Brand Archetypes The Brand Personality Framework
Alluring Allusions: Unlocking Brand Personality Through Archetypes
What if I told you there was a scientific framework that allowed you to peer into the soul of your brand? A fascinating lens that enabled you to decode personality and truly connect with your customers on a subconscious level?
It almost sounds too good to be true. Yet this mystical portal exists—and it’s known as brand archetypes.
Grounded in psychology, brand archetypes tap into universal patterns wired deep in the collective unconscious. These primordial personalities have the power to forge primal bonds and emotional relationships between brands and buyers.
Intrigued? Read on as we unveil the basics of brand archetypes, exploring their rich history, scientific relevance and growing necessity in modern brand strategy. We’ll also dive into the concept of the “collective unconscious” and how it shapes our innate understanding of these archetypes over time.
Let’s kickstart the adventure…
Twelve Archetypes: The Cast of Characters Wired Into Our DNA
These twelve archetypes represent primordial personalities—innate patterns and behaviors encoded into our collective unconscious from the dawn of time. Like a dramatis personae in the play we call life, we encounter these archetypal characters over and over in the stories we tell, the media we consume, the people we meet.
Let’s pull back the curtain and meet the twelve archetypes that reside within us all:
The outlaw lives outside the rules and has an insatiable desire for freedom. We see glimpses of the rebellious outlaw in childhood, through defiant teens or carefree bikers. Outlaws value liberation over everything and blaze their own path.
Key Traits: Rebellious, defiant, carefree, adventurous
Pop Culture Icons: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Brand Example: Harley Davidson
The magician lives in a world of hidden power, seeking mastery over the fabric of reality. We recognize magicians as sorcerers or sages with access to occult knowledge. They value power, transformation, and protecting their secrets above all else.
Key Traits: Wise, mystical, visionary, transformative
Pop Culture Icons: Gandalf (Lord of the Rings), Professor Dumbledore (Harry Potter)
Brand Example: Disney
The hero rises in times of crisis, fighting injustice and oppression. Heroes appear as protectors and saviors, driven by duty to vanquish evil. They value strength, courage, and nobility in pursuit of victory.
Key Traits: Courageous, just, protective, competitive
Pop Culture Icons: Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Wonder Woman
Brand Example: Nike
The lover lives for passion, romance and intimacy. Lovers value beauty, sensuality and relationships above all else. We recognize lovers as dreamers, optimists and partners devoted to the object of their affection.
Key Traits: Passionate, intimate, romantic, devoted
Pop Culture Icons: Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Rose (Titanic)
Brand Example: Victoria’s Secret
The jester exists to have fun. Jesters value humor, irony and lightheartedness in all situations. We know jesters as tricksters, pranksters or fools whose primary function is to make us laugh.
Key Traits: Playful, funny, ironic, joyful
Pop Culture Icons: Ace Ventura, Deadpool
Brand Example: Old Spice
The everyman represents the common person who values belonging. Everymen are our neighbors, co-workers and peers—humble people seeking safety within a tribe or group. Their ordinariness makes them relatable.
Key Traits: Humble, kind, relatable, friendly
Pop Culture Icons: Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings), Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit)
Brand Example: IKEA
How Brand Archetypes Forge Emotional Connections
A brand’s archetype shapes how it communicates and connects on an emotional level. These primordial patterns act as a blueprint for brand personality—how a brand speaks, acts, looks and feels.
Brands that strategically align to an archetype enjoy stronger emotional bonds and higher loyalty from customers. Their brand identity rings true and touches something deeper within us.
Let’s look at how brands harness archetypes to forge intimate connections:
The outlaw archetype pulses through Harley Davidson’s brand identity. They embody the outlaw’s craving for liberation and open roads. With their rugged designs and touring bike events, Harley built a community around escapism and freedom.
Outlaws value experiences over possessions, rebellion over conformity. By adopting the outlaw archetype early on, Harley Davidson tapped into a primal desire for escape hardwired into us all.
Nike brand identity flows directly from the hero archetype. Their slogan “Just Do It” calls everyday people to realize their full potential. Heroes value achievement through courage and strength—a tribal elder inspiring the village to triumph.
By celebrating athlete-heroes, Nike motivates all of us to push past self-imposed limits. They speak to the inner hero within us all, ready to answer duty’s call and fight for victory.
Coca-Cola built an empire aligning itself to the innocent archetype. Their contoured bottles and Santa Claus ads spark nostalgic memories of childhood wonder.
Innocents value purity, simplicity and childlike joy. Coca-Cola promises a return to innocence—a chance to taste that magic again with the bubbly sweetness of youth.
