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Read time: 5 minutes‎

Why are we loyal to some brands and not others?

Why do we feel deep connections with them?

Why do we become their advocates?

We don’t just enjoy buying their products and services… 

We become members of their tribes.

What’s different about these brands?

They’re built within the framework of a brand archetype.


An archetype is a model example of a person, behavior, or personality.

Brought to us by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, archetypes characterize familiar, universal traits that humans instinctively understand.

In both business and personal branding, aligning ourselves with an archetype allows us to:

  • Understand our audience better.
  • Define our brand more eloquently.
  • More accurately position ourselves in the market.
  • Fine-tune our brand identity and communications.
  • Draw on what is already familiar and compelling to people.

(And just in case you’re unsure, it’s pronounced ar-ki-type 🧐)

The 12 brand archetypes are:

Outlaw, Magician, Hero, Lover, Jester, Everyman, Caregiver, Ruler, Creator, Innocent, Sage, and Explorer.

Keep reading for the details of each — plus how to use them to build your brand.

But first, some quick examples…

Examples of brand archetypes in the wild

Even if you’re just learning about these things for the first time, you’ve been seeing them in your daily life already…

→ The juggler performing at events — Jester

→ The contrarian who presents opposing views — Outlaw

→ The mentor who shares wisdom and guides you — Sage

→ The artist who innovates and breaks the mould — Creator

Examples of celebrity brand archetypes

We often see celebrities fitting into this framework too.

In fact, the well-defined and emphasized personalities of these celebrities has contributed to their success.

→ Björk is the Creator — with her expressive imagination, she innovates with anything she touches.

→ Keanu Reeves is the Everyman — humble, sweet, and sincere, and enjoys life’s simple pleasures.

→ Steve Irwin was the Explorer — fascinated by the natural world and brave enough to walk right into it.

These behaviours are all familiar to us and we understand them instinctively.

We recognize them with our subconscious mind, even if we don’t know what to call them.

Essentially, it allows us (as brands) to hack into the minds of our audience.

How can you use brand archetypes?

Choose the archetype that best fits both you and your ideal client.

  • What values do you and your clients share?
  • How do you want them to feel about you?

Try to choose just one.

But if necessary, choose a supporting archetype that also fits well.

After all, we don’t always fit into a single category.

Here are the 12 brand archetypes in detail…

1. Outlaw

“Rules are meant to be broken.”

Strategy: Break the rules; challenge the status quo

Traits: Confident, bold, wild, thrilling, liberating

Voice: Disruptive, rebellious, blunt, raw, combative

Drawbacks: Crossing to the dark side; becoming unlawful

Audience: Seek liberation; enjoy the thrill; are drawn to the wild side of life

Examples: Virgin, Harley-Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Malala, Robin Hood, Jack Sparrow

2. Magician

“It can happen.”

Strategy: Make dreams come true; create something special

Traits: Intuitive, clever, disciplined, perceptive, powerful

Voice: Mystical, enthusiastic, charismatic, and fun

Drawbacks: Manipulation, arrogance, negativity

Audience: Don’t consider logic or rules; imagine endless possibilities

Examples: Disney, Pixar, TED, Absolut, Oprah, Micheal Jackson, Seth Godin, Gandalf

3. Hero

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Strategy: Become stronger and better; overcome challenges; prove people wrong

Traits: Courageous, inspiring, motivating, empowering

Voice: Honest, direct, confident, motivational, inspiring, proud

Drawbacks: Arrogance, competitiveness, overpowering

Audience: Appreciate quality and endurance; try new things to help their progress

Examples: Nike, Adidas, Duracell, Michael Jorden, Serena Williams, Odysseus, Harry Potter

4. Lover

“Love is the meaning of life.”

Strategy: Create intimacy; inspire love

Traits: Passionate, romantic, elegant, attractive, warm, committed, idealistic

Voice: Alluring, affectionate, empathetic, warm, soothing

Drawbacks: Not being grounded; appearing shallow or vain

Audience: Enjoy beautiful aesthetics and elegance

Examples: Chanel, L’Oréal, Godiva, Hallmark, Marylin Manroe, Sofía Vergara, Lady and the Tramp

5. Jester

“If I can’t dance, then I’m not part of it.”

