What are Archetypes?
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung adapted the concept of Greek archetypes and applied them to his theory of the human psyche. He believed the archetypes are elements of the collective unconscious, and personify fundamental themes of the human experience. Jung saw there were universal, overarching symbols and motifs throughout literature, mythology, art, religion, and dreams across multiple cultures, countries, and time periods. He believed these symbols were universal patterns of human nature that resided in the collective unconscious of all of humans.
Various types of storytelling are common examples of archetypes. You can find universal archetypes in characters (the hero, the villain) and in the plot (the hero’s journey) in countless books, plays and movies.
What are Brand Archetypes?
The concept of brand archetypes was introduced in the book The Hero and the Outlaw (*). Pearson and Mark took Jung’s theory of archetypes and applied them to brands, showing how archetypes are able to provide an instant familiarity, by resonating deeply with us and touching our emotions and imaginations.
There are 100s of archetypes, but Pearson and Mark focused on the 12 most common.
How I Use Brand Archetype
My ideal clients are women who are creative entrepreneurs and coaches. Consequently, I chose to adapt the descriptions, examples and personas of the 12 main brand archetypes specifically for entrepreneurs like you. Many of the books (like Pearson’s) use large corporations and organizations to describe the different brand archetypes. But you are not a billion dollar company with hundreds-of-thousands of employees. You are probably a solo business owner (a solopreneur) and a service-based business.
That means YOU are the face, of your business. Consequently, people who want to purchase your products, buy your services and connect with your business are wanting to purchase from and connect with YOU. Therefore branding a service-oriented, heart-centered, purpose-driven spiritual or creative business MUST be approached very differently than say a business the size of Amazon, Apple Computer or MasterCard.
The challenges these multi-million (billion) dollar companies face have very little in common with small business owners, creative entrepreneurs and coaches. I always have a hard time relating to the descriptions and felt maybe you did too. So when I decided to narrow my focus and ONLY describe and apply the 12 brand archetypes specifically to my ideal client and target audience, I found the process exciting and much more interesting.
In this post I’ll introduce each of the 12 brand archetypes briefly. But there are links to the full description of each brand archetype.
The Idealist brand archetype is future oriented, optimistic and views the world with a child-like wonder. She is an idealist who helps all of us see the silver lining and bright side of life. Her methods are always simple and straight-forward. Above all, her trustworthiness and unpretentious manner inspires people who are looking for a simple solution to their problems.
The Realist brand archetype isn’t an optimist or a pessimist. She sees the world as it is, and is ready, willing and able to push up her sleeves and “get to work” on the problems she sees. She is friends, casual and very approachable. She creates and cultivates alliances and is the true egalitarian of the world. She believes that everyone deserves a seat at the table and seeks to provide inspiration and resources for anyone in her tribe looking to better their lives. As you would expect, her way of leading is through consensus, believing the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
The Hero brand archetype can also be called the mover and shaker of the group. She is a dynamo who is goal-oriented and achievement focused. When she sets her mind to something, look out! People gravitate to her no-nonsense style and ability to get things done. She believes that everyone can succeed when given the right tools, motivation and knowledge. She is the perfect role model for this, and takes her responsibility seriously.
The Caregiver brand archetype has her arms and heart wide open. She is the nurturer and helper of the group, with a desire to serve. Another aspect of the Caregiver is one of protection for others – from harm, chaos, and failure. Usually found at the center of a group or community, she rarely leads in the traditional sense of the word and never takes center stage. People look up to her because of her innate desire to be of service to others.
The Seeker brand archetype seeks evolution and authenticity through new experiences, growth, expansion and freedom. As the name implies, she is constantly looking towards the horizong (whether internally or externally) to something NEW. She lives by the beat of her own drum and life on her own terms. Simply by being authentically who she is, she serves as a role model and inspiration for others to do the same.
The Lover brand archetype seeks deep connection with others through shared experiences. She wants to feel special and wants to help those she cares for feel special too. An innate lover of beauty, she creates it in all aspects of her environment. She is passionate about people and experiences and wants to connect deeply with them.
