Consumer Psychology: Using Brand Archetypes to Build a Connection With Your Consumers

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The recipe to success for any business involves several key ingredients: an in-demand product/service, excellent copy, social proof and, most importantly, a brand identity that your consumers can connect to. If your consumers can’t distinguish you from your competitors, you can wave them goodbye. Fortunately, we’ve got the shortcut to success: using brand archetypes.

We will explain what brand archetypes are and why they’re so vital. We’ll then show you how to use them to define your brand, connect to potential consumers and improve your copywriting. Let’s go!


Table of contents

What are brand archetypes?

Blue question mark and a pink backgroundImage source: Towfiqu barbhuiya (via Unsplash)

Psychologist Carl Jung defined archetypes as universal symbols and images that derive from the unconscious mind. In other words, humans can subconsciously identify and categorise people according to their traits, values and actions. This allows us to watch a film like Star Wars and automatically determine that Luke Skywalker is the hero and Darth Vader is the villain.

This work was later expanded upon by marketers Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson (“The Hero and The Outlaw“), who believed that brands could take advantage of the effect that archetypes have on the subconscious mind to connect to consumers on an emotional level.

There are countless archetypes in the world, but for simplicity, Mark and Pearson reduced it down to 12 distinct brand archetypes:

  • Caregiver
  • Creator
  • Everyman
  • Explorer
  • Hero
  • Innocent
  • Jester
  • Lover
  • Magician
  • Outlaw
  • Ruler
  • Sage

These brand archetypes are based on innate human desires, values and behaviours. They tie into your brand identity, personality and voice, not to mention how your target audience perceives your brand and connects to you.

Why should I use brand archetypes?

👉 To connect to your audience

The power of archetypes lies in their ability to be identifiable and relatable to your target audience. When consumers can recognise a brand’s values and personality and potentially align them with their own, they’re more likely to make a purchase and connect with you.

👉 To understand your brand

Whether you’re a new business, or a brand looking to reposition itself, you need to understand who you are. This includes your personality traits, goals and, generally, how you want to present your brand to the outside world. With archetypes, you can build an organic brand identity and accompanying narrative.

👉 To write better copy

Defining your brand archetype gives your copywriting team a better understanding of your tone of voice and marketing goals. Once they know who you are, they can supercharge their copy to reflect your brand identity and bridge the gap between your business and your audience.

The 12 brand archetypes

1. The Caregiver

Example of the Caregiver brand archetypeImage source: Rémi Walle (via Unsplash)

The Caregiver archetype is selfless, compassionate and generous. They are driven by the desire to nurture, protect and help people—providing physical and/or emotional support through their products/services. Caregiver brands typically prioritise doing good over making a profit and take preventative measures to protect their consumers.

“From the Day You’re Born, Johnson & Johnson Never Stops Taking Care of You.” – Johnson & Johnson

Tone of voice:

Reassuring
Warm
Caring

Example industries:

Healthcare
Non-profits
Education

Example brands:

Johnson & Johnson
Pampers
Boots

2. The Creator

Example of the Creator brand archetypeImage source: Anna Kolosyuk (via Unsplash)

The Creator archetype is artistic, imaginative and unique. They are driven by the desire to innovate and create something valuable and long-lasting. These brands want to share these creations with their consumers to encourage them to embrace their creativity and express their individuality.

“Empowering the World to Design.” – Canva

Tone of voice:

Inspirational
Daring
Passionate

Example industries:

Technology
Marketing
Art & Design

Example brands:

Lego
Canva
Adobe

3. The Everyman

Example of the Everyman brand archetypeImage source: Andriyko Podilnyk (via Unsplash)

The Everyman archetype is down-to-earth, humble and reliable. Everyman brands want to connect with their consumers and make them feel like it’s okay to be normal—giving them the chance to feel like they’re part of an inclusive community. Ultimately, it’s all about creating a sense of belonging.

“Creating a Better Everyday Life for the Many People.” – Ikea

Tone of voice:

Friendly
Humorous
Authentic

Example industries:

Home
Food
Apparel

Example brands:

B&Q
Aldi
Ikea

4. The Explorer

Example of the Explorer brand archetypeImage source: Alexandra Mirgheș (via Unsplash)

The Explorer archetype is adventurous, daring and brave. These brands encourage their consumers to seek new experiences, push their limits, and explore the unknown. They want to challenge their audience and inject them with enough confidence to take action.

