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What is a Brand Archetype? - Brand Archetypes Skip to content

What is a Brand Archetype?


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Have you heard the term Brand Archetype before?

We’ve been kicking it around for awhile. We even created a whole website and podcast dedicated to the term. Why? Because it is really important to the success of any business’s brand strategy.

What does your brand strategy look like? Have you defined your logo, color palette, tagline, and fonts? Is that where it ends? Don’t worry, that is where most companies stop in defining their brand. The one very important (and often overlooked) element of a brand is the emotional connection element.

What do emotions have to do with brand?

Everything! brand archetype

People remember how you make them feel more than they remember anything else about you or your company. It’s true!

So, how do you want people to remember your company? Are you funny? Trustworthy? High-Touch customer service? Are you the top expert in your field? Creative?

Is it fair to say that you want your brand to:

  • be universally understood?
  • be powerful?
  • invoke emotions?

Those three things are EXACTLY what an archetype is. There are 12 main archetypes in the world that permeate every culture and belief system on the planet. They are powerful because every person on the planet understands them in exactly the same way.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your brand achieved all this?

Can I have an example, please?

When you hear the word, “Mother” it likely invokes feelings of comfort, soothing, love, and family. Every person on earth knows what the word mother means (in their own language) and will use the same types of words to describe a mother.

The Mother Archetype is one of the easiest and most popular archetypes to identify.

So what are the 12 main archetypes?

If you click on any of the above archetypes you will be redirected to a page that will dive deep into everything that archetype is and how to create a powerful brand using that concept.

Note: There are more than 12 archetypes in the world. Each one of the 12 also has sub-archetypes, or nuances of the main one. You can even create your own as long as it follows the 3 rules:

  1. Universally understood
  2. Powerful
  3. Invokes emotion

How does an archetype help my brand? brand archetype

Once you pick an archetype (more on that later) your brand becomes razor focused and very sharp. You no longer have to guess if an ad campaign or message is going to work. The next time you design a brochure, a billboard, a website, or a commercial, the only thing you have to ask yourself is, “Is this <insert archetype> enough?”

Every person in your organization will easily understand your brand and be able to convey it. They will all be able to watch out for brand mistakes too.

You now have one focus with your brand instead of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. The very technical term for this is “spray and pray marketing“, just in case you were wondering.

When we look at our clients before they adopt a brand archetype strategy and after it is like night and day. Their messages are super powerful, memorable, and 100% on brand.  The owners and marketing managers are also happier and have clarity in what they are doing. It takes all the guess work out of marketing.

I need another example, please.

Content and images are two main ways we convey brand through marketing. Let’s take a bicycle company, for example. Here are two ways we could marketing it using two different archetypes.

The Mother of all Bicycles

If you used the Mother archetype for your new company, you might focus on safety, making memories, kid-friendly trails, and family. Your images could be a family riding down a country lane and then having a picnic. Your words would support these concepts. Can you picture this? Easy right?

brand archetype

The Explorer of all Bicycles

If you used the Explorer archetype for your new company you might focus on adventure and intrigue. Your images could be of muddy mountain biking, taking risks, and high adventure. Your words would convey an entirely different type of experience than the Mother company.

brand archetype

However, they both simply sell bicycles. Each one is really focused on who their audience is and how to connection with them on an emotional level.

Are you starting to see how powerful this can be?

Which Archetype is right for my company?

We get asked this a lot. The truth is, they are all powerful in their own way. There is no right or wrong archetype for any company. However, certain industries do tend to gravitate toward certain archetypes. Health care often depicts “The Mother.”  Insurance companies prefer “The Jester” (Aflac, Geico, and Progressive.) Lawyers tend to associate with “The Guru.”  You get the idea.

Picture the last advertisement you saw for a law firm. Were there people in suits standing in front of mahogany bookcases looking very serious and trustworthy? Of course there was!

While there is no right or wrong archetype, take a look at your competition. If you are a new law firm in town and all the other firms are Gurus, it will be most adventitious for you to NOT be a Guru. You want your brand to stand out. To be different than the competition. This will cause your name to be top-of-mind in your industry.

How do I pick an Archetype?

You could just randomly pick one, but that doesn’t seem very responsible does it? There actually is a lot to consider when choosing an archetype, but it is not a difficult process.

Company culture, competition, clients, energy level, and priorities should all be considered. That didn’t make choosing one any easier, did it?

Maybe this will help:

Step One: Take our FREE online questionnaire

Put your company hat on and answer the questions on behalf of your company. Don’t overthink it, just go with your gut. It is helpful to have several people in your company take the questionnaire separately. Be sure to have decision makers and marketing people take it. It’s fun to compare answers and see what everyone is thinking. However, what you will soon discover is that you didn’t all get the same results. That is because your brand is probably like most other companies–a little all over the place.

That is why this is only STEP ONE.

 Take the Questionnaire

Step Two: (Magical) Brand Discovery Session

After the questionnaires comes a brand discovery session. It takes less than 2 hours and the result is amazing: Your team will magically agree on the perfect archetype for your brand.

Our team of brand experts will walk you through a constructive brainstorming session. We will look at different aspects of your business including your:

  • company as a whole
  • products and/or services
  • culture and employees
  • market space and competition
  • customers and clients
  • future goals

Many words will be used. We will organize them. Move them around. Categorize them. Give them colors. Wave our magic wand and…

You will come to the powerful conclusion of which archetype your company will be.

It really is magical, we aren’t making that up.

Step Three: Infuse your brand archetype into everything you do!

Now the real fun begins. You get to look at everything you are currently doing and want to do in your organization through the new lens of your chosen archetype.  Your brand should permeate everything you do from how you answer the phone to what your invoices look like to your next amazing commercial.

It all matters! But it can’t be done overnight. We can help you prioritize and infuse the subtle shifts to the big ideas in a way that makes sense for your timeline and your budget.

The only mistake you can make is to NOT adopt this powerful brand strategy. We can’t all be Nike (The Hero Archetype) but we can create a powerful brand like they do. Just Do It (pick an archetype today!)

Amy Zander

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