The Rebel brand archetype wants to push the world forward, to bigger and better things. It is in her nature to always be striving, stirring things up, looking to tear down what isn’t working and build something new. Consequently, she can be quite provocative, but ultimately is one of the most important archetypes in the group. Without her, society would stagnate and die. All entrepreneurs have at least a little of this archetype influencing their lives.
The Creator brand archetype is unconventional and always looking for unique and authentic ways to express herself. This expression can come through more traditional artistic forms such as art, writing, music, dance and performance. However, it can also show up anywhere and with anyone who looks at the world in unique and different ways and intensely desires to create something new. Through her ingenuity, imagination and risk-taking boldness, she inspires others to find their own creative spark.
The main aspiration of the Alchemist brand archetype is mindfulness and transformation. She is the true visionary of the group who believes in the possibility of creating her own reality. However she knows real and meaningful change only occurs when she transforms the way she perceives and interprets her world. Her faith in her ability to improve herself and her life is unshakeable. When she creates a life that is truly balanced in all areas of her life ( physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and creative) she experiences the transcendent power and grace that she seeks.
The Sage brand archetype is intelligent, wise, and perceptive. She is usually an expert in one or more arenas and unselfishly wants to be able to pass her knowledge and experience onto others. Her grace comes in her self-reflection (inward knowing) and intelligence (outward knowing). She uses both synergistically to better understand the world, and pass that knowledge and understanding onto others.
The Ruler brand archetype leads, creates order and structures, and provides prosperity, security and stability. She is goal-oriented and wants to create a better world for her business, community and clients. Using her skills and adeptness at leadership for the good of the community, she inspires others to take responsibility for their lives and be the best they can be. As a result, she acts as a positive role model for success.
The Jester brand archetype is vivacious, cheeky and irreverent. She teaches us to enjoy life, appreciate what we have, and live in the present moment as it is a precious gift. Life’s problems are easy to face when the playful enthusiast is around. Ultimately, it is her belief that she will be appreciated and even adored for truly being herself. So she lives life with a “no holds barred” attitude, bringing the party wherever she goes.
How to Find Your Own Brand Archetype?
You may see yourself and your business/brand in many or all of the descriptions. Very few brands fall cleanly into one brand archetype. Many are a combination of 2 or more.
But don’t muddy the waters of your brand. It should be as clear and focused as possible. For that reason, its best to stick to 1 or at most, 2 archetypes to represent your brand.
Because you are a solo business owner, you should also not try to incorporate an archetype into your brand that has very little to do with your own personality. You can only “fake it” for so long. You’re not a multi-million dollar conglomerate with 1000s of employees. A large organization like that can DECIDE and then IMPLEMENT any brand personality they choose.
But you’re a business of ONE. You are the face, heart and soul of your business. Consequently, although your business brand archetype doesn’t have to be the same as your personal archetype (mine isn’t). It shouldn’t be something that plays almost no role in your own personality.
In the coming weeks, I will provide more information to help anyone figure out the brand archetype for the business, and then begin to incorporate it into their own branding.
- Until then, read over the complete description linked to above. Take a look at the Pinterest boards for each archetype and see if any of those collections really speak to you.
- Take a look at the image collection I’ve curated on Pexels and Unsplash.
- Listen to some of the Spotify playlists I’ve curated for each archetype to see if any of them stand out for you as a favorite.
- Keep an open mind about the possibility as to which archetype truly represents your brand – and look at it from the perspective of your CLIENT instead of the one YOU want to represent your business.
- Ask a few trusted clients (or close family/friends if you don’t have any clients yet) to honestly describe how they see you. You might be really surprised how clearly one of the archetypes is showing up for them, even if you don’t see it yet.
- Most of all, have fun with it. “Try one on” for a day or two and see how it feels.
- Pearson, Carol S. Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform the World. HarperOne, 2015.
- Hartwell, Margaret Pott., and Joshua C. Chen. Archetypes in Branding: a Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists. How Books, 2012.
- Mark, Margaret, and Carol S. Pearson. The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands through the Power of Archetypes. McGraw-Hill, 2001.
- Myss, Caroline M. Archetypes: Who Are You? Hay House, 2013.
- Myss, Caroline M. Archetype Cards: an 80-Card Deck with Instruction Booklet. Hay House, 2003.