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  • Brand Archetypes

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    The 12 Brand Archetypes: Hero, Rebel, Caregiver, Sage…

    There are 12 classic archetypes. These cover the spectrum, from those that convey comfort to others to those that create excitement. Choosing the right archetype for your business is essential. But first, review the classic archetypes and understand their role in creating a deep connection with their target market.

    The Innocent
    Goal: To be happy
    Traits: Strives to be good, is pure, young, optimistic, simple, moral, romantic, loyal
    Drawback: Could be naïve or boring
    Marketing niche: Companies with strong values, seen as trustworthy, reliable and honest, associated with morality, good virtues, simplicity, can be nostalgic
    Example: Dove soap, Coca-Cola, Cottonelle bathroom tissue

    The Regular Guy or Gal
    Goal: To belong, or connect with others
    Traits: Down to earth, supportive, faithful, folksy, person next door, connects with others
    Drawback: Could lack a distinctive identity and blend in too much
    Marketing niche: Common touch, solid virtues, gives a sense of belonging
    Example: Home Depot, eBay

    The Hero
    Goal: Help to improve the world
    Traits: Courageous, bold, honorable, strong, confident, inspirational
    Drawback: Could be arrogant or aloof
    Marketing niche: Make a positive mark on the world, solve major problems or enable/inspire others to do so
    Example: Nike, BMW, Duracell

    The Outlaw
    Goal: Break the rules and fight authority
    Traits: Rebellious, iconoclastic, wild, paving the way for change
    Drawback: Could take it too far and be seen in a negative way
    Marketing niche: Agent of change, advocate for the disenfranchised, allow people to vent or break with conventions
    Example: Harley-Davidson, Virgin (Richard Branson)

    The Explorer
    Goal: Finds fulfillment through discovery and new experiences
    Traits: Restless, adventurous, ambitious, individualistic, independent, pioneering
    Drawback: Might not fit into the mainstream
    Marketing niche: Exciting, risk-taking, authentic
    Example: Indiana Jones, Jeep, Red Bull

    The Creator
    Goal: Create something with meaning and enduring value
    Traits: Creative, imaginative, artistic, inventive, entrepreneur, non-conformist
    Drawback: Could be perfectionistic or impractical
    Marketing niche: Visionary, help customers express or create, and foster their imagination
    Example: Lego, Crayola

    The Ruler
    Goal: Control, create order from chaos
    Traits: Leader, responsible, organized, role model, administrator
    Drawback: Could lack a common connection, or be too authoritative or controlling
    Marketing niche: Help people become more organized, restore order, create more stability and security in a chaotic world
    Example: Microsoft, Barclays, Mercedes-Benz

    The Magician
    Goal: Make dreams come true, create something special
    Traits: Visionary, charismatic, imaginative, idealistic, spiritual
    Drawback: Could take risks that lead to bad outcomes
    Marketing niche: Help people transform their world, inspire change, expand consciousness
    Example: Disney, Wizard of Oz, Apple

    The Lover
    Goal: Create intimacy, inspire love
    Traits: Passionate, sensual, intimate, romantic, warm, committed, idealistic
    Drawback: Could be too selfless or not grounded enough
    Marketing niche: Help people feel appreciated, belong, connect, enjoy intimacy, build relationships
    Example: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolate, Marie Claire

    The Caregiver
    Goal: To care for and protect others
    Traits: Caring, maternal, nurturing, selfless, generous, compassionate
    Drawback: Being taken advantage of, taken for granted, or exploited
    Marketing niche: Help people care for themselves, serve the public through health care, education or aid programs
    Example: Mother Theresa, Campbell’s Soup, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz

    The Jester
    Goal: To bring joy to the world
    Traits: Fun, sense of humor, light-hearted, mischievous, irreverent
    Drawback: Could be seen as frivolous or disrespectful
    Marketing niche: Help people have a good time or enjoy what they are doing, allow people to be more impulsive and spontaneous
    Example: Motley Fool, Ben & Jerry’s, IKEA

    The Sage
    Goal: To help the world gain wisdom and insight
    Traits: Knowledgeable, trusted source of information, wisdom and intelligence, thoughtful, analytical, mentor, guru, advisor
    Drawback: Could be overly contemplative or too opinionated
    Marketing niche: Help people to better understand the world, provide practical information and analysis
    Example: BBC, PBS, Google, Philips

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    Review these archetypes and consider what might be most appropriate to apply to your business.

    Next steps:

    • Study the best examples of brands that apply archetypes well. Do you identify with any of them? Which archetype is your company most like?
    • Thoughtfully consider your company’s image and how your customers interact with, think of and feel about your company to determine the most suitable and compelling archetype.
    • These articles provide detailed descriptions of the 12 archetypes. Read them and consider how you might apply one to create a compelling archetype for your brand.