Early on in your personal brand development journey thinking about the foundation for your brand is important—what do you want your brand to represent, what will its vibe be, what impression will it leave on your target audience?
Personal brand archetypes are one brand framework that can help you answer these questions as you plan your personal brand.
Commonly applied in business branding, brand archetypes can be thought of as templates or models that brands can follow to help guide them and serve as a foundation for defining their brand's core characteristics and values.
This same concept can be applied to personal brands as you can use brand archetypes as a lens through which you can make personal brand decisions and develop content.
Let’s discuss how you can use personal brand archetypes to help guide your brand development
Before getting into personal brand archetypes specifically, let's explain the term “archetype.”
An archetype is a symbol, an idea, or a pattern that can be closely related to.
We relate to an archetype based on our specific personality traits and characteristics because the archetype itself has traits and characteristics.
Another interesting way to think about an archetype is that they are positive stereotypes, representing a set of characteristics that are commonly associated with a person or entity.
The idea behind the existence of archetypes dates back to the time of the Greek philosopher Plato and the Platonic concept of "pure form," or the fundamental characteristics of something. Later on the concept of archetypes was made popular in the 20th century by Carl Jung.
So how does all of that relate to branding? It relates because brand archetypes are a template or collection of brand characteristics that another brand can model itself after.
Brand archetypes offer a foundation and a set of principles a brand can base its decisions and communication style on.
For example, many business brands use archetypes to define and explain their interests, attributes, and goals.
The business brand archetype strategy involves a businesses baking the characteristics of a particular persona into their brand strategy and matching those characteristics throughout all of their marketing efforts, like visual branding, advertising and tone on social media.
For example, one of the archetypes we will discuss below is "the jester." This archetype's key characteristics involve being funny and casual. A brand wanting to model itself after the jester would adopt humor in its content and brand positioning.
Jung claimed that when correctly identified, brand archetypes align the brand’s essence to its target customer's persona. In this concept, the corporation takes on a relatable human-like personality in its branding efforts, including its messaging and visuals
According to Jung’s research, there are 12 such brand archetypes. Let's check them out.
The innocent brand archetype represents an optimistic and upbeat personality. This brand archetype strives to bring happiness to people.
Brands with the innocent brand archetype are often brands who offer products and services catering to families and children.
Examples of the innocent brand archetype: Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's
The everyman archetype seeks to connect with everyone. This personality wants to feel a sense of belonging and tends to blend into society with a friendly and temperate approach.
Brands with this archetype tend to have wide target customer bases thanks to their broad applicability and relatability.
Examples of the everyman brand archetype: eBay, Ikea, Target
The outlaw brand archetype’s other name is “the rebel”. This personality questions everything, makes its own rules and inspires independence.
Many brands with the outlaw brand archetype fall into the lifestyle business category, creating products and offering services that enable people to pursue their interests and ideas.
Examples of the outlaw brand archetype: Harley-Davidson, Virgin, Liquid Death
Brands falling under the hero brand archetype are characterized by courage, determination and inspiration. These brands work hard and are fearless in the face of challenges, instilling this same mentality among their target audiences.
Many brands falling into the hero brand archetype category are sports brands and associations, providing products or services that help people achieve success in their lives.
Examples of the hero brand archetype: Nike, US Army, Under Armour
The creator brand archetype is driven by imagination and possibilities. These brands provide the inspiration and tools that enable their audiences to build what they want to and create their own worlds.
Because of these characteristics, many brands with the creator brand archetype fall into the software business category.
Examples of the creator brand archetype: Adobe, Lego, Roblox
The explorer brand archetype has an endless desire for freedom. These brands are bold, adventurous and enjoy the thrill of a new experience.
Examples of industries where the explorer brand archetype is common include outdoor products, automotive and travel.
Examples of the explorer brand archetype: The North Face, Jeep, National Geographic
The lover brand archetype exudes a passion for everything sensual and beautiful. They are driven by desire and motivated to be physically and emotionally attractive to consumers.
Fashion and luxury brands commonly align themselves to the lover brand archetype in order to appeal to consumers in their personal lives.
Examples of the lover brand archetype: Chanel, Tiffany, Victoria’s Secret
The magician brand archetype strives to bring a sense of wonder to its target audience. Magician brands tend to be ambitious, aiming to deliver transformative products and experiences that change society.
Many brands with the magician brand archetype operate in the technology and entertainment industries—two industries where products and services can play a significant role in people’s lives.
Examples of the magician brand archetype: Disney, Apple, Polaroid
The jester brand archetype is known for being playful, fun and humorous. Brands with this archetype are focused on enjoying the present moment and can also be prone to mischief and trickery.
Many consumer packaged goods companies fall into this category. These companies attempt to build humorous brands in order to stand out to consumers among competitors.
Examples of the jester brand archetype: Dollar Shave Club, M&Ms, Old Spice
Brands with the caregiver brand archetype are known for being protectors of others and are characterized by service and selflessness. Their desire to serve others is what energizes and drives them forward.
Non-profit organizations, healthcare companies and household goods companies often fall into this category. That is because the caregiver persona is a natural fit for their helpful products and services.