“Never Stop Exploring.” – The North Face

Tone of voice:

Daring
Exciting
Fearless

Example industries:

Sports
Outdoor equipment
Travel

Example brands:

The North Face
Red Bull
Trivago

5. The Hero

Example of the Hero brand archetypeImage source: Esteban Lopez (via Unsplash)

The Hero archetype is brave, determined, strong and bold. They are driven by the desire to achieve greatness and save the day. If you couldn’t tell from our superhero branding and dynamic copy, Supersede Media relates entirely to the hero archetype—vowing to help all businesses far and wide achieve their marketing goals and dreams!

“Just Do It.” – Nike

Tone of voice:

Brave
Bold
Trustworthy

Example industries:

Sportswear
Outdoor equipment
Emergency services

Example brands:

Nike
Adidas
Duracell

6. The Innocent

Example of the Innocent brand archetypeImage source: Christina Anne Costello (via Unsplash)

The Innocent archetype is optimistic, youthful and authentic. They’re a happy-go-lucky archetype that desires happiness and honesty above all else—wanting people to be their authentic selves without a care in the world. They see the beauty in the world around them and want their consumers to follow suit.

“Beauty is For Everyone.” – Dove

Tone of voice:

Optimistic
Honest
Friendly

Example industries:

Skincare
Beauty
Food

Example brands:

Dove
Innocent Drinks
Extra

7. The Jester

Example of the Jester brand archetypeImage source: Thomas Park (via Unsplash)

The Jester is funny, light-hearted and playful. The class clown of the brand archetypes, Jester brands are all about having fun, living life to the fullest, and not taking themselves too seriously. They want to share their laughter and joy with their consumers and appeal to their inner child.

“Smell Like a Man, Man.” – Old Spice

Tone of voice:

Upbeat
Witty
Playful

Example industries:

Entertainment
Food
Home

Example brands:

Old Spice
Lynx
M&Ms

8. The Lover

Example of the Lover brand archetypeImage source: Mayur Gala (via Unsplash)

The Lover archetype is affectionate, passionate and empathetic. They are driven by the desire to help consumers find human connection and intimacy—encompassing romantic, familial and spiritual closeness. Lover brands also appeal to their consumers’ need to feel desirable and attractive.

“Date, Meet, Network Better.” – Bumble

Tone of voice:

Sensual
Intimate
Empathetic

Example industries:

Food
Perfume
Dating

Example brands:

Marks & Spencer
Bumble
Jean-Paul Gaultier

9. The Magician

Example of the Magician brand archetypeImage source: Loris Marie (via Unsplash)

The Magician archetype is inspirational, charismatic and mysterious. These brands want to make their consumers’ dreams come true and transform their lives for the better. They walk a fine line; the wrong exaggeration or claim could make the difference between being perceived as a positive catalyst for change and a complete liar.

“Where Dreams Come True.” – Disney

Tone of voice:

Inspirational
Mysterious
Exciting

Example industries:

Entertainment
Media
Health & wellbeing

Example brands:

Disney
Nintendo
Dyson

10. The Outlaw

Example of the Outlaw brand archetypeImage source: Jakayla Toney (via Unsplash)

Also known as the Rebel, the Outlaw archetype is bold, disruptive and energetic. These brands are looking to buck tradition, defy the status quo and encourage others to embrace the freedom of individuality and choice. They want to empower their consumers, make them non-conformers and inject them with a bit of attitude.

“Live to Ride. Ride to Live.” – Harley-Davidson

Tone of voice:

Rebellious
Edgy
Unapologetic

Example industries:

Automotive
Apparel
Food and drink

Example brands:

Doc Martens
Harley-Davidson
Jack Daniels

11. The Ruler

Example of the Ruler brand archetypeImage source: Roland Denes (via Unsplash)

The Ruler archetype is assertive, prestigious and confident. As you can guess from the name, these brands are all about exerting their dominance and authority over their industry. Though they value exclusivity and have an air of superiority, they want to give consumers the secrets of their success so that they too can feel influential and respected.

