Brands, like people, have personalities. In a noisy and crowded marketplace, personality helps brands stand out from the crowd and connect deeply with their audience.
Think about some of your favourites — Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Patagonia. They have beautiful design, clever copy and inspiring campaigns, but below the surface every one of these awesome brands has a clear, consistent and compelling personality. There’s something familiar, attractive and relatable about them.
We get them.
We feel they get us…
and a bond is formed.
And here’s the great news: Awesome brands come in all shapes and sizes. With the right guidance and a willingness to put in some work, you can form the same bond with your customers. It’s not about becoming another Apple. It’s about becoming a clearer you. Clarifying your identity and your customers’ values and aspirations and developing your own brand personality to match.
The process is less complicated than you think, thanks in part to a tool called the 12 Brand Archetypes. Let’s take a look at what these archetypes are, why they’re so powerful and how you can leverage them for your brand.
Brand Archetypes Overview
The Innocent archetype wants to keep things pure and simple. These brands evoke comfort and nostalgia, reminding us that the world can still be a good and trustworthy place. They're honest, reassuring, wholesome and up-lifting and they want to help people experience paradise.
Think: Coca-Cola, Dove and Aveeno.
The Sage archetype is all about knowledge and wisdom. Sages are like trusted mentors — they analyze the world and share what they've learned, helping us understand it better. They're intellectual, wise and responsible and want to help people discover the truth.
Think: Google, National Geographic and TED.
This archetype values freedom and independence. Explorer brands feed our adventurous side, motivating us to push boundaries and seek new experiences. Explorers are ambitious, brave and open-minded and want to lead people on a journey of self-discovery by exploring the world.
Think: Patagonia, Jeep and Starbucks.
The Outlaw archetype wants to disrupt the status quo. Outlaws help their customers forge their own path and stand out from the pack. They're independent, brave, rebellious and, at times, even outrageous.
Think : Harley Davidson, Red Bull and MTV.
This archetype loves to make your dreams come true. Magician brands create new innovations that lead customers to experience a personal transformation. Magicians are charismatic, compelling, bold and clever and want to bring about transformation in many different forms.
Think: Disney, Sony and MAC Cosmetics.
This archetype loves to model courage and determination. Hero brands inspire and motivate us to go beyond our ordinary abilities and overcome whatever challenges come our way. Heroes are competitive, fearless and empowering and want to help people prove their worth through courageous action.
Think: Nike, Red Cross and FedEx.
The Lover archetype is all about attraction and indulgence. These brands help customers feel special, attractive and connected to others while indulging in the finer things. They’re passionate, affectionate, emotional and elegant and want to create connection for people.
Think: Chanel, Nescafe, Victoria’s Secret.
This archetype has fun and shares joy. Jesters bring relief and joy to daily life by offering a fresh perspective on the world. Jesters are witty, self-deprecating, lighthearted and unconventional and long to invite people to live joyfully in the present.
Think: Old Spice, Geico, M&Ms.
The Everyman archetype longs to create community and belonging. Everyman brands create a feeling of security and belonging, reassuring us that it's perfectly fine to be yourself. They're practical, relatable, honest and genuine and want to create connection for people.
Think: IKEA, WalMart, Budweiser.
The Caregiver archetype is nurturing and loves to serve others, especially those in need. Caregiver brands prioritize exceptional customer service to ensure people are well taken care of. Caregivers are empathetic, compassionate, gentle, warm and generous and long to protect people from harm.
Think: Salvation Army, Procter & Gamble, TOMS.
The Ruler archetype thrives on power and order. These brands give us a sense of stability and prestige in a chaotic world. They're commanding, powerful, articulate and refined and they desire control.
Think: Mercedes, Rolex, Microsoft.
This archetype is best known for its creativity and innovation. Creators love the creative process and they inspire others to unleash their own inner creator. Creators are imaginative, expressive, innovative, daring and inspiring and desire to create something that will last.
Think: Apple, Adobe, YouTube and Lego.
“Below the surface every great brand is a clear, consistent and compelling personality”
The Power of Personality: Elevate YOUR Brand with Brand Archetypes
1. Get really specific about who you are.
The work you put in here is worth it. Here are some key questions to help with this part of the process:
- What are you like? What are your collective personality traits?
- How do you see your brand? How do you want to be perceived?
- What do you do? Really… What benefits, value and meaning do you bring to your customers?
- Why do you do it? What’s your mission?
- What do you believe about your work?
- What’s most important to you?
2. Dig deeper into your ideal customer.
As you clarify your brand personality it’s crucial to make sure it aligns with your customer’s perception of your brand. Don’t skip this step! Your brand archetype is part self-reflection and part market perception. Remember, your brand ultimately exists to bring meaning to your customer. You are who your customer says you are; who they need you to be.
Here are a few questions you can work through to determine if you and your customer see things the same way:
- What are your customers like?
- What personality traits do they share? How similar are they to your archetype?
- What do they need you to provide? Is it your mission to meet those needs, or something else?
- How do they see your brand? How do they describe you to their friends?
- What are you best known for?
3. Start creating.
Finally, the really fun part… creating a compelling brand personality! Your archetype will determine the direction for your key messaging (what your brand stands for), tone of voice (how your brand sounds) and visual identity (what your brand looks like). In other words, it’ll give you a sandbox to play in, so have fun with it!
Ready to create a brand personality?
With the right guidance and some self awareness, your brand can develop its personality to connect with your customers like never before.
Written by Alex Busch
January 11, 2024