What Are Brand Archetypes?

Archetypes are based on Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s theory that humans have a basic tendency to use symbolism to understand concepts. Jung identified 12 archetypes. Each of these has a powerful identity. Each archetype has its own set of characteristics, values, attitudes and behaviors. The advertising and marketing industry has applied that concept to create brand archetypes. The idea is that any brand can relate to one of these 12 iconic models that help define the brand and breathe life into it. As consumers, we connect with or relate to the personality and aspirations of the brand archetype. They are universal and eternal and they represent our fundamental needs and desires. They bring us closer to the company and its products.

Powerful Marketing and Advertising Tool

What comes to mind when you think of a magician? Someone who can make dreams come true, perform the impossible, create something special and memorable? Now, what if you associate a company or product with those characteristics? Vision, imagination, transformative power… those characteristics can create a powerful emotional connection that can inspire loyalty – and even devotion.
As an example of a company with those attributes, think of Apple. Apple has transformed its customers’ worlds. The powerful, heartfelt tributes to Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs after he died reflected his charisma as well as that of his powerful brand. When you can connect with your customers in such a strong and profound way that they are not only lifelong customers, but they also mourn you when you die, you have definitely struck a chord. That doesn’t come easily or by going through the motions. It happens when your brand is so authentic and strong that it creates a deep, fundamental psychological connection with people. That takes time, but is worth your commitment.
Archetypes cover a broad range of iconic characters and characteristics, everything from the good guy (Hero) to the bad guy (Rebel); from the safety and security of the Caregiver to the wild adventure and excitement of the Explorer, or from the young and pure (Innocent) to the wise or savvy elder statesman (Sage).

Game Plan

Understanding and harnessing the power of archetypes can be like learning a new language. As a vital step, take time to learn about archetypes and think about how they might apply to your business’s brand.
Next steps:
  • Think about your company’s image and how it might relate to these and other archetypes. What are the key images and core values and messages that you want your brand to have? To do this, read about brand archetypes, listen to your clients, and reflect on what feels right for your company. What image rings true for you?
  • This article includes a thorough description of brand archetypes as used in advertising and marketing. Read them and use them as a springboard to developing an archetype that will properly tell your company’s story.
  • In recent years, Jung’s archetypes have been expanded upon by other experts. Learn how archetypes continue to influence brands.
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