life, True Botanicals.
04. The Outlaw
The Outlaw seeks revolution and is a rebel at heart. Where The Innocent can be compared to a soft sweet puppy, The Outlaw archetype is more like a hungry wolf. It hungers for freedom and breaks through the status quo, even if it requires a fight. This archetype is best suited for brands and products that enable others to express their unorthodox personalities and desires.
Brand examples: Harley-Davidson, Diesel.
05. The Jester
The jester lives in the moment. Humor, silliness, and nonsense are the ingredients for a Jester Brand. The goal of a Jester brand is to put smiles on people’s faces and help them let go of stressful thoughts. This archetype encourages others to come out of their shell and party a bit.
Brand examples: Doritos, Dollar Shave Club.
06. The Lover
The Lover is a true romantic and wants you to associate them with the intimate moments in your life. What do you buy to celebrate? How do you indulge your significant other? Chances are, you’re buying from a lover brand.
Brand examples: Chanel, Godiva.
07. The Explorer
The explorer breaks free and taps into their audience’s desire to travel and discover new places, people and worlds. Where other brands might try to help you build a home, these brands want to get you out of it and help you find new pathways to self-fulfillment.
Brand examples: Red Bull, Jeep.
08. The Ruler
The Ruler is powerful and dominating. The Ruler brands strive to be the best of the very best, and are associated with luxury and success. Often portrayed as more masculine than others. They have the power to influence others with authoritative personality and rarely questioned industry expertise.
Brand examples: Ferrari, Rolex.
09. The Caregiver
The Caregiver is empathetic, kind and nurturing. Caregiver brands build trust and provide emotional or physical support through their products. They are the opposite of confrontational and would never take a shot at their competition. The goal of the Caregiver is to protect customers and make them feel secure. It’s a healer or a motherly figure who has your best interests at heart.
Brand examples: WWF, Pampers.
10. The Hero
The Hero is a bold and confident personality. This archetype makes the world a better place by being the best. Not in an intimidating way, but by embracing the challenges that come their way and inspire others to work harder.
Brand examples: Nike, FedEx.
11. The Regular Guy
The Regular Guy wants to belong, be friendly and down-to-earth. This archetype is focused on providing something that can appeal to everyone. Unlike other brand archetypes that hold an elitist personality, the regular person just wants to blend in with the rest of the society. It is the most challenging archetype to pull off, because you have to appeal across all demographics. Typically with affordable, inclusive products that target the masses instead of a highly niche segment.
Brand examples: Ikea, Action.
12. The Creator
The Creator is all about innovation and creativity. These brands are nonconformists, they strive to create meaningful products you can’t live without. They empower customers who value self-expression, experimenting with new products and standing out from the crowd. They don’t make things at scale or worry about the cost of production.
Brand examples: Apple, Adobe.
Whether you want a full branding package or an Instagram strategy – I always start with discovery and strategy. This is where a sustainable growth process begins.
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Source header photo of Carl Gustav Jung reading a book: Central Press