Archetypes in Branding

The Key to Developing Brand Persona

Archetypes in Branding

The key in developing brand persona

People have personalities. Brands have personalities. If you want to build a successful brand, you must be skillful about matching your brand to your market. Archetypes not only give a brand a personality and assign it a personification, they also reveal how a brand shows up in the world, how it is motivated and what triggers it. Very simply, archetypes can facilitate the understanding of a brand, and identify why it attracts certain customers. Then you attract those customers because your brand is congruent with an archetype that is either dominant or emerging in their consciousness.

What are Archetypes?

The definition of archetypes according to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms is a symbol, theme, setting or character-type that recurs in different times and places in myth, literature,folklore, dreams and rituals so frequently or prominently as to suggest (to certain speculative psychologists and critics) that it embodies some essential element of ‘Universal’ Human Experience.

The Connection Between Archetypes and a Brand

Once a brand archetype has been defined and it is clear who a brand is and what it does, there can be a better understanding of how that brand lives within the intended market. An understanding of who a brand is, what it does, and how it does it, can clearly connect with a target market. If we accept that all archetypes contain the most broad and diverse stories shared by all of humanity, then using them correctly will give the ability to connect with any audience no matter their age, sex, or cultural background. Archetypal stories ignite emotional responses that run the full gamut. It’s the difference between a bottle of soda and a bottle of Coke.

Example of an Archetype in Marketing

Apple Computer’s “Big Brother is watching” Macintosh debut ad, Ridley Scott’s iconic sixty-second spot, which aired during the 1984 Super Bowl is probably one of the most studied in U.S. marketing. To refresh your memory, it opens to an ominous black-and-white scene of robot-like people in some sort of indoctrination process. A woman athlete runs into the auditorium pursued by riot police/storm troopers. She hurls a large hammer into the screen, which explodes into a bright light and a whoosh of air. The voice-over declares, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”— Archetype in play: The Hero, The Rebel

What brands are using archetypes?

ArchetypeBrand Name
CargiverAllstate Insurance
CitizenTOMS Shoes
ExplorerLand Rover
JesterGeico Insurance
RebelHarley Davidson
SovereignMercedes Benz


Developing an Archetype for your Brand.

Selecting an Archetype for your organization or product is a delicate process that stretches far beyond a new logo or color scheme. At The Creative Bar we have a collaborative Archetype workshop as part of our branding process. If you would like to hear more or have questions about the process, we would love to hear from you.