What is a Brand Archetype? And Why do you Need One?

Does your business have a brand? And furthermore, does your brand have core values and a purpose that ultimately translate into something that feels like a personality? If so, you’re oh-so-close to establishing a brand archetype.

A brand archetype embodies the key images, values, reasons and benefits offered by your brand.

Carl Jung, founder of Analytical Psychology, discovered that humans have a preference (and tendency) to use symbols to understand concepts…and that those symbols are largely universal, transcendent of time, place and circumstance.

In other words, regardless of age, social status, religion, culture or native language, people understand archetypes. A mother nurtures. A father protects. A snake bites. A doctor heals. These are archetypes that are widely accepted, recognised and understood.

When your brand carries a strong archetype, people will find your brand more relatable, because they know what to expect and can easily make decisions about whether or not they want to interact with it. They will establish deeper connections with it, because the archetype will conjure up old memories and emotions, making the relationship feel more trustworthy and credible. A reputation will be established early on, thanks to the associations your audience will make with the archetype.

So what will your brand archetype look like?

First, there are four main categories from which to choose:

  • Change
  • Group Belonging
  • Order
  • Self-Knowledge

Which one of these best describes your brand?

Now, use the following descriptions to choose the specific archetype that will work best to personify your brand:

  • Under Change, there’s the Outlaw and the Hero. The Outlaw, otherwise known as the Rebel, challenges the status quo and represents your audience’s anger at how institutions have made circumstances worse, rather than better. The Hero thrives on overcoming challenges and displays admirable courage in the face of danger and adversity.
  • Riding the line between Change and Group Belonging is the Magician, who is masterfully influential, and therefore makes transformations (that the average consumer would struggle to make on her own) on a regular basis.
  • The Jester and the Lover share the category of Group Belonging, with the Jester being an expert at making even the most routine task entertaining or enjoyable, and the Lover being a master at the perpetual pursuit (and achievement) of satisfaction.
  • Between Group Belonging and Order is the Every Person, who is easy-to-please, but expects all the basic needs and wants of the average man to be met…for every person.
  • Under Order are the Caregiver and the Ruler. The Caregiver is selfless, compassionate and always focussed on helping others, whilst the Ruler oversees and inspires people to take charge of their lives and to contribute to the society they live in.
  • The Creator lies between Order and Self-Knowledge and inspires the use of imagination to combat the commonplace.
  • Within the category of Self-Knowledge are contained the Innocent and the Sage. The Innocent is childlike, trusting, optimistic and spontaneous, whilst the Sage is focussed on truth, choice and how both can free the mind.
  • And finally, the Explorer sits halfway between Self-Knowledge and Change by ‘taking the road less travelled’ simply for the thrill of the journey, or to ‘break the norm’ just for the sake of doing it differently.

What are you to do with this information? After choosing the brand archetype that exemplifies the characteristics of your brand, use its qualities to create something that speaks to your target audience in a language they will understand, and that authentically conveys what your brand is offering. This could be a character, or an idea that you communicate through your visual brand identity.

I trust that these brand archetypes will help you along your path, as you strive to fully define your brand and how people will perceive it. Universal symbols, or archetypes, will aid you in communicating efficiently and effectively with your ideal clients—to save valuable time, to communicate without ambiguity, to shape your reputation and to make your brand more genuine and trustworthy.

Do you have a brand archetype? And do you feel that it properly represents the message you’re trying to convey? I’d love to hear what it is in the comments below…if you are unsure, describe your business below and let’s see if we can work it out together.

Have a beautiful day, beautiful you.