You know the problem: When you want to post something on social media, you ask yourself how you should best write the text. The same applies to your own website, what message you want to convey to your customers or how you want to address them. Brand archetypes help you find the right voice for your start-up or scale-up, so that the right customers feel addressed by you.
What are brand archetypes?
In the 1930s, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung developed the concept of archetypes. We all unconsciously have an idea of certain personality types and thus, even if we never consciously learned it, have an understanding of how a certain archetype behaves. In this Wikipedia article, you can learn more about how Carl Gustav Jung’s concept came about.
The foundation of your brand story
Archetypes are an important part of helping you communicate with your startup in a consistent and targeted way. There are over 325 archetypes, but the most popular ones you need for your brand are only 12 of them. But what are the 12 types and how should you use them for your startup or scale-up?
These are the well-known 12 brand archetypes
01 // Magician
02 // Hero
03 // Lover
04 // Jester
05 // Everyman
06 // Caregiver
07 // Impatient
08 // Ruler
09 // Sage
10 // Creator
11 // Rebel
12 // Explorer
You can get a very good overview on this website, where besides the description of each archetype, there are also examples of well-known brands that use these archetypes. For example, brands like Adidas, Nike, and FedEx use the hero as an archetype because it embodies courage and the desire to make a difference in the world. If you look at various Nike commercials, the hero can be found again and again in their communications.
In addition to the m&m’s brand, the Old Spice brand uses the jester as a brand archetype. Prior to 2010, Old Spice was in an identity crisis as they sought to appeal to a younger demographic. After a rebranding, the brand focused on new communication, so the new commercials went viral. The brand was presented in a completely new way and made people laugh. Old Spice went from being a boring brand to being the hottest brand on the Internet.
As a result, the old image was gone and sales skyrocketed.
The right mix makes it
But which brand archetype is the right one for your start-up or scale-up? First, you should define your values, your vision and the purpose of your brand. Once you have done this, it will be easier for you to determine a suitable archetype that fits your brand and shows you the way forward for brand communication.
When we develop the brand archetype together with clients within the Brand Strategy Sprint, we pay attention to a 30/70 mix. We have adopted this from this article, as it facilitates communication for the respective start-up or scale-up. A main archetype should be chosen that embodies 70% of your brand’s personality and 30% for the influencer archetype.
It is often the case that a main archetype (70%) must match an industry. If that is the case, the remaining 30% must get creative. However, the goal should be to clearly differentiate within the industry and choose a completely different brand archetype than competitors do.
Brand archetypes help you constantly give your brand a voice. Your customers, who share the same values and ideas as you, will be attracted to the appropriate archetypes. If you want to delve deeper into this topic, we can recommend the book „Archetypes in Branding“ by Margaret Pott Hartwell and Joshua C. Chen, as well as „The Hero and the outlaw“ by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson.