Which brand archetype are you? A hero, a care giver, an everyman, an adventurer or perhaps an outlaw? And how can knowing your brand archetype help you? Well, if you can work out which brand archetype your business embodies, you’re on the path to better communication and connection with your customers. Plus you could save yourself a lot of money! Because branding agencies charge a small fortune to work out which brand archetypes your target audience are most likely to respond to. Know Your Brand Archetype

All successful brands have a strong sense of identity that’s in tune with the hopes and aspirations of their customers. Finding your brand identity - especially as a small business - can be difficult. Knowing your brand archetype helps to shortcut the process.

Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place. ~ David Ogilvy

What Is A Brand Archetype?

The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung introduced the concept of archetypes more than half a century ago. An "archetype" refers to an inherited idea or mode of thought that is present in the unconscious of the individual. In everyday language, "archetype" is most commonly used to mean "a perfect example of something." More recently, the leadership consultant, speaker and author Dr. Carol Pearson has built out Jung's work into a body of research that examines archetypal attributes within organisations that are part of a work culture and shared purpose.

Pearson's research has concluded that in a business context, there are 12 individual brand archetypes. Each is associated with specific motivations, values, drivers and attributes. The 12 archetypes are: Sage, Innocent, Explorer, Ruler, Creator, Caregiver, Magician, Hero, Outlaw, Lover, Jester and Everyman.

1. The Sage (Scholar or Teacher)

Think Yoda in Star Wars or Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter. The sage seeks truth and wants to find the wisdom in every situation. Their biggest fears are being ignorant and being misled. At best they’re wise, articulate and open-minded, at worst they are pedantic, manipulative and adopt a know-it-all stance.

Sage brands promise wisdom, expertise and learning which mean they often make use of higher level vocabulary and symbolic imagery. They trust their customers to grasp difficult ideas and understand intellectual in-jokes. They should avoid becoming either dumbed-down or patronising.

Sage customers believe that knowledge comes from growth, and are constantly looking for new sources of information. They like adverts that challenge them to think in a new way.

Examples: CNN, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Channel, Neil Patel.

2. The Innocent (Dreamer or Romantic)

Think Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz and Maria in The Sound Of Music. The innocent’s core desire is to be free, happy, protected and safe. Their biggest fear is to do something wrong and be punished for it. At their best they are optimistic, honest and compassionate while at their worst, they’re naive and childish.

Innocent brands promise simplicity and promote themselves as pure and trustworthy. They often use natural, unfussy imagery. The worst thing that can happen to an innocent business is that corruption or deception is discovered.

The innocent customer prefers straight-talking, gimmick-free advertising, and is naturally drawn to optimistic brands. Heavy-handed or guilt-inducing advertising is likely to repulse them.

Examples: Dove, Coca Cola, of course Innocent Smoothies and Kim Garst.

3. The Explorer (The Seeker or Wanderer)

Think Indiana Jones, Captain James T. Kirk and Erin Brokovitch. The explorer craves adventure, wants to discover the world and is on a quest for meaning. They fear conformity, boredom and inner emptiness. At their best, they’re independent, ambitious and curious, while at their worst, they’re restless, dissatisfied and flaky.

Explorer brands promise freedom and promote themselves as a way of helping their customers to experience the new and unknown. An explorer brand would be horrified if it came across as rigid or corporate.

Explorer customers embrace brands that promote freedom and self-discovery, especially those that invite the customer to embark on a journey with them.

Examples: The North Face, Wild Frontiers, Red Bull and Natalie Sissons.

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4. The Ruler (King, Queen or Leader)

Think Michael Corleone in The Godfather and Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. The ruler is driven by their desire for power, control and respect. They’re most afraid of chaos and being overthrown. A good ruler has strong personal values, and maintain disciplined, goal orientated ideals whilst a bad ruler can get caught up in the outward trappings of success and power, and be susceptible to corruption.

