Inside: an overview of all 12 brand archetypes, what each archetype represents, and how you might recognize it in the wild
Missed the introduction? Read this primer on brand archetypes to find out how they help and why you need them.
Meet the Hero archetype
The Hero is all about honor, rising to the challenge, and winning. The Hero will sacrifice to right a wrong or to achieve a personal goal.
Where there’s a will, the Hero will find a way. Think military, rescue (firefighters or Red Cross), and athletes (Nike).
Words associated with the Hero archetype
The Hero archetype in branding
Powerful images, strong colors, and bold phrases. The main message is “I dare you” – think Nike’s Just Do It. Rough textures and imagery representing a challenge or showing heroes in action round out the visuals.
Meet the Magician archetype
The Magician is all about transformation, scientific solutions, and magical experiences. The Magician will use her knowledge to transform the world.
If you can dream it, the Magician believes you can achieve it. Think transformation (beauty brands), innovators (Dyson), and the most magical brand of all – Disney.
Words associated with the Magician archetype
The Magician archetype in branding
Words and phrases that promise a change. Before and after images that showcase the transformation. The main message is “anything is possible; let’s find a solution” – much like Tesla.
Meet the Outlaw archetype
The Outlaw is all about rebellion, shaking things up, and destroying the status quo. The Outlaw will bend the rules and raise hell in the fight for her cause.
The Outlaw believes begging for forgiveness is better than asking for permission. Think motorcycle dealers (Harley Davidson), edgy apparel (Diesel), and the rebel everyone’s heard about – Robin Hood.
Words associated with the Outlaw archetype
The Outlaw archetype in branding
Words and phrases that encourage dispensing with the status quo. The main message is “rules are made to be broken” – think Netflix when it first came out. Bold and revolutionary imagery, with or without shock value, rounds out the visuals.
Meet the Explorer archetype
The Explorer is all about freedom to explore the world, self-discovery, and living a fulfilling life. Not interested in challenging the establishment, the Explorer will blaze her own path in pursuit of freedom.
The Explorer believes the whole world is there for her to roam, discover, and ponder. Think outdoorsy brands (REI), space travel (NASA), and the explorers who bring the experience right into your living room – The National Geographic Society.
Words associated with the Explorer archetype
The Explorer archetype in branding
Words and phrases that encourage venturing off the beaten path. The main message is “forge your own path” – think Jeep commercials. Rugged and outdoorsy imagery, often with mountains, rounds out the visuals.
Meet the Sage archetype
The Sage is all about knowledge and seeking the truth. The Sage will collect factual information, analyze it, and teach it to those who listen.
The Sage believes sharing the truth with others is the way to make the world a better place. Think universities, libraries, newspapers, and scientific journals.
Words associated with the Sage archetype
The Sage archetype in branding
Refined, no-fluff marketing materials that make the reader feel intelligent and informed; focus is on research and analysis. The main message is “the truth will set you free.” A neutral or subdued color palette rounds out the visuals.
Meet the Innocent archetype
The Innocent is all about simplicity, happiness, and doing things the right way. The Innocent enjoys the simple pleasures and looks for the silver lining in every situation.
The Innocent believes that happiness can and should be yours. Think Coca-Cola’s commercials, natural and honest beauty brands (Aveeno, Dove), and the kid-at-heart you probably loved – Forrest Gump.
Words associated with the Innocent archetype
The Innocent archetype in branding
Words and phrases promoting positivity, honesty, and happiness. The main message is “keep it simple and create your own paradise.” Peaceful, natural imagery and nostalgic moments, with or without sunshine, round out the visuals.
Meet the Creator archetype
The Creator is all about imagination, self-expression, and thinking outside the box. The Creator will give an artful form to your dreams and ideas.
If you can imagine it, the Creator believes you can create it. Think art supplies (Crayola), creative tools (Adobe), and the little pieces you hate to step on – Lego.
Words associated with the Creator archetype
The Creator archetype in branding
Words and phrases that celebrate originality, uniqueness, and innovation. The main message is “express yourself.” Highly aesthetic imagery and creative use of bold, bright colors round out the visuals.
Meet the Ruler archetype
The Ruler is all about authority, order, and serving as a role model. The Ruler appreciates the finer things in life and doesn’t care to take orders from anyone.
The Ruler believes rules, policies, and systems will help her prevent chaos. Think technology (Microsoft), high-end products and status symbols (Rolls Royce, Rolex), and government leaders.
Words associated with the Ruler archetype
The Ruler archetype in branding
Words and phrases that portray success, empowerment, and safety. The main message is “follow the rules and be the best” – think Mercedes-Benz and its The Best or Nothing tagline. Sophisticated, traditional, and often luxurious imagery rounds out the visuals.
Meet the Caregiver archetype
The Caregiver is all about compassion, generosity, and taking care of people. The Caregiver’s tendency to nurture leads her to bend over backwards to help, protect, or heal someone.
The Caregiver believes it’s important to live a life of selfless service. Think nurses, some charities, NGOs, and non-profit organizations (Salvation Army, Unicef), and the mother of many personal care household-name brands – Johnson & Johnson.
Words associated with the Caregiver archetype
The Caregiver archetype in branding
Words and phrases that appeal to sentimental feelings and emphasize safety, comfort, and security. The main message is “be compassionate, responsible, and helpful” – think Volvo and its Share the Planet campaign. A soft color palette with imagery that evokes happy memories and family time round out the visuals.
Meet the Girl/Guy Next Door archetype
The Girl Next Door is all about authenticity, familiarity, and fitting in. The Girl Next Door will join groups that help her feel accepted.
The Girl Next Door believes in connecting with people and being relatable. Think local events with a homey atmosphere, everyday apparel (Gap, Wrangler), and the best sitcom ever – Friends.
Words associated with the Girl Next Door archetype
The Girl Next Door archetype in branding
Words and phrases are informal and simple, and convey a reliable solution at a good value. The main message is “we are just like you.” Down to earth, wholesome imagery rounds out the visuals.
Meet the Jester archetype
The Jester is all about having fun, living in the moment, and connecting with your inner child. The Jester uses humor and comedy to reframe concepts and present a new perspective.
The Jester believes it’s laughter is the best medicine, and will tell you to lighten up and enjoy life. Think comedians and clowns, a fun take on insurance (Geico), and America’s beloved candy – M&M’s.
Words associated with the Jester archetype
The Jester archetype in branding
Words and phrases that are humorous and witty, with a dose of sarcasm. The main message is “life is a party.” Bright colors with spunky and unconventional imagery round out the visuals.
Meet the Lover archetype
The Lover is all about close relationships, passion, and sensual pleasures. The Lover thrives on intimacy and making others feel special.
The Lover believes in making connections and tapping into people’s desires. Think Hallmark’s #CareEnough campaign, decadent food (Godiva, Haagen-Dazs), and the not-so-secret Victoria’s Secret.
Words associated with the Lover archetype
The Lover archetype in branding
Words and phrases that express passion and evoke strong emotions. The main message is “you are special to me”. Elegant imagery with deep jewel tones, especially reds, and luscious textures round out the visuals.
Over to you
Do you recognize any of these archetypes in yourself? Which ones are part of your business and evident in all your online presence?
As a general rules, successful brands stick to one main archetype, sometimes with a touch of a secondary. It's an integral part of the brand foundation that informs everything from messaging to colors, textures, fonts, and beyond.
Don't have your brand foundation figured out? My Brand Strategy Intensive focuses on exactly that. When you're ready, let's chat and see if it's right for you.