Archetypes are everywhere. Once you start noticing them, it can be difficult to stop. From familiar character types in movies to advertisements for your favorite brands, archetypes show up constantly. You might think that they’d be hard to spot, but they’re hiding in plain sight. All that’s required is that you take the time to focus when watching commercials or look at characters a little more closely.
The 12 Archetypes
The late Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed the 12 different archetypes that tend to show up in every story. Archetypes are elemental ideas, feelings, fantasies, and visions. Archetypes can help define a brand and also help lead customers to develop a meaningful relationship with them.
Built deep into our unconscious self is an inner guide that controls decision-making. Connecting to archetypes helps bring this inner guide to the surface. Jung’s 12 archetypes can help tell the story of a brand, making your brand more immediately accessible and (hopefully) desirable.
Stability and Control: The Creator, The Caregiver, and The Ruler
The Creator, Caregiver, and Ruler archetype all desire control and stability.
Brands developed for the art, design, entertainment, fashion, and music industries typically use this archetype to connect to their audience. The Creator has a desire to create something of value, taking a vision and turning it into stunning reality. This is why those in the art and design industry, where self-expression is encouraged, normally leverage the Creator to reach their target audience.
One brand that leaps to mind when considering the Creator archetype is Instagram. Instagram is an entertaining brand, yes, but it also provides tools and support for users who aspire to create their own content.
Teachers, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa. These represent the sort of people that come to mind when thinking about the Caregiver. Brands in the healthcare and hospitality industry, charities, and education make regular use of this archetype.
Subaru does a great job of capturing the Caregiver archetype. The Subaru brand demonstrates its caregiving by offering valuable vehicles that keep your family safe. Subaru is trying to speak directly to those who care a great deal about security, which is why the Caregiver is its archetype of choice.
The Ruler archetype likes to take control by avoiding chaos and taking on leadership roles. William Shakespeare mastered the Ruler archetype and employed it frequently through characters such as Othello and King Lear.
Brands that offer high-status products, such as Rolex, along with travel agencies, hotels, luxury cars, and fashion often rely upon the Ruler archetype. When considering the Ruler archetype, think about brands that are powerful and offer up a prosperous lifestyle that includes their products. The Ruler is a boss, a leader, and an impressive role model.
Belonging and Enjoyment: The Jester, The Everyman, and The Lover
The Jester, Everyman, and Lover archetypes all strive for enjoyment and to belong.
Someone who embraces the Jester archetype is all about having fun, being optimistic, and looking for the good in every situation. You only live once, the Jester believes. Since we aren’t here for a long time, the Jester believes in making every moment a good time filled with laughter.
Brands in the entertainment, child services, alcohol, and food industry lean towards the Jester archetype. Consider ads you’ve seen for Dominos. This pizza company is constantly trying to lighten up our lives with funny commercials that simultaneously promote their product. Men’s brands such as Old Spice and Dollar Shave Club also incorporate the Jester into their ad campaigns.
Most people just want to feel like they belong somewhere. The Everyman is the most relatable archetype as this person makes others feel like they are part of a larger group. Brands that offer basic apparel, cleaning supplies, and other products for everyday family life benefit from their use of the Everyman archetype.
Stores like Target, Old Navy, and Ikea stand out as examples. Old Navy, for its part, uses commercials with people of all ages and backgrounds dancing together. The point is to show that everyone is part of a tribe and fits in, and isn’t that what so many of us desire?
Think of the Lover archetype as a hopeless romantic. Cosmetics, fashion, pet supplies, and luxury brands all make heavy use of the Lover archetype. The Lover desires to connect and interact on an intimate level. Chocolate brands also use this archetype because they offer a sensual and pleasurable experience.
Not only does Chanel represent the Lover archetype, but so did Marilyn Monroe. When Chanel produced an ad featuring Marilyn Monroe, they created a double-whammy that effectively nailed the Lover archetype.
Risk and Mastery: The Hero, The Outlaw, and The Magician
Archetypes who desire to take risks and be the master of every situation include The Hero, The Outlaw, and The Magician.
Obviously, our culture’s ongoing fascination with superheroes stands as a testament to the Hero archetype. Sports figures and heroes from the armed forces enjoy similar accessibility. Brands in the sports, outdoors, and fitness industry typically utilize the Hero archetype. Nike is perhaps the most well-known Hero brand, but they are far from alone.
Even Duracell batteries use the Hero archetype. Whenever there is an emergency and a flashlight or other life-saving device is needed, the consumer can count on Duracell to provide long-lasting energy that works when you need it.
From Red Bull to MTV, brands often use the Outlaw archetype to promote fashion, music, alcohol, energy, and extreme sports.
The Outlaw archetype believes in disruptive change. The goal is to destroy whatever is clearly not working and fulfill the desire for revenge and revolution.
Magic is all around us and The Magician seeks to capture and channel that magic. Brands in the fitness, health, beauty, and entertainment industry all use The Magician to foster fantastic, eye-popping moments. The Energizer Bunny is magical because it just keeps going and going, somehow defying our expectations of normal battery life.
Guinness is a great example of Magician branding with its use of powerful imagery and a secretive product. We are told that there is a deep mystery surrounding the ingredients of this beer. Coupled with the mesmerizing past of the brand, Guinness makes effective use of the Magician archetype.
Independence and Fulfillment: The Innocent, The Explorer, and The Sage
The Innocent, Explorer, and Sage archetype look for independence and fulfillment.
Think of industries that offer organic and healthy products, along with brands in the food, beauty, and cleaning industry. One brand that sticks out when thinking about the Innocent archetype is Toys R Us. Even though this toy retailer is no longer around, their TV jingles still stick in our minds. The Toys R Us mascot was an innocent giraffe and his family that took consumers back to their childhood every time we saw them.
Seeking new experiences and going on journeys is what the Explorer archetype is all about. Brands in the extreme sports, outdoor, travel, and SUV industry make use of the Explorer archetype by providing products that set people free to go on exciting adventures. The Explorer finds himself or herself by exploring the world boldly and experiencing life to its fullest.
The Sage archetype is focused on understanding the world around us. Sages desire to discover the truth and use their knowledge to better the world. Industries like mass media, education, literature, science, and engineering all provide wisdom and self-awareness, making effective use of the Sage archetype.
For example, both Google and CNN make use of the Sage archetype. The Dalai Lama is one well-known representative of the Sage archetype as he seeks to provide the deep insight needed to make sense of our world.
Need some help jump-starting your brand through the use of archetypes? Many branding agencies can help you get started by holding a branding workshop. These workshops can help you correctly identify your brand’s archetype and know how to incorporate it into your brand.