“The Best or Nothing.” – Mercedes-Benz

Tone of voice:

Refined
Authoritative
Eloquent

Example industries:

Automotive
Watch manufacturers
Luxury apparel

Example brands:

Mercedes-Benz
Rolex
Hugo Boss

12. The Sage

Example of the Sage brand archetypeImage source: Siora Photography (via Unsplash)

The Sage archetype is wise, thoughtful and curious. These brands are driven by the desire to understand the world around them and share their knowledge with consumers. They rest easy knowing that every piece of wisdom they offer to their audience will help to change the world for the better.

“Ideas Worth Spreading.” – TED

Tone of voice:

Informative
Encouraging
Thoughtful

Example industries:

Education
Media
News

Example brands:

Google
BBC
TED

Using brand archetypes

Now you know what brand archetypes are, we can show you how to use them to understand your brand better, make an emotional connection with your consumers and improve your copy.

👉 Define your brand archetypes

You’ll first want to determine which brand archetype(s) your business aligns with. Before you proclaim that you are a Magician or an Outlaw, you’ll need to consider your decision carefully.

Your chosen archetype(s) will depend on various factors…

  • Your industry: as we’ve highlighted, some archetypes are better suited to specific industries. You can break the mould by picking an unusual archetype for your sector, but you’ll need to ensure you don’t alienate anyone.
  • Your values: the foundation of your archetype is based on your company’s values and goals. Are you looking to improve people’s health and wellbeing or trying to promote learning? Do you want to shape futures or aid in the day-to-day?
  • Your consumers: your brand archetype and its associated personality and values must align with your target market. You won’t be able to make an emotional connection with them if they don’t identify with your brand.
  • Your competitors: you’ll likely find that most of your competitors align with the same archetype. This means that you’ll need to either pick an entirely different one, or find a way to make it more unique.

Though some brands can pick a single archetype easily, most will likely end up with a primary and a secondary archetype.

Supersede Media is a Hero and a Magician brand. We are driven by the desire to save the day with SEO and content creation and transform the fortunes of businesses!

Will my consumers align with my archetypes?

It’s easy to jump the gun here by assuming that your consumers will fall into the same archetypes as your brand. In some cases, you might be right—Explorer brands like The North Face, for example, attract a lot of like-minded fellow Explorers looking for outdoor adventure.

As with everything marketing-related, however, it’s not always so cut and dry. The people you’re trying to attract might not be as easily defined as your brand. People who are easily bored and love to have fun, in other words, Jesters, might also be attracted to Explorer brands or like the idea of playing the role of Ruler.

Though you should consider which archetypes your consumers align with, you should also utilise your buyer personas and psychographics.

👉 Find your unique identity

Brand archetypes are merely the foundation of your brand’s identity, and it’s up to you to determine how to interpret them so that you stand out from the crowd and connect with your consumers.

To find out who you are, you should brainstorm with your marketing and copywriting teams and pick out the themes, symbols and emotions you want to convey. This, in turn, will help you:

  • Create a mood board
  • Discover your colour palette
  • Find your tone of voice
  • Hone your brand’s language
  • Generate your visuals and typography

Though you want to stand out from your competitors, bear in mind that going too far outside the box may alienate your consumers. You’ll also need to remember that each choice is a piece of your brand’s jigsaw puzzle—it all must fit together to work.

👉 Supercharge your copy and make that connection

Now that you have a better handle on your brand’s story and how you want to present yourself to your consumers, it’s time to revamp your copy and make that emotional connection!

Though getting rid of your old copy might be time-consuming and upsetting, you might find this process more manageable if you start from scratch. This will stop you from slipping back into your old identity and ensure you’re being consistent with your new authentic self.

With a clear brand identity and stronger messaging, you give consumers a chance to connect with and relate to you. Rather than seeing a faceless brand looking to take their money, they will focus on your traits, values and passions.

Final thoughts

It is simply not enough to have a good product and website nowadays. To truly reel in your consumers, you need to connect to them on a deeper level to drive them to take action. There is no better way to do this than to develop a distinct, identifiable personality through brand archetypes.

With a strong brand identity, you can attract consumers who share your values, create a solid and loyal customer base, and improve brand awareness.

 

More on Consumer Psychology…

Looking for more insights into the minds of your consumers and ways to influence their buying behaviour? Check out the other instalments in our Consumer Psychology series…

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