Variations on a Theme

Brand archetypes may be universal, but is your business using the right one?


Anyone who survived a Lit 101 class in college might suffer some flashbacks when you start tossing around the word archetypes. While there is some correlation between literary archetypes, such as the hero or innocent, and brand archetypes, we aren’t going to make you start brushing up on your Shakespeare or Beowulf. The point of either type of archetype is to represent an individual or situation that is universal and relatable.

Associating your company or brand with one of the common archetypes gives your customers instant insight and connection to your company’s goals. Here are some ideas on how you can better use archetypes to create your brand’s story.

Classic Archetypes

When it comes to selecting the brand archetype that best represents your business, there are 12 classic choices to pick, including what they say about a brand:

·      The Innocent—Has strong values, is seen as reliable, possibly even nostalgic

·      The Regular Person—Offers a sense of belonging or the common touch

·      The Hero—Solves major problems or inspires others to

·      The Outlaw—Advocates for others and for change

·      The Explorer—Connotes adventure and authenticity

·      The Creator—Viewed as creative and inspiring

·      The Ruler—Restores order and stability

·      The Magician—Transforms the world via imagination

·      The Lover—Builds relationships and makes people feel appreciated

·      The Caregiver—Nurtures others and guides them to self-care

·      The Jester—Provides spontaneity and fun

·      The Sage—Dispenses knowledge and understanding of the world

Which theme you opt for will depend not only on what your business’s goals are, but also who you envision as your target audience.

The Right Archetype for You

How do you think your customers view you? Have you asked them lately? Take some time to reach out and do the research. Whatever product you deliver likely goes beyond the obvious message in your customers’ eyes; typically, they have an emotional connection to a company as well. It is worth your while to understand why a customer associates with your brand versus a competitor. Strive to understand how your company or product makes them feel.

Next, think about your business or brand. How do you see yourself? Is your view of your brand in line with how customers see you? If these aren’t similar, you may need to shift your vision to fit your customers’ view and build on the positive feelings they already have for your business.

Use this information to guide your thinking as you dig into the 12 archetypes to determine which feels true to your brand. Whatever you select, it’s essential that you move forward in a way that is authentic and consistent.

From Archetype to Messaging

Once you have determined the brand archetype that best exemplifies your business, you have to determine how to make that theme into a compelling communications message. As we mentioned above, a big component of effectively utilizing your brand archetype is consistency. If you present your company as a caregiver, but you aren’t extending that philosophy to your employees, it won’t take long before the disconnect is revealed and customers start to view your brand as untrustworthy.

In addition to keeping your brand archetype messaging real and relatable, it’s essential that you believe in your messaging. How you communicate to your customers informs their reactions. If you aren’t passionate about your brand, why should they be? Same goes for your employees or any staff. Everyone needs to be on board and believe in your brand archetype for it to be effective.

Finally, you engaged with customers to determine which brand archetype best represented your business. Don’t let that relationship fall to the wayside now. Use your customers as brand ambassadors. Their emotional connection to your brand should be harnessed and used to spread how your company is different/better than the rest.