In the first installment of this two-part series, we explore six brand archetypes–Ruler, Creator, Innocent, Sage, Explorer, and Hero–as well as brand archetypes examples to help you decide which accurately depicts your brand.  

Marketers and brand consultants know that one of the characteristics of a successful brand is its ability to strike a chord with its target market. Many a brand owner, however, fail to establish a following because they themselves have not defined their brands clearly enough to attract the right audience.

Enter brand archetypes, recurrent symbols or themes present in human experience that can guide an organisation in developing and managing its brand identity. Carol S. Pearson and Margaret Mark, in their book ‘The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes,’ used the work of psychologist Carl Jung to study how archetypes have been adapted by the world’s most powerful brands to successfully identify with their target markets.

There are 12 brand archetypes: Ruler, Creator, Innocent, Sage, Explorer, Hero, Magician, Outlaw, Jester, Lover, Every Man, and Caregiver. With which do you share personality traits, values, and goals?

wheel featuring 12 brand archetypes

The 12 brand archetypes

1 The Ruler Brand Archetype

The Ruler archetype is a leader, powerful and authoritative. Ruler brands, therefore, exude a commanding presence in their respective industries. As leaders, they help their customers by exercising their power to come up with the most excellent policies, processes, and products.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia as an example of the ruler brand archetype

The Ruler brand archetype: Commonwealth Bank of Australia

And what better example to draw upon than the Commonwealth Bank, a powerhouse brand in the Australian financial services sector. Its ‘Can’ philosophy reveals how its resources, know-how, and influence can get things done. Other examples include car manufacturer Mercedes Benz, software giant Microsoft, and watchmaker Rolex.

2 The Creator Brand Archetype

Does your brand value passion, imagination, and creativity? Then the Creator might be your brand archetype. Creator brands are not only visionaries; they are also inventors, putting their vision into concrete form.

3M as an example of the creator brand archetype

The Creator brand archetype: 3M

The global innovation company 3M is a prime example of this brand archetype. From healthcare to automotive to energy, 3M has combined creativity with science to develop ingenious products that aim to make people’s lives easier in whichever sector they may be. Lego, Crayola, and Adobe are also known Creator brands.

3 The Innocent Brand Archetype

When you think of innocence, traits like purity, simplicity, and optimism come to mind. The Innocent archetypes seek happiness, the kind found in being sincere, doing things the right way, and relishing in simple pleasures.

Dove as an example of the innocent brand archetype

The Innocent brand archetype: Dove

It’s no wonder then that skincare products like Ivory and Dove are trusted by those who prefer clarity and gentleness over other more ‘mundane’ aspects such as colour and fragrance. From logo to packaging to campaigns, these brands remind consumers of their honest-to-goodness persona. Hello Kitty, Kleenex, and Kinder are likewise regarded as Innocent brands.

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4 The Sage Brand Archetype

If your brand is committed to unearthing truth and spreading knowledge, then your brand might be a Sage. Sage brands believe that knowledge is power, so they use their intelligence and wisdom to influence and serve.

CNN as an example of the sage brand archetype

The Sage brand archetype: CNN

Some media companies such as CNN and The Wall Street Journal are representative of this brand archetype as they deliver news and current events to millions of households. The genealogy company is another Sage brand. By collecting personal and non-personal information around the world, helps individuals discover, explore, and share their family history.

5 The Explorer Brand Archetype

The Explorer desires freedom and a fulfilling life, so it sets out to search for new experiences and to learn and grow from them. Adventure and travel enthusiasts fit the description of the Explorer archetype and so do the brands that cater to their lifestyle.

Kathmandu as an example of the explorer brand archetype

The Explorer brand archetype: Kathmandu

Outdoor retailer Kathmandu is one such company. By producing various outdoor clothing and equipment, the brand is able to provide more comfort and confidence to people who want to discover what the world has to offer. The qualities of this archetype are also embodied by adventurous brands like NASA, Subaru, and National Geographic.

6 The Hero Brand Archetype

The goal of every hero is to fight for what he or she believes in. Arming themselves with courage, perseverance, and strength, they face challenges head on and come out as victors. Their triumph inspires others to use determination to achieve success. It is for these reasons that many sports brands such as Nike and Adidas identify with the Hero archetype.

Red Bull as an example of the hero brand archetype

The Hero brand archetype: Red Bull

Energy drink maker Red Bull is another Hero brand. A sponsor of extreme sports events, Red Bull speaks to individuals with highly demanding workloads and schedules such as athletes and blue-collar workers.

Can’t find your brand archetype here?  Get to know the Magician, Outlaw, Jester, Lover, Every Man, and Caregiver in ‘Using Archetypes to Build Your Brand Part 2.’

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