The idea of brand archetypes descends from a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst called Carl Jung.
Jung said that within our unconscious, we all recognise a series of archetypes. Some of these are images and symbols, others are character types and personalities. But crucially: they are universal. Everyone ‘gets’ them.
Although Jung died in 1961, this idea has continued to spark interest across lots of different fields. From film and literature to marketing, advertising, and of course, brand theory.
So how can archetypes help brands?
Archetypes help you gather up all the little pieces of your brand into a focused, defined personality.
This helps to give your brand meaning. One that’s simple to define. Simple to communicate. And crucially, simple for your audience to understand.
That’s the thing with brand archetypes. Audiences just ‘get’ them.
From M&S Food’s ‘Lover’ to Apple’s ‘Creator’, you understand what the brand is all about, from the moment it starts communicating.
Creating a lasting impression that keeps customers coming back again and again.
How to define your brand archetype
Finding your brand archetype isn’t about taking an instant personality quiz. It takes groundwork, introspection, and ideally an outside perspective.
That’s why at Delineo, we always start the process with a Brand Discovery Sprint. Here, we talk about all the things that give your brand meaning. From history and founding principles to proof points and testimonials.
We then prioritise and distil the most important ones to find your ‘brand energizer’. This is what we use to identify your archetype.
ESSENCE: Innovation. Originality. Artistry.
END GOAL: Creator brands are innovators. Every day, they dream of solving the world’s problems in bigger and better ways. They also like to facilitate their customers’ creativity: giving them the tools and inspiration they need to build a more colourful world.
EXAMPLE: Monzo: ‘Banking made easy.’
ESSENCE: Service. Selflessness. Warmth.
END GOAL: Caregiver brands really want to look after people. They’re a warm, reassuring presence in a world full of chaos; both thoughtful and thought-provoking. While charities are a natural fit for this archetype, kindly consumer brands can also fall into the category.
EXAMPLE: Bupa: ‘Helping you find healthy.’
ESSENCE: Authority. Excellence. Superiority.
END GOAL: Ruler brands aim to be the best. To be a leading force in their field, and to demonstrate superiority at every turn. Brands of this archetype command respect, and are known for their quality and exclusivity. They’re for the few: not the many.
EXAMPLE: Hyatt Hotels: ‘World of Hyatt.’
ESSENCE: Wit. Fun. Entertainment.
END GOAL: Jester brands want to connect with customers by making them laugh. They’re here for good times only, and don’t take anything too seriously – least of all themselves.
EXAMPLE: Old Spice: ‘The man your man could smell like.’
ESSENCE: Belonging. Relatability. Realism.
END GOAL: Everyman brands want to prove they’re just like you and me. They’re friendly, down to earth, and their honest, homely nature often makes them a trusted choice.
EXAMPLE: Ikea: ‘The Wonderful Everyday.’
ESSENCE: Intimacy. Sensuality. Luxury.
END GOAL: Lover brands want to be desired. To capture their customers’ attention, they describe their wares with a sensual caress, with a focus on aesthetics, tastes, scents, and feelings. These are brands you choose with your heart, not your head.
EXAMPLE: M&S Food: ‘This isn’t just food.’
ESSENCE: Boldness. Spirit. Courage.
END GOAL: This is a brand that wants to leave its mark on the world. By being miles ahead of the competition, and always showing up to save the day.
EXAMPLE: AO World: ‘AO Let’s Go.’
ESSENCE: Disruption. Rebellion. Guts.
END GOAL: Outlaws want to break the mould, tackle convention, and make sure everyone knows about it. They aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers to get their point across.
EXAMPLE: Brewdog: ‘Barnard Castle.’
ESSENCE: Power. Mystery. Imagination.
END GOAL: Magicians make their mark through transformation. Whether it’s turning dreams into reality, or making the impossible accessible, they can do it all. Although they’re always tight-lipped about how they manage it.
EXAMPLE: Red Bull: ‘Gives you wings.’
ESSENCE: Honesty. Simplicity. Optimism.
END GOAL: The Innocent just wants to be one of the good guys. They’re always positive, always honest, and always trying to do the right thing. These brands aim to make others feel good about themselves, and to be a little ray of sunshine in everyday life.
EXAMPLE: Tofoo: ‘Tofu with taste.’
ESSENCE: Freedom. Possibility. Daring.
END GOAL: Explorer brands are catalysts. They use their driven, curious and outdoorsy nature to challenge their audience to reach new heights. Their fundamental aim? Stop conforming. Start exploring.
EXAMPLE: Salomon: ‘Time to play.’
ESSENCE: Knowledge. Expertise. Truth.
END GOAL: The Sage archetype is all about knowledge. Seeking it, finding it, refining it, and sharing it. Brands that value science and learning, facts and figures, intelligence and innovation will find their niche in this archetype.
EXAMPLE: Zanussi: ‘The appliance of science.’