When brands like Harley, Nike and Coca-Cola adopt an archetypal blueprint, they resonate on an unconscious, emotional level. Their brand identity taps our collective memories to forge intimate connections.
Key Takeaway: Connect your brand with a core archetype to unlock deeper levels of customer intimacy and loyalty.
Aligning Brand Archetypes and Business Strategy
An archetype breathes life into a brand, shaping its personality on a primal level. But for full impact, the archetype must sync with the brand’s strategy and positioning.
When archetype and strategy lock together, brands enjoy an unstoppable competitive edge. Let’s examine archetype alignment through some stellar examples:
As a caring, nurturing brand, Dove adopted the caregiver archetype early on. Their strategy then centered on providing quality skincare to make women feel more comfortable and confident.
The caregiver archetype allowed Dove to speak authentically to women. By leveraging kindness and understanding, Dove products deliver on their brand promise to care for women’s needs.
Red Bull exploded as a high energy drink for adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers. As an adventurous explorer brand, the company sponsored extreme sporting events and dangerous stunts.
The bold explorer archetype fueled their positioning as an intense, daring drink that pushes the limits. Red Bull promised drinkers the explorer’s hunger for excitement and new challenges.
As a safety-centric car company, Volvo aligned itself to the caregiver archetype to match its brand strategy. Their focus on protection and family security fit perfectly with the giving, caring nature of the caregiver.
By adopting the caregiver as its archetype, Volvo infuses its brand identity with warmth and compassion for customers. For Volvo, safety flows naturally from a place of nurture and protection rather than control.
Key Takeaway: Choose an archetype that aligns both your brand personality and overall business strategy for maximum impact.
Overcoming Hurdles with Brand Archetypes
Brand archetypes promise personality and connection, but implementation brings challenges. Let’s tackle the common sticking points:
Misalignment of Archetype and Brand
Without strategic alignment, an archetype rings hollow. The chosen archetype must sync with the brand’s positioning and business strategy for authenticity.
Tip: Analyze your brand’s ethos and goals before selecting an archetype. Find the one that complements both your brand personality and overall strategy.
Relying on Archetype Stereotypes
It’s tempting to lean on an archetype’s stereotypical traits. But nuance and specificity will make the archetype truly yours.
Tip: Customize the archetype with unique brand attributes and messaging while retaining its core universal traits.
Inconsistency in Messaging and Experience
Brands struggle with archetype consistency across touchpoints. Messaging and experiences should reinforce the singular chosen archetype.
Tip: Audit communications and interactions to ensure alignment with your archetype. Identify any weak links breaking the chain.
Disconnection from Target Audience
An archetype only resonates when it speaks to the audience’s values, self-image and aspirations. Without this bond, it falls flat.
Tip: Validate your archetype selection through customer insights to guarantee relevance. Adjust if needed to connect with your core audience.
With foresight and commitment to alignment, brands can leverage archetypes to build iconic brand personalities that inspire lasting customer devotion.
The Power of Archetypes in Brand Building
Brand archetypes hold transformational power – when harnessed strategically. These primordial personalities speak directly to our subconscious, allowing brands to forge deep connections through shared meaning and resonance.
Yet many brands fail to realize the full potential of archetypes in brand building. They relegate archetypes to tactical touchpoints rather than embedding them in their core ethos and brand strategy. This diminishes archetypes’ ability to shape a differentiated, magnetic brand personality.
To build iconic brands that inspire devotion, archetypes must permeate the entire brand experience – not just skin deep. This demands commitment and consistency in bringing the archetype to life across communications, interactions and brand expressions.
When an archetype and brand align at their cores – fusing shared values and attributes – the payoff is immense. The brand taps into powerful shared associations, symbolism and meaning to stitch itself into the customer’s self-identity.
So whether you are Rebel, Hero, Lover or Sage, know thy archetype – and let it guide your brand personality, narrative and experience. This alchemy of strategy and symbolism crafts brands that resonate at the deepest level – and inspire lasting allegiance from those who see themselves reflected in the archetype’s mirror.
Greetings! I’m Jack, founder of Scythos – where I’ve helped over 50 brands transform into unforgettable identities and stunning digital presences. As a brand strategist and creative consultant, I have over a decade of experience taking brands from wallflowers to the centre of attention.
Looking to get your branding noticed and your business thriving? Reach out anytime to brainstorm creative strategies for making your brand impossible to ignore. I love collaborating with passionate entrepreneurs to conceptualize innovative ways to connect with their audiences.
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