woman in white button up shirt and blue stethoscope

The 12 branding archetypes explained: what is archetypal branding and why your business needs one asap

How to speak to your customers on a deeper level of their primary desires, evoke engagement and increase sales? In this blog post we are talking about branding archetypes: what they are, what their meaning is and why knowing them is essential for your business growth.
Table of Contents

Archetypal branding provides a powerful framework for understanding people’s motivations and behaviours.

By understanding the different archetypes and how they affect our decision-making process, you can better target your marketing and messaging to resonate with specific groups of people, and your customers.

In order to find the perfect archetype for your company that can help your business grow you first have to understand what they are. Now is the time to learn! 

What are archetypes in the first place? 

Medusa head art_archetypal branding

Archetypes are primal, universal patterns that evoke deep emotions and associations within us. We see them in our daily lives through personalities found in TV, movies, friends and family.

They are found in our collective unconscious: the shared pool of memories, experiences and knowledge of all humans we have. It consists of symbols we see time and time again in our dreams, stories, and religions which represent different parts of our psyche.

Many decisions are often unconsciously influenced by these archetypes and knowing them can help us understand ourselves and others better. 

What are branding archetypes?

When we talk about archetypes, we are referring to the fact that these patterns exist within all of us.

That means your potential customers will be familiar with certain character types from TV shows or stories they’ve encountered before. You can take advantage of this shared knowledge to understand the different aspects of your business and how they work together.

When you understand archetypes, you can use them to improve your marketing and grow your business. 

3 different brand logos (each in a circle) on the left and a side profile pic on the right (in a circle)_branding archetypes

Branding archetypes are patterns or templates that we, at Brandician, use to create meaning in our branding process.

They give a sense of your brand and its relation to the world. Understanding your company’s archetype allows us to realize your vision, mission and values. It also helps us tell your story in a way that magnetically attracts the right customers, allowing you to differentiate your brand from the competition. 

Are brand archetypes a New-Age thing? 

Archetypes are more ancient than myths themselves. The Greek philosopher Plato and many great thinkers after him spoke of “elemental forms” and the original “categories” or patterns of everything in the material world.

Carl G. Jung portrait_branding archetypes
Carl G. Jung 

Carl G. Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and one of Sigmund Freud’s most famous students, conveyed this idea to the modern world. He suggested that archetypes are part of the collective unconscious and are genetically inherited.

In other words archetypes are the software of the psyche. Not only do we recognize archetypes, they strongly resonate with us because we are programmed for this.

Archetypal symbols have been used in many fields: literature, art, architecture and fashion design. They are found everywhere because they represent universal human thoughts and emotions. Although there are thousands of different archetypes, Jung narrowed them down to 12 fundamental ones that symbolize basic human reasoning, values and personality. 

How will knowing your archetype get you more sales?  

Archetypes can be a great tool for getting into the minds of your customers and understanding what motivates them. 

A bunch of paper money moulded into a brain shape_branding archetpes

Branding archetypes speak to your customers’ primary motivations that ultimately lead to engagement and trust, which is the foundation of a deep and lasting relationship between your brand and your consumers.

Each of the 12 archetypes has a different meaning, affecting one’s decision making process in different ways. The archetypes are always behind the scenes whether it be a follow on social media, a purchase of your product or service.

Knowing which archetype your ideal customer identifies with and which archetype is closest to your company’s mission, you can create marketing material and branding that resonates with them while remaining authentic to yourself.

When your brand  focuses on one archetype (reflected coherently in your words, colors and shapes used, etc.) and uses it consistently across all of your platforms, your customers will instantly recognize it and accept it as their own over time. This archetype is reflected through your choice of words, colors, and shapes (think of companies like Apple, Nike, and Google).

Archetypal messages are deeply ingrained in all of us, meaning you can cut through the noise faster and more efficiently by using them as your main marketing logic. It’s undoubtedly your competitive advantage!  

a side profile pic on the left (in a circle), connecting with only 3 one out of three logos (in a circle) on the right_branding archetypes

To make it a bit more comprehensive, all 12 archetypes are organized according to motivational theory*. Basic human instincts (drives) can be grouped into 4 clusters, positioned along 2 axes (see image below). They serve like a compass going from order/stability/control, change/risk/mastery, independence/self-actualization and to belonging/community.

This means most of us want to be liked and feel belonged, but at the same time go our own way as individuals. These are our profound human desires, pulling us in opposite directions. Yet, one prevails, either because there is unfulfilled yearning for it or familiarity.

This is how we are wired, and your customers think no differently. The sooner you embrace that and start incorporating it into your business strategy, the sooner you will start attracting your ideal audience.  

12 archetypes divided into 4 clusters_branding archetypes
*Based on the work of Abraham Maslow, Eric Erickson, Robert Kegan, and Ken Wilbur, as mentioned in the book by Margaret Mark & Carol S. Pearson “The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes”

Identifying and harnessing your brand’s archetype is the most powerful way to reach its full potential.

How to find your brand’s archetype: 

Find your brand’s archetype and define your marketing strategy by comparing the descriptions beneath with what your company has to offer or your company’s promise.

1. Choose your main motivator: 

Ask yourself: what are you promising your customers? 

A. Self actualization, independence, fulfillment

You promise to fulfil a longing for a place where your customers can feel completely at home. Your product/service offers them the chance to re-experience a wondrous moment in their lives.

man showing photo of him_archetypal branding

B. Social belonging, connection, community

With your product/service, customers will be able to connect, interact and belong in a community. At the same time, your company will express a critical sense of likability, popularity, and connectedness.

hands formed together with red heart paint_archetypal branding

C. Order, stability, structure

Your customers will be able to gain stability, security and order from your product/service. They will find satisfaction in a stable environment that your company offers. 

a side profile photo of a pilot in his uniform, wearing hat and sunglasses _archetypal branding

D. Achievement, legacy, change.

Your business addresses your customers’ need to take a stand against restrictive and harmful reality. This allows them to grow as individuals in a space where they can rise to challenges, take risks and break the rules. 

a person extending their arm and holding an umbrella in front of a yellow wall_archetypal branding

2. Select your Archetype

Once you’ve chosen between the 4 motivators, see which one of the 3 archetypes in this category (see below) best describes your brand’s mission:

Self-actualization, independence, fulfilment

Innocent

Brandician Archetype icon Innocent

Live in peace and harmony

Offers a positive approach to life. Shows desire for simple purity, goodness, happiness, faith and optimism. 

Explorer

Brandician Archetype icon

Forge your own path

Helps people achieve freedom and independence. Offers them a way to find out who they are through exploration and adventure.

Sage

Brandician Archetype icon Sage 2

Find the truth to be free

Uses information, intelligence and analysis to find the truth and understand the world ultimately helping people develop themselves. 

Social belonging, connection, community

Everyman

blank passport photo within a gray square_everyman archetype

Everyone is created equal

Accessible to everyone. Sincere, helpful and genuine. Everyman helps everyone to feel belonged, get along with others, treats everyone with dignity and respect. 

Lover

a darker pink heart shape in a lighter pink square_lover archetype

All you need is love

Helps to find love or friendship. Shows appreciation to others. Lover allows one to become more attractive, encourages passion and romance.

Jester

green smile emoji in a yellow coloured square_jester archetype

Enjoy life and have fun doing it

Entertains people with playfulness and spontaneity. Jester shows how to live in the present with joy, being accepted and adored by others. 

Order, stability, structure

Caregiver

apricot coloured cross in a lighter coloured square_caregiver archetype

Treat your neighbour as yourself

Compassionate, generous and caring for others in daily life. The caregiver protects others from harm and contributes to a harmonious society.

Creator

darker green artist palette in a lighter green square_creator archetype

Turn ideas into reality

Makes something valuable, lasting, original and innovative. The creator helps people in forming a vision and means of self-expression.

Ruler

a soft pink crown in a darker pink red square_ruler archetype

Prevent chaos by taking control

Represented by a strong sense of power and authority. The influential and dominant Ruler shows leadership and takes responsibility by obtaining control.

Achievement, legacy, change

Hero

dark blue trophy within a blue square_hero archetype

Improve the world

Ambitious, focused and powerful. The Hero does not avoid challenges. He uses his mastery to improve the world, prove his worth through courageous and difficult actions.

Rebel

a dark orange lighting in a lighter orange square_rebel archetype

Rules were made to be broken

Represented by the rebellious nonconformism, the rule-breaking and revolutionary Rebel wants to destroy what is not working for them or society.

Magician

a dark purple star in a light purple square_magician archetype

Make dreams come true

Magician helps people create changes in their lives and contributes to the achievement of dreams by transforming undesired situations to the enchanting ultimate goal. 

Did you find your brand’s archetype or are you not quite sure which one fits your business best?

Let us guess: you found your business in more than one description?

Why can’t you be all of them?

You probably selected more than one archetype. That’s completely normal, since all 12 are embodied in us, but it’s important to remember that you (your business) can’t be everything for everyone. Trying to appeal to a broad audience can dilute your message and confuse your customers. Instead, focus on the archetype that is most relevant to your company and target that one with laser precision. Archetypes provide a framework for understanding people’s motivations and behaviours, so use them to your advantage!

assorted fedora hat lot_brandician_archetypal branding

However, it’s not as easy to pinpoint the right archetype for your own business straight away even though there are many branding archetype quizzes out. Your core message is usually hidden between the layers of your product/service descriptions and a quick archetypal description match doesn’t give you any practical advice on how to weave that into your marketing strategy.

You naturally want as many people as possible to know what your company has to offer and limiting yourself to a specific audience seems like a counter-productive business move. We can guarantee you this is not the case. You need someone from the outside to view your company in an objective, yet understanding way and strategically examine every part of your business, so they can bring it all together with a strong, clear message.

Brandician’s team is here to help: we have years of experience crafting marketing campaigns and messaging that resonate with our clients and their customers. Let us help you select your brand archetype and start with the branding process.

It just works, simple as that!       

We’ve been using this powerful approach for understanding ourselves and our clients for years. Without fail, it works like a charm every time. 

Check our success stories or contact us to learn more!

P.S. Can you guess Brandician’s archetype?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related posts

One click away from a healthier brand

Sign up and we’ll support you with all information you need to take a good care of your branding. 

What have you been searching for?