Examples of the caregiver brand archetype: UNICEF, Johnson & Johnson, Pampers
Sages are the wisest brand archetype. These brands celebrate knowledge and strive to share it with their audiences.
Education platforms and universities commonly take on the sage brand persona in their marketing efforts.
Examples of the sage brand archetype: Google, Harvard, Philips
The ruler brand archetype is characterized by authority, being organized and bringing chaos into order. These brands are bold, confident and steady.
Brands with the ruler archetype tend to be big time players in their respective markets who are in it for the long haul.
Examples of the ruler brand archetype: Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex
Just like a corporate brand like Nintendo or Disney tries to embody key characteristics of its desired archetype in its marketing efforts, you can embody a brand archetype in your personal brand.
Personal brand archetypes serve as a guide for creators, entrepreneurs and professionals to model their brands after.
For example, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk emulates the outlaw archetype in his personal brand. Analyzing his personal brand shows how he has perfectly aligned the essence of his brand to the traits of his target audience.
Using the characteristics of your chosen archetype, you will attract an audience of people who can relate to your brand. Archetypes are a form of storytelling, and humans, by default, love to hear stories that align with their personalities and traits.
Now that we've covered how business brands and personal brands can use archetypes to guide them, let’s discuss how you can choose your own personal brand archetype.
Your archetype should be rooted in who you are today and inspired by who you want to become. Clearly understanding your personal brand goals will help to inform which archetype best suits you.
For example, if you want to become a business thought leader, perhaps the sage personal brand archetype is a good fit to model your digital persona after. Or, if your dream is to create a big YouTube channel full of funny content, the jester personal brand archetype is a good one to consider.
Having sight of what your dream state looks like can help you to pick the brand persona, or archetype, that can get you there and will make the most sense to your target audience.
Think about your long term goals. Do you want to be an inspirational leader? A digital nomad living an independent lifestyle? Once you can picture what accomplishing your personal brand goals will result in, think about which personal brand archetype would thrive in that ideal scenario.
Your core values are another key factors in choosing a fitting brand archetype.
Think about who you are, what you care enough about to take a stand on. Once your values are clear, delve deeper to understand how they form the foundation of your brand.
For example, if honesty, respect, and trust are your personal brand pillars, acknowledge how they reflect your brand's ethos and how they will guide your interactions, decisions and key messaging across marketing platforms.
This introspective process is vital for choosing the brand archetype that best aligns with your own values, and in turn, your personal brand's persona.
Evaluate your personal brand's mission and the value it creates for people. Now look at the 12 personal brand archetypes and consider which archetype describes someone with similar values.
One of the reasons people relate to archetypes is because they convey emotions and cause observers to feel those emotions.
In the case of personal brand archetypes, this means making your audience feel the emotions you intend your persona to accentuate.
I like the way Kelly Fiance discussed personal brand attributes in this TikTok video. She calls them your “brand words,” and explains how these attributes should be how you want your brand and your social media accounts to feel.
For example, Coca-Cola uses the innocent archetype, often including joyous moments and actions in their commercials. This makes their audience feel positive and nostalgic.
Another example is how Nike uses the hero archetype to convey hard work, diligence, and ultimate success. Their inspirational advertisements makes their audience feel like they can all “Just Do It."
As you look at your social media profiles, personal brand statement, and the tone of content you create, consider what emotions people will have as they observe and consume those materials. With those emotions in mind, consider which personal brand archetype also creates those feelings, and further align your brand to that personal brand archetype.
In addition to looking inward, you should look outward toward your audience. The community you build with your personal brand is a critical part of reaching your goals and the brand itself.
That is why considering the personality traits of your target audience is just as valuable as considering your own. What motivates them? What are they afraid of? What do they find entertaining?
To stick with the Nike example, Nike caters to ambitious athletes seeking achievement and aligns its branding to those motivators.
Understanding your target audience's traits will help you to choose a personal brand archetype with similar traits. The more the traits of your personal brand, ideal brand archetype, and audience align, the greater chance of success you will have.
Take note of your target audiences' personality traits and look for those same traits when assessing the brand archetype to model your brand after.
The 12 brand archetypes as a personal brand encompass roles like the Innocent, Everyman, Outlaw, Hero, Creator, Explorer, Lover, Magician, Jester, Caregiver, Sage, and Ruler. Each archetype embodies distinct traits and values which, when adopted, can help in carving out a unique persona for your personal brand.
Determining your personal brand archetype involves a deep reflection on your core values, goals, and the emotional resonance you aim to create with your audience. By aligning these elements with the characteristics of a specific archetype, you can discover a fitting brand persona.
To discover your brand, start by defining your core values, motivations, and the impact you wish to make. Next, explore different brand archetypes to find which one aligns with your values and desired brand persona, and engage in storytelling to emotionally connect with your audience and convey your brand's narrative effectively.
Brand archetypes are a fascinating lens through which you can assess your personal brand.
By considering which personal brand archetypes best match your brand, you can align your digital persona with traits that are best suited for your goals and target audience.
As you select an archetype to serve as a North Star for your brand, consider the tips in this article to help find your ideal archetype.
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