What is Your Brand Archetype?

What is a brand archetype?

12 fundamental brand archetypes













Why knowing your brand archetype is important for your business

Gives your brand meaning

Strengthens messaging

Cuts through the noise

Connects with your target audience

Cards from "Archetypes in Branding" by Margaret Pott Hartwell and Joshua Chen.

A part of our unique branding process here at Anthem Branding is building out a brand’s archetype or its key identity traits.

Archetypes stem from famed psychologist Carl Jung, who believed they are the fundamental way in which we as humans understand personality by categorizing different types by using images or symbols.

The brand archetype helps define the role your brand will play in people’s lives and the story you want to tell about who you are and what you stand for. The idea behind using brand archetypes in this context is to anchor your brand against something iconic and memorable.

When you partner with us, assigning your brand an archetype is a critical part of building a brand strategy. This allows your consumers to relate to the brand’s personality and aspirations.

There are 12 fundamental brand archetypes/identities. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, as outlined in a fantastic book called Archetypes in Branding by Margaret Pott Hartwell and Joshua Chen, which we’ve excerpted below.

Similar to the Healer. Caregivers are known in the truest form to be altruistic. They are unselfish and devoted to nurturing and caring for others.

Strengths: Altruism. Compassion. Patience. Empathy.

Weaknesses: Fear of instability. Overcompromise leading to loss of balance. Inability to say no.
Examples: Amnesty International. Allstate Insurance. St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Similar to the Artist and Entrepreneur. Creators have a passionate need for self-expression and to be a cultural pioneer. Creators offer a means of dealing with how out of control the world seems.

Strengths: Creativity. Imagination. Nonlinear thought. Nonconformity. Developed an aesthetic.

Weaknesses: Overdramatization. Depression accompanying a failure to make meaning. Perfectionism. Fear of mediocrity and judgment.

Examples: Charles and Ray Eames. Walt Disney. LEGO.

Similar to the Advocate. The Everyman is driven by the need to feel a sense of belonging and believes that everyone matters equally, regardless of status, age, ethnicity, or creed.

Strengths: A great strength of character. Faithfulness. Supportiveness. Usefulness. Functionality. Resourcefulness.

Weaknesses: Un-evolved behavior. Ignorance. Preoccupation with the basic routines of life. Groupthink.

Examples: MetLife Insurance. Trader Joe’s. AAA.

Similar to the Adventurer. The Explorer is an intrepid traveler whose quest for meaning is characterized by bold, dynamic, risky, and adrenaline-charged challenges.

Strengths: Fearlessness. Risk-taking. Focus. Daring. Spontaneity. Hunger for a new experience.

Weaknesses: A tendency toward addiction. Inability to find joy in the normal. Trouble maintaining relationships.

Examples:Ramen Squad. Clif Bar. REI.

Similar to the Athlete or Rescuer. The Hero acts to redeem society by overcoming great odds in service to successfully completes extraordinary acts of strength, courage, and goodness.

Strengths: Self-sacrifice. Courage. Redemption. Transformation. Faith. Stamina.

Weaknesses: Delusions of grandeur. Arrogance. The temptation of power.

Examples: Nike. Harry Potter. The U.S. Army.

Similar to the Idealist. The Innocent is pure, virtuous and faultless, free from the responsibility of having done anything hurtful or wrong.

Strengths: Unbridled sense of wonder. Purity. Freedom from preconceptions. Trust. Unconditional love. Spontaneity. Honesty. Wholesomeness.

Weaknesses: A propensity to retreat into fantasy. A tendency to avoid, deny, or prepress problems. Fear of punishment for something wrong or bad.

Examples: Method (home and personal care products). Forrest Gump.

Similar to the Entertainer. The Jester joyfully lives in the moment and seeks to lighten up the world. They are motivated to play, make jokes, and be funny and to turn things on their head.

Strengths: Wicked humor. Originality. Irreverence. Present moment awareness. Facile social skills.

Weaknesses: The danger of being misunderstood, shunned, or considered a threat. The temptation to play cruel tricks. Prone to waste time. Insolence. A tendency to be scattered.

Examples: GEICO. IKEA. Jon Stewart.

Similar to the Companion. Lovers are trusted support who can be relied upon to lend a helping hand. They have a deep respect for each person’s value and inherent worth and show it by offering assistance, order, and a sense of belonging.

Strengths: Loyalty. Detail orientation. Determination. Practicality. Patience.

Weaknesses: Betrayal. Jealousy. Loss of self. Prone to dependency.

Examples: EFAA. Guide Dogs of America. Zagat.

Similar to the Engineer, who is curious and looks to find solutions to everyday problems. Satisfaction for them lies in figuring out how things work.

Strengths: Practicality. Sensibility. Engagement. Honesty. Groundedness. Patience.

Weaknesses: Manipulation. The temptation to seek one’s own advantage or act as a puppet master.

Examples: Dyson. Applied Materials. 3M.

Similar to the Ambassador or Judge. They represent power and control and are motivated to lead. They are able to successfully drive a vision in pursuit of challenging circumstances within constantly changing contexts.

Strengths: Power. Confidence. Dominion. High status. Leadership.

Weaknesses: Fear of loss of control and chaos. Entitled arrogance. Authoritarianism. Righteousness.

Examples: Rolls-Royce. British Airways. George Washington University.

Similar to the Detective and the Mentor. The Sage has the ability to transcend the personal in order to discern and uncover symbols and signs hidden in life’s challenges. Generous of spirit yet discriminating, the Sage gently shares wisdom with compassion and mercy.

Strengths: Wisdom. Intelligence. Truth-seeking. Clarity of thought. Rational decision making. Prudence. Talent as a diligent researcher.

Weaknesses: Fear of being duped or ignorant. Susceptibility to feeling disconnected from reality. Dogmatism, righteousness, or arrogance. Lack of action.

Examples: Harvard. The Smithsonian. Mayo Clinic.

Similar to the Rebel, who is a force to be reckoned with, representing the voice that’s had enough.

Strengths: Leadership. Risk-taking. Progressive and provocative thought. Bravery. Personal power. Brutal honesty. Experimentation.

Weaknesses: Susceptibility to being fueled by hate or anger. Negativity. Loss of boundaries. Criminal behavior or lawlessness. Fanaticism.

Examples:MTV. Apple’s 1984 Macintosh ad. Che Guevara.

Just like movies or book genres, a brand archetype is a way for your brand to symbolize itself and helps your audience remember your brand and what it’s all about.

Each archetype has a clear vision, mission, and purpose. Once you identify with one based on the brand’s set of beliefs, you can rally around a singular meaning affiliated with that archetype.

Having a defined personality type allows you to form concise and targeted messaging as well as establish a consistent tone and voice — increasing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Your audience is bombarded every day with dozens of brands begging for their attention. With a defined archetype, your brand can cut through the noise and reach its target audience faster.

We tend to align ourselves with people similar to us, in friendships and romantic relationships, at least at some level. We look for people with similar beliefs and morals.

It’s the same when we as consumers seek out brands to do business with — we connect ourselves with ones that are parallel to our beliefs, style, and morals or that embody what we’d like to become or aspire to be.

Identifying with a brand archetype allows people to easily relate and associate with your brand — making it easier for your brand to find the ideal buyer.