Brand Personality: The 12 Archetypes

In 1919, a young man named Carl Jung first introduced the term ‘archetype’, and 100 years later, marketers like me are still writing about it.

The most uncomplicated definition of archetype that I’ve found is this one:

“An archetype is something that is considered to be a perfect or typical example of a particular kind of person or thing because it has all their most important characteristics.”

- Collins Dictionary

Marketers like me will tell you to think of your brand as a person, not an entity. I say this all the time.

For non-marketers, this can be hard, because brands are not in fact real people. When I ask business owners to describe their brand, they end up describing their products, their customers or themselves.

Enter Jung and his 12 Archetypes. Who would have known that a Swiss psychologist would help us define our brands some 100 years later? However, with his 12 personality archetypes, he has in a big way.

Lana and I have used Jung’s archetypes in all our strategy workshops to help businesses unlock their brand personality. Once they’ve figured out who their brand is, they then have a blueprint for future communications.

Brand personalities help us with practical decisions such as…..

  • Create messaging that fits with our overall personality

  • Set a tone of voice for that messaging

  • Create a visual identity that is consistent with that personality

  • Use imagery that aligns with that personality

The archetypes help brands stay true to who they are (and are not) so that trust and familiarity are built with customers.

We can also dig deeper and make big decisions about our brand based on our archetype personality such as….

  • Brand values

  • Brand promise

  • Organisational culture

  • Brand strategy

It all starts with your archetype.

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CREATOR

CREATIVE, IMAGINATIVE, ORIGINAL

Goal: To create something of enduring beauty

Examples: Lego, Crayola, Idiello

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HERO

WARRIOR, COURAGEOUS, ACHIEVER

Goal: To improve the world, prove yourself

Examples: Nike, Ferrari, FedEx

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LOVER

PASSIONATE, INTIMATE, COMMITTED

Goal: To create experiences that delight

Examples: Magnum, BMW, Victoria’s Secret

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RULER

LEADER, RESPONSIBLE, AUTHORITY

Goal: To create success, lead people to a common destination.

Examples: Mercedes Benz, Microsoft, Rolex

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SAGE

PHILOSOPHER, INTELLIGENT, GURU

Goal: Seeker of knowledge, discover truth

Examples: Google, TED, CNN

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OUTLAW

REBEL, MAVERICK, DEFIANT

Goal: Make an impact, break the rules

Examples: Harley Davidson, MTV, Uber

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MAGICIAN

DREAMER, VISIONARY, INSIGHTFUL

Goal: To make dreams come true

Examples: Disney, Linx, Mastercard

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REGULAR GIRL/GUY

HUMBLE, HARDWORKING, FRIENDLY

Goal: To belong, fit in

Examples: Ikea, ebay, Gap

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CAREGIVER

PROTECTOR, NURTURING, COMPASSIONATE

Goal: Protect people from harm, help people feel loved.

Examples: Johnson&Johnson, Salvation Army, Volvo

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JESTER

PERFORMER, SPONTANEOUS, PLAYFUL

Goal: Have a good time, lighten the mood

Examples: Nandos, M&M’s, Boost, iSelect

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EXPLORER

WANDERER, INDEPENDENT, CURIOUS

Goal: To be independent, experience an exciting, more fulfilled life

Examples: Lonely Planet, Red Bull, NASA, National Geographic

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INNOCENT

PURE, IDEALISTIC, OPTOMISTIC

Goal: To live a pure and simple life, to do things right

Examples: Dove, Evian, Qantas