Outlaw, Lover, Jester, Sage: What’s your brand archetype?

If you’re googling brand personality, one of the first terms you’ve no doubt come across is “brand archetypes”.

We don’t recommend archetypes as the most practical way to start defining your brand (find out why here, and try this Brand Personality Questionnaire to get much more specific in your thinking much faster).

But archetypes are useful to sharpen your personality to a crystal clear “topline” identity. And comparing other brands with the same archetype can provide creative inspiration as you explore how to express your personality across your business.

So what is a brand archetype?

It’s an idea based on Carl Jung’s theory that humans divide into different personality types, with different emotional priorities and needs. Because we subconsciously recognise these traits in others, marketers have found archetypes a useful way to view brands as well. Embody the traits of an archetype in your brand and the public will subconsciously associate with your business all the feelings they have about every other person or brand they know with that archetype.

Most brands fall within 1 or 2 of the following 12 archetypes:

1. The Ruler 

2. The Hero

3. The Outlaw

4. The Caregiver

5. The Lover

6. The Regular Jo

7. The Jester

8. The Sage

9. The Creator

10. The Explorer

11. The Magician

12. The Innocent

The Ruler

Top dog in their category and happy to be seen that way because that means they are in control of life. They symbolize excellence and power. The brand you buy if you want the best.

Think: Mercedes Benz, Microsoft, Rolex, Hugo Boss.

The Hero

An active and courageous high-achiever. They have a reputation for excellence like Ruler brands. But they master their fields not to control life, but to help others. (That may come through inspiration or efficient service rather than a literal social mission).

Think: Nike, FedEx, Beyond Meat

The Outlaw

The rebel who goes their own way, challenging conventions, and breaking rules with no care for what the establishment thinks of them.

Think: Harley Davidson, Virgin, Sea Shepherd

The Caregiver

The open-hearted nurturer, who exists purely to look after your wellbeing and make you feel secure.

Think: Johnson & Johnson, Unicef, Nivea

The Lover

The sensuous object of desire, promising beauty, intimacy and indulgence.

Think: Lindt, Victoria’s Secret, Chanel

The Regular Jo

Unpretentious, realistic and relatable, this brand gets you because they’re just like you. They’re a reliable staple of everyday life.

Think: Ikea, Bunnings

The Jester

Spontaneous joker who refuse to take life seriously. Where the Innocent’s brand is based around happiness, the Jester is based around fun. Often the number 2 in a category, like Hungry Jack’s and Pepsi, assume this identity as a way to reframe the conversation and take a few friendly shots at their rival along the way…

Think: BuzzFeed, M&Ms

The Sage

We’re talking Yoda here. Wise symbols of knowledge, committed to truth and helping others gain a deeper understanding of the world.

Think: Google, TED, The Economist

The Creator

The innovator with a vision for a better world, achieved by building beautiful new things and, often, new opportunities for self-expression

Think: Lego, Apple, Tesla

The Explorer

The independent adventurer who values discovery, and takes the road less travelled (or leaves the road all together) to achieve freedom through a more authentic life.

Think: Patagonia, Jeep, National Geographic

The Magician

This spiritual or imaginative transformer has the secret knowledge to make dreams come true and your problems disappear.

Think: Honda, Disney, Sony

The Innocent

The positive optimist who finds joy in life’s small moments. They appreciate simplicity and have faith in the freedom that comes with being yourself.

Think: McDonalds, Dove, Nudie

So what archetype is your brand?

But more importantly, what will you do with that answer once you reach it?

You need to embody your archetype in the way your brand looks, sounds and acts. In everything from your logo to the way you say goodbye to a customer as they walk out the door.

It’s in those specifics where we think brand archetypes don’t provide all the answers. Luckily, there are other ways to define your personality that will help you decide those things. Check out this article for our recommended approach: Find Your Four.

Want help defining your brand personality? Or a full Brand Style Guide that brings consistency across your business and helps communicate the brand to your team?