Ruler brands promise power, often spreading the idea that they are the lead in their field. Their image is solid, polished and often very ‘masculine’. A ruler brand would suffer greatly by being perceived as weak, or by having to concede defeat publicly to a rival company. Roger Federer embodies the ruler brand for Rolex.

Ruler customers are naturally dominant and don’t appreciate patronising or ‘dumbed down’ advertising. They value adverts that reinforce their feelings of power and stability.

Examples: Rolls Royce, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Melanie Duncan and me.

5. The Creator (Artist or Dreamer)

Think Jo March in Little Women and Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City. The creator has creativity and imagination in spades, and finds their inspiration in the most unlikely of places. Driven by the desire to produce exceptional and enduring works, they are most afraid of mediocrity. At their best, they’re imaginative, expressive and innovative while at their worst they can be overly perfectionist, prima donnas and narcissistic.

Creator brands promise authenticity, innovation and creativity. The worst thing for a creator brand is to be perceived as inauthentic or a ‘sell-out’.

Creator customers shun often advertising but may enjoy experimental, boundary-pushing or novel adverts. They can be a difficult category to appeal to, but successful creator brands often develop a devout fan base.

Examples: Apple, Lego, Canon and Tara Gentile.

6. The Care Giver (Nurturer or Parent)

Think Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey and Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. The caregiver is driven by their need to protect and care for others, while their worst fear is a lack of appreciation for their sacrifices. On the positive side they are compassionate, generous, supportive and patient. But on the negative, they find it difficult to say no, have a tendency to burnout and martyrdom.

Caregiver brands promise protection, safety and support to their customers. The worst thing that can happen to a care giver business is that their products are shown to be harmful or exploitative e.g. the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol crisis.

Caregiver customers find aggressive advertising a massive turn-off, which is why emotionally-driven adverts often strike a chord. This is why Jessica Alba makes a point of sharing what drove her to set up The Honest Company.

Examples: SMA, Johnson & Johnson, Toms Shoes and Nikki Elledge Brown.

7. The Magician (Shaman or Visionary)

Think Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings or Merlin. The magician wants to understand the universe and their place in it. They’re visionary charismatic and inspirational. They fear unintended negative consequences of their exploration. At their best, they’re driven and charismatic with a capacity for healing, while at their worst they’re manipulative, dishonest and disconnected from reality.

Magician brands promote themselves as the gateway to transformative knowledge and experience. They focus on the individual rather than the group, flattering the customer by telling them to trust their own instincts (and make the purchase). Magician techniques are often misleadingly used in the online marketing world, promising a transformation they don’t actually deliver.

Magician customers need to feel they can grow wiser or influence people by using your products. Advertising should be as imaginative and inspiring as possible.

Examples: Disney, Apple, Oprah and Tony Robbins.

8. The Hero (Superhero or Warrior)

Think of all the action heroes in films and Simba in The Lion King. The hero’s primary motivation is to prove their worth, while their greatest fears are weakness and failure. They are often workaholics. The hero is strong, brave, relentless and able but in shadow form are arrogant, aggressive and ruthless, with a tendency to pick unwise battles.

Hero brands promise success, victory and promote themselves as superior to their competition. The very worst thing that can happen to a hero business is that a competitor is rated more highly or is proven to offer better value. Hero brands often use sporting legends in their advertising e.g. Roger Federer, Michael Jordan and Thierry Henry. While Tiger Woods lost a number of endorsements following allegations of sex scandals when he became a fallen hero.

Hero customers value quality and efficiency. They like to think their consumer choices will put them ahead of everyone else, which is why they aren’t persuaded by cute or funny adverting.

Examples: Nike, BMW, Gillette, the Marines and Lewis Howes.

9. The Outlaw (Rebel or Revolutionary)

Think Robin Hood, Zorro and Maverick in Top Gun. The outlaw is an unconventional thinker whose aim is to shock, disrupt, and change what they see isn’t working. Their greatest fear is being ineffectual and powerless. At their best, they’re brave and free-spirited but at their worst, they can be destructive, reckless, unstable and nihilistic. In the US election, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are brilliant examples – and polar opposites - of outlaw brands.