Strategy: Live in the moment; be playful; bring joy to the world

Traits: Fun, comical, light-hearted, mischievous

Voice: Funny, self-deprecating, enthusiastic

Drawbacks: Lacking seriousness; being disrespectful

Audience: Enjoy humour and playfulness; don’t take life too seriously

Examples: M&M’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Steve Harvey, Bugs Bunny

6. Everyman/Everywoman

“I’m like you and you’re like me.”

Strategy: Belong; connect with others; create a community

Traits: Friendly, honest, relatable, supportive, laid-back, down to earth

Voice: Friendly, helpful, authentic

Drawbacks: Blending in too much; lacking a distinct identity

Audience: Practical; don’t need bells and whistles

Examples: Toyota, IKEA, Home Depot, Gap, Levi’s, Target, Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon

7. Caregiver

“Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Strategy: Care for and protect others; sacrifice for the greater good

Traits: Empathetic, compassionate, nurturing, generous, kind 

Voice: Caring, warm, gentle, reassuring

Drawbacks: Being taken advantage of; being exploited

Audience: Compassionate; enjoy safety, security, and structure

Examples: WWF, Campbell’s Soup, Pampers, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, Michele Obama, Patch Adams

8. Ruler

“Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

Strategy: Success and wealth; having control; creating order

Traits: Sophisticated, professional, educated, organized, responsible

Voice: Commanding, refined, articulate

Drawbacks: Arrogance; being obsessed with power

Audience: Want to be admired, noticed, and respected.

Examples: Mercedes-Benz, Hugo Boss, Rolex, Meryl Streep, 007, The Godfather

9. Creator

“If it can be imagined, it can be created.”

Strategy: Unlock imagination; create something with meaning and enduring value

Traits: Creative, imaginative, artistic, inventive, non-conformist

Voice: Expressive, inspirational, poetic, daring, provocative

Drawbacks: Perfectionism; being impractical

Audience: Creative and imaginative; seek perfection

Examples: Apple, Adobe, Lego, Crayola, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Martha Stewart, Yayoi Kusama, Dr. Suess, Mickey Mouse

10. Innocent

“Life if simple and simplicity is elegant.”

Strategy: Be happy; display wholesome virtue; foster a feel-good spirit

Traits: Simple, pure, sincere, moral, loyal, reliable, trustworthy

Voice: Honest, humble, sweet, and optimistic

Drawbacks: Being naïve, selfish, or childish

Audience: Seek genuine products that make them feel good

Examples: Coca-Cola, Dove, Volkswagen, Keanu Reeves, R2D2, Forrest Gump, Dory, Simba

11. Sage

“The truth will set you free.”

Strategy: Seek truth and understanding; show the path to wisdom

Traits: Educated, wise, thoughtful, analytical

Voice: Knowledgable, decisive, factual, guiding

Drawbacks: Being patronizing; lacking emotional connection

Audience: Look to develop their mental capacity; seek intellectual stimulation, knowledge, and wisdom.

Examples: Google, MIT, PBS, Dalai Lama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Yoda

12. Explorer

“You only get one life. Make it count.”

Strategy: Seek the unknown; find fulfillment through discovery; celebrate the journey

Traits: Brave, adventurous, exciting, ambitious, individualistic, independent 

Voice: Enthusiastic, energetic, daring

Drawbacks: Lacking commitment; over-exaggeration; not fitting into the mainstream

Audience: Thrill-seekers; enjoy mental and physical stimulation

Examples: Jeep, Red Bull, The North Face, Amelia Earhart, Steve Irwin, Indiana Jones

What happens after choosing an archetype?

Apply it to your brand!

Use it as the branded lens to look through any time you’re working on your business.

Consider it when defining your core values, positioning yourself, designing your identity, and finding your voice.

You’ll be on your way to building better relationships with dream clients.

“Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it actually were alive in some way, they have a relationship with it and care about it.”

– Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, from The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes

Which archetype resonates with your brand?