Harnessing The Power Of Your Brand Archetype

Brands are connectors. Connectors between businesses and customers. Connectors to meaning and value. Connectors between customers themselves.

So how do you ensure that this connection is as strong as it can be? It starts by uncovering the soul of your brand. Claiming its category distinction. Telling a timeless but modern story in a way that taps into universal feelings and instincts. Living the promise of this story inside and across your entire organization.

But what’s the thread that ensures your connection grabs and keeps peoples’ attention? It’s the one that builds meaning, compels “this is the brand for me” thinking and creates competitive insulation in our increasingly crowded categories.


Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, believed that archetypes are the “models of people, behaviors, and/or personalities.” These archetypes have been called the “heartbeat of enduring brands” because they evoke feelings and reflect how well a brand actually knows itself. As Margaret Mark & Carol S. Pearson wrote in their book The Hero and the Outlaw, “brands [become] phenomenally valuable not only because of their innovative features or benefits but also because these properties had been translated into powerful meanings.”

Archetypes help us understand what motivates an individual, and they work in a similar way for a brand. When revealed — and put into action — these universal patterns of behavior can help individuals and companies stay true to their mission, strengthen their promise and foster loyalty with all stakeholders.

Brands reflect what we stand for. So it’s axiomatic that aligning and embodying your archetype will guide your brand’s development and build emotional connections with your organization — in subtle, yet powerful ways.


While no size ever really fits all — here are those 12 archetypes Jung identified, as well as some of the brands who personify them:



1. The Innocent. With a core desire to experience paradise, The Innocent cherishes its goal of happiness. “Free to be you and me,” is The Innocent’s mantra, and related brands include Dove, Coca-Cola and Ben & Jerry’s.


2. The Explorer. As the name suggests, The Explorer seeks to find fulfillment through discovery and new experiences. “Don’t fence me in,” The Explorer says. Red Bull, North Face and Jeep are ‘Explorer’ brands.


3. The Sage. By utilizing intelligence and analysis, The Sage helps our world gain wisdom and insight. After all, “The truth will set you free.” Sage-like brands include Google, Barnes & Noble and The Discovery Channel.


4. The Hero. All heroes help to improve the world. They are warriors, idealists and brave in nature. The Hero’s motto is, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” making it easy to assign the U.S. Army, Nike and BMW as ‘Hero’ brands.


5. The Outlaw. If something doesn’t work, destroy it. The Outlaw is edgy, rebellious, powerful and sometimes even feared. Driven by risk and mastery, The Outlaw proclaims, “Rules are meant to be broken.” Think Red Bull, Harley Davidson, Diesel.


6. The Magician. By understanding the fundamental laws of the way things work, The Magician makes dreams come true — “It can happen!” Motivated by imagination, cleverness and change, today’s Magician brands include Apple, Disney and Intel.



7. The Regular Guy/Gal. Truth is, there’s nothing “regular” about The Regular Guy/Gal. They’re not ordinary or commonplace, they’re just equal and honest. Known as a practical, straight-shooter, The Regular Guy/Gal lives by the notion of “All men and women are created equal.” Wrangler Jeans, RXBAR and IKEA can be identified as ‘Regular Guy/Gal’ brands.


8. The Lover. “I only have eyes for you,” The Lover professes. By fostering intimacy and inspiring admiration, The Lover follows its emotions to strengthen all relationships from parental love to friendship, spiritual love to romantic. Common ‘Lover’ brands we know today are Haagen-Dazs, Victoria’s Secret and Jaguar.



9. The Jester. Playful and energetic, The Jester seeks to live in the moment with full enjoyment and brings joy to the world. ‘Jester’ brands we know and love include M&Ms, Pepsi and Ferrari.



10. The Caregiver. As an archetype embodying pure altruism, The Caregiver protects others and is moved by compassion. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is the adage of The Caregiver. Volvo, Heinz and Campbell’s are our favorite ‘Caregiver’ brands.



11. The Creator. Seen as an artist and an entrepreneur, The Creator believes, “If it can be imagined, it can be created.” Innately self-expressive and non-conforming, The Creator archetype beats to its own drum and is wildly innovative. Adobe, Audi and HP greatly resemble ‘Creator’ brands.



12. The Ruler. “Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” It’s a logical mantra of The Ruler archetype who evokes that “take charge” attitude and is a true leader. The Ruler is known to create order from chaos and thrives with control. American Express, Microsoft and Mercedes are only a few of today’s Ruler brands.


*All images from CultureTalk 



It’s not an easy task to truly learn how to own your archetype. Or even how to identify it in the first place. Doing so requires a deep-dive into your core values and understanding how to foster relationships with the loyal consumers you have and those you wish to know. So, how do you start aligning your brand with an archetype?

1. Look to your North Star. Where are you now? Where do you need to go? Start with your company’s purpose and beliefs. This will help you determine the archetypes that best align with your company mission and core values.

2. Consider your audiences. What are their personas and what role does your brand play in their lives? Does it solve a big problem? Create exciting experiences? By understanding people and their motivations — both in and outside your organization — you should be able to narrow down to the archetype(s) that best embody your brand.

3. Tell your story. Storytelling releases a neurochemical (oxytocin) in our brains which compels us to feel more empathy, human connection and “engage in cooperative behavior.” How? Well, science.

4. Walk your story. It’s not enough to simply tell, you need to do. Give your story real meaning — it’s not just an added bonus, it’s a pre-requisite for success. Archetypes should not only guide communication, but also the makeup of your visual identity elements, design and marketing.

5. Align your culture. Keep your focus. Share your archetypal identity across your organization. It’ll build trust, spark conversation, compel excitement and give more people something to rally around.

Need to locate and create a story that helps your brands and customers soar? Reach out and we’ll start creating your story together.


Erin Schroeter

Erin Schroeter is a Content Strategist/Copywriter at Trajectory. With a passion for all things social/digital, Erin puts big ideas into little sentences and uses her words to connect people to one another. As a Boston University alumni who has worked in Advertising all around the world (most recently London), she's written for various music publications, managed social media programs and collaborated on creative strategies. When she isn't totally engulfed in creative brainstorms, Erin practices yoga and paints.