As humans, we have an innate desire to understand ourselves better. That’s why so many theories of personality exist, from Meyers-Briggs to the Enneagram to the zodiac. One of the most famous of these theories is the Jungian character archetypes.
Swedish philosopher Carl Jung believed humans use symbolism to understand larger concepts, including our own personalities—that we subconsciously categorize our fellow humans in order to understand and predict their behavior. He identified twelve major archetypes, or personality types, that show up time and time again. We recognize these archetypes all the time in literature, film, and television, but they’ve recently made their way into marketing as well.
Identifying your brand’s archetype can help you narrow your vision and fine-tune your marketing strategy. Take a look at the twelve archetypes below, and see which one resonates with your brand the most. (Or, for faster results, take Miss Details’ Brand Archetypes Quiz here.)
Which one are you?
Below is an interactive infographic showing what each of the 12 archetypes seek overlayed with real-world examples of companies who embody those archetypes.
Move the vertical bar to the left and right and you can see how they relate.
The Different Brand Archetypes: The
At A Glance: The Hero wants to rise above adversity, to prove their worth, and to make the world a better place. Heroes are bold, confident, and determined, and value honor and integrity.
Examples in Pop Culture: Wonder Woman, Captain America, Maximus (from Gladiator)
Marketing Pros: Hero brands inspire their audience to achieve lofty goals, become their best selves, and improve the world around them.
Marketing Cons: Hero branding may come across as aloof or arrogant and foster unrealistic expectations about your brand.
Brand Examples: Nike, FedEx, the U.S. Marines
At A Glance: The Everyman wants to connect with others and find belonging. Everymen are friendly, relatable, and humble, and value peace and community.
Examples in Pop Culture: Bilbo Baggins, Leslie Knope, Ron Weasley
Marketing Pros: Everyman brands make their audience feel comfortable and welcome, and encourage them to bond over common experiences.
Marketing Cons: Everyman branding risks blending in with the crowd too much and not standing out from their competition.
Brand Examples: IKEA, Home Depot, Gap
At A Glance: The Innocent wants to create safety and happiness for themselves and everyone around them. Innocents are kind, pure, and optimistic, and value loyalty and morality.
Examples in Pop Culture: Tiny Tim, Forrest Gump, Buddy the Elf
Marketing Pros: Innocent brands warm the hearts of their audience through honest, simple, and positive communication.
Marketing Cons: Innocent branding can be seen as naive, overly simplistic, or condescending.
Brand Examples: Coca-Cola, Dove, Johnson & Johnson
At A Glance: The Outlaw wants to fight against authority by breaking established rules and conventions. Outlaws are forceful, rebellious, and charismatic, and value change and nonconformity.
Examples in Pop Culture: Han Solo, Ferris Bueller, Katniss Everdeen
Marketing Pros: Outlaw brands thrill their audience by provoking them to look outside convention for fulfillment.
Marketing Cons: Outlaw branding risks alienating or polarizing audiences by being overly aggressive.
Brand Examples: Harley-Davidson, MTV, Diesel
At A Glance: The Explorer seeks fulfillment through adventure, discovery, and new experiences. Explorers are restless, pioneering, and individualistic, and value curiosity and freedom.
Examples in Pop Culture: Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes, Huckleberry Finn
Marketing Pros: Explorer brands challenge their audience to broaden their horizons through travel, science, and adventuring.
Marketing Cons: Explorer branding may come across as aimless or overly dissatisfied, and may not resonate with a wide enough audience.
Brand Examples: Jeep, Patagonia, Airbnb
At A Glance: The Creator wants to impact the world around them through art and innovation. Creators are visionary, inimitable, and energetic, and value imagination and originality.
Examples in Pop Culture: Willy Wonka, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Remy (from Ratatouille)
Marketing Pros: Creator brands encourage their audience to express themselves by producing something new and exciting.
Marketing Cons: Creator branding can be impractical in that audiences expect each product or service to be even more unique and innovative than the last.
Brand Examples: Apple, Adobe, Lego
At A Glance: The Ruler wants to influence the world through power and authority. Rulers are organized, calculated, and perfectionistic, and value status and order.
Examples in Pop Culture: Cersei Lannister, Walter White, Tony Soprano
Marketing Pros: Ruler brands impress their audience by presenting themselves as an absolute authority in their industry.
Marketing Cons: Ruler branding can alienate consumers by being overly domineering or out of touch.
Brand Examples: Rolex, Mercedes, Louis Vuitton
At A Glance: The Magician wants to bring fantasies to life through wonder and innovation. Magicians are charismatic, mysterious, and idealistic, and value transformation and power.
Examples in Pop Culture: Gandalf, Jay Gatsby, Morpheus (from The Matrix)
Marketing Pros: Magician brands astound their audience through experiences that transcend the mundane.
Marketing Cons: Magician branding can drive businesses to take dangerous risks in pushing the boundaries of possibility.
Brand Examples: Disney, Polaroid, MAC Cosmetics
At A Glance: The Lover wants to develop strong relationships built on emotional connection and intimacy. Lovers are passionate, sensual, and romantic, and value beauty and aesthetics.
Examples in Pop Culture: Scarlett O’Hara, Edward Cullen, Romeo & Juliet
Marketing Pros: Lover brands seduce their audience by establishing an emotional connection and making them feel special.
Marketing Cons: Lover branding can be written off as impractical, superficial, or overly indulgent.
Brand Examples: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva, Tiffany’s
At A Glance: The Caregiver wants to serve and protect others, particularly those who are underprivileged or who can’t speak for themselves. Caregivers are selfless, nurturing, and compassionate, and value loyalty and sacrifice.
Examples in Pop Culture: Samwise Gamgee, John Watson, Patch Adams
Marketing Pros: Caregiver brands nurture their audience through acts of service and altruism and inspire them to give back themselves.
Marketing Cons: Caregiver branding can come across as patronizing or martyrish.
Brand Examples: Toms, WWF, Habitat for Humanity
At A Glance: The Jester wants to bring joy and lightheartedness into the world while still communicating important truths. Jesters are mischievous, irreverent, and disarming, and value laughter and living in the moment.
Examples in Pop Culture: Puck, Timon & Pumbaa, Fred & George Weasley
Marketing Pros: Jester brands make their audience laugh with humor, cleverness, and fun, inviting them to forget their worries and join the party.
Marketing Cons: Jester branding may be seen as disrespectful in certain industries and risks taking jokes too far to the point of causing offense.
Brand Examples: Dollar Shave Club, Manly Bands, M&Ms
At A Glance: The Sage wants to impart their wisdom to others and to improve the world through insight, knowledge, and lived experience. Sages are reflective, analytical, and aloof, and value thoughtfulness and truth.
Examples in Pop Culture: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Albus Dumbledore
Marketing Pros: Sage brands help their audience better understand the world around them through wisdom and truth seeking.
Marketing Cons: Sage branding may be seen as unemotional or overly serious.
Brand Examples: Google, PBS, National Geographic
Once you identify the archetype your brand most aligns with, you can use it to tailor your marketing strategy to better attract and connect with your ideal audience. Keep in mind that your brand may have some aspects of several different archetypes—for instance, Apple’s innovation and technical prowess line up well with the Creator archetype, but its boundless imagination and charismatic founder are reminiscent of the Magician. You don’t need to force your brand into a single box; however, brand archetypes can help you narrow your goals and target your marketing to the people you most want to engage with.
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