We’ve all experienced that amazing feeling of connecting on a deep level with someone we encounter that we can’t quite explain. Call it “vibing,” “connecting,” or “hitting it off,” but whatever we name it, it’s a feeling–but it’s “more than a feeling.” It’s also “more than words.” Songs like these have attempted to explain it, but what best explains the why behind these deep connections is the concept of archetypes.

Archetypes are defined as recurring patterns of behavior, personality traits, and symbols that have been identified in myth, storytelling, and literature across cultures and throughout history. Universal archetypes show up everywhere: in movies, in songs, and in stories.

Just as each human possesses distinct traits that make up their character, so do brands. A recent blog on grammarly.com called “How to Achieve Brand Consistency” defines a brand archetype as “a collection of impressions, experiences, and relationships a company creates with its customers.” For the history of archetypes and a more detailed definition, read our whitepaper on this topic.

By identifying and embracing the right brand archetype, a business can evoke specific emotions, build lasting connections with its audience, and establish a cohesive identity that resonates with customers on a profound level.

Let’s pursue why it’s important to identify your brand archetype and how doing so will allow you to organically attract people to your brand who get you and whose longings are fulfilled through your product or service.

While we won’t be overtly explaining the twelve core brand archetypes here, you can read our whitepaper on our website for more detail.

Why Uncover, Explore, and Develop Your Brand Archetype

1. You’ll connect on an emotional level with your target audience.

A clear brand archetype allows a business to tap into the emotional aspects of consumer behavior. Different archetypes evoke distinct emotions and resonate with specific values. By aligning the brand with a particular archetype, a business can connect with its target audience on a deeper level. Emotional connections often lead to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.

2. Because your brand will show up more consistently, it will be easier for consumers to understand and recognize your brand.

A clear brand archetype helps in maintaining a consistent and cohesive brand image across various touchpoints. Consistency is key to building trust and recognition among consumers. When a brand consistently portrays a specific archetype, it becomes easily recognizable and memorable. And brand recognition is a key way to build brand loyalty.

3. Establishing and maintaining a consistent archetypal brand identity will differentiate you from your competitors.

The chosen brand archetype contributes to how the business is perceived in the minds of consumers. It helps in positioning the brand in a way that aligns with the values and preferences of the target market and can influence consumer perceptions and impact purchasing decisions. A well-defined brand archetype helps in creating a unique identity that sets the business apart.

Establishing and portraying a clear brand archetype contributes to emotional connection, consistency, differentiation, and effective positioning in the market, all of which are crucial for building a strong and enduring brand.

How to determine your core brand archetype

1. If you haven’t already, get to know your brand.

You know the kinds of questions you ask when you’re just meeting someone to get to know them. You can get to know your brand by personifying it and asking the same kinds of questions.

So, let’s imagine your company as a person. Consider the following to paint your brand’s personality:

• What kind of living environment would your brand choose? Country, small town, big city, suburbia?

• What kind of vehicle would your brand or company drive? A sensible sedan, a fearless SUV, a sports car, a minivan?

• If your brand were going out for a meal, what kind of place would it choose? Would it be a sit-down chain restaurant, fast food, an independently owned restaurant, a farm-to-table establishment, or something else?

• Now it’s time to order. What would your brand select from the menu? Would it be comfort food, something adventurous, the latest trend, or the chef’s special?

• Don’t forget the drink! What might your brand order? A sensible glass of water, whatever everyone else is ordering, a unique mixed drink, or herbal tea?

• Now it’s time for dessert! Think about what your brand might do when faced with the “to dessert or not to dessert decision.” Pass, indulge, share one, or try everything?

Did we mention this is dinner followed by an activity? What kind of event would be your company’s activity of choice? Would it be a team-building night at the bowling alley, a competitive sport, an adventure like an escape room, or a concert of some sort? If it’s a concert, what star or what type of music would your brand vibe with?

Before we move on to your ideal client, consider the culture of your company. What is the overall feel of your company? Maybe it’s fun, adventurous, magical, individualistic, or team-based. Maybe it’s innovative or helpful.

2. Describe your ideal client or customer and what need your brand fulfills for that client.

A common marketing mistake is to say your brand is for “everyone.” The clearer you are on who your ideal client is, the greater the potential for establishing meaningful, enduring connections with your target audience. Get as specific as possible. Go beyond basic demographic markers such as age, gender, income, and education, and consider psychographics.

What are your ideal client’s interests and activities?
What do they care about?
What personality traits are common among your target audience?
What are their favorite places to shop?
What are their favorite brands?
What are their pain points and what are their core desires and aspirations?

Once you have done the work to determine who you are as a brand and who your ideal client is, you should have greater clarity. Now it’s time to determine your brand archetype.

What is your brand archetype?

In branding, there are twelve fundamental archetypes with several archetypes related to each of these categories. As you read the descriptions below or our article on these twelve archetypes, identify the two that most align with who you are as a brand and who your ideal client is.

Having done the preliminary work of getting to know your brand and your ideal client sets you on a path to discovering your brand archetype. Use your answers above to decide how your brand shows up and serves the world as a guide to help you determine which of these twelve archetypes is closest to your brand. If one seems close but not precisely on brand, we can help you learn about the archetypes that fall under each category to help you pinpoint yours!

By determining and exploring your brand archetype, you will be able to resonate with your ideal clients in ways that go well beyond your product or service into the realm of a deeper identity. You’ll have a clear compass that guides your brand and leads to deep connection with those you most want to reach.

The Twelve Foundational Brand Archetypes

The Caregiver
Goal: To help others
Traits: compassion, generosity, efficiency, patience, competence
Examples: George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Dove, Allstate Insurance

The Citizen
Goal: To belong
Traits: service, stewardship, contribution, moral leadership
Examples: John F. Kennedy, Habitat for Humanity, Chipotle

The Creator
Goal: To turn ideas into reality
Traits: imagination, developed sense of aesthetics, creativity, innovation
Examples: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Walt Disney, Etsy

The Explorer
Goal: to live an exciting and fulfilling life
Traits: innovation, ambition, independence, nonconformity
Examples: Huckleberry Finn, Star Trek, Starbucks

The Hero
Goal: to exert mastery in a way that improves the world
Traits: self-sacrifice, stamina, courage, continuous learner
Examples: Odysseus, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Nike

The Innocent
Goal: to be happy
Traits: sense of wonder, purity, trust, spontaneity
Examples: Forrest Gump, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Annie’s Homegrown Inc.

The Jester
Goal: to bring laughter, fun, and joy to the world
Traits: humor, originality, irreverence, social facileness
Examples: Tina Fey, The Cat in the Hat, Geico

The Companion
Goal: to build loving and committed relationships with others
Traits: loyalty, attention to detail, helpfulness, support
Examples: Lassie, Annie Sullivan, Zagat

The Magician
Goal: to turn dreams into reality
Traits: influence, cleverness, charisma, intuition
Examples: Benjamin Franklin, Willy Wonka, Apple

The Rebel
Goal: to overthrow what isn’t working
Traits: rule breaker, risk taker, progressive thinker, confidence
Examples: Malcolm X, James Dean, MTV

The Sage
Goal: to use intelligence to understand the world
Traits: wisdom, clarity, rationality, independence, gentleness
Examples: Homer, Yoda, The Smithsonian

The Ruler
Goal: to have control
Traits: power, confidence, leadership, command
Examples: Atlas, Rolls-Royce

If you’ like help connecting an archetypal identity to your brand for greater impact, contact us to see how we can partner with you to determine your brand archetype and bring your brand vision to life.

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