Rebel brands promise revolution, positioning themselves as an alternative to the mainstream in an effort to stand out. Successful rebel brands tend to have a cult -like following. The worst thing for a rebel brand is to be bought out or become too popular. (The latter tendency needs watching because the aim is business is to make money).

Rebel customers appreciate the unconventional and forcefully reject the status quo. They are likely to value unique or shocking content.

Examples: Harley Davidson, Virgin, Urban Outfitters and Chris Guillebeau.

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10. The Lover (Dreamer or Idealist)

Think Marianne Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. The lover lives to experience harmony in their relationships, work and environment, making them excellent team builders. They fear rejection, being unloved and alone. They hate disharmony. At their best they’re charming, charismatic, friendly and fun, but at their worst, they tend towards being people-pleasing, obsessive and shallow.

Lover brands promise passion, promoting themselves as glamourous, with an emphasis on sensual pleasure. Advertising will offer a sensory experience e.g. The White Company catalogue allows you to smell the perfumes. Lover brands tend to be high-end in order to cultivate an air of mystery.

Lover customers value the aesthetic appearance of goods and services. This is why they’re drawn to premium brands that will make them seem more attractive to others. This is what draws Melanie Duncan’s customers to her online products.

Examples: Victoria’s Secret, The White Company, NARS and Danielle LaPorte.

11. The Jester (The Fool or Comedian)

Think Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler in almost anything. The Jester lives life in the moment, using their wit and humour to lighten a situation. They fear boredom above all else. At their best, they’re witty, magnetic, impish and original, while at worst they can be sarcastic and hurtful.

Jester brands promise entertainment, which is why they’re often targeted at children and young people who appreciate their silliness. A jester brand would hate to get caught up in a bitter lawsuit.

It’ll come as no surprise that jester customers find regular advertising boring, but love anything unusual and quirky – especially adverts that make fun of the seriousness of life.

Examples: Ben and Jerry’s, Taco Bell, Skittles and Gary Vaynerchuk.

12. The Everyman (Regular Guy/ Girl or Good Guy)

Think George Bailey in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars.’ The everyman wants to fit in and feel a part of something. The everyman is down to earth, lacking in pretension and faces facts as they are. Their greatest fear is standing out from the crowd or being alone. At their best, they’re friendly, pragmatic and reliable, while at their worst they lack substance and are suggestible.

Everyman brands promise a sense of belonging, taking take pride in their down-to-earth ethos. Their image is honest and dependable. That’s why the jewellery retailer, PANDORA chose Tess Daley, host of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, to be its UK brand ambassador. Tess is the embodiment of the everywoman.

The everyman appreciates quality and dependability in their brands. They prefer the familiar to the strange, and will emotionally invest in brands that they trust. The retailer John Lewis is an excellent example of an everyman brand that uses flashes of the magician in its Christmas advertising to draw the customer in.

Examples: John Lewis, Home Depot, Gap, Trader Joes and Amy Porterfield.

What’s Your Brand Archetype?

Just from these few examples, you can see that our favourite brands embody more than one brand archetype. Apple is both a Creator and Magician brand. While Virgin is an Outlaw brand with a strong Jester element.

Which of these brand archetypes do you most identify with? Which brand archetype is your company most like?

Think about your company’s image and how your customers interact with it. Which is the most suitable and compelling brand archetype for your business?

[callout]CLICK HERE to start planning your 2017 budget and map out your financial plan for the year ahead.[/callout]

Join The Conversation

Question: Which brand archetype does your business most embody? Knowing this, how could you change the way you brand and market your business to better personify this? I love reading your feedback so please do share your insights in the comments box below.

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I’m Denyse Whillier, a London based business coach and consultant. I guide entrepreneurs from across the globe to achieve profitable, scaleable growth and create businesses that are Built To Succeed™. Built To Succeed™ is my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO, 25 years’ experience at senior leadership and managerial level and training at Cranfield School of Management, the UK's leading business school. It's this background that sets me apart and helps my clients to get BIG results.

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