Branding Archetypes—And Why They Work
What is an archetype?
An archetype is an easily recognizable package into which a brand’s personality fits. If your brand were a person, what would that person be like? Would he or she be the life of the party or someone who is more subdued? An archetype is a figure who consistently recurs in literature and art, across cultures. When we encounter these familiar characters, they evoke deep feelings within us. We know them and can subconsciously recognize them.
Why are archetypes important?
A defined archetype should help you create messaging and design that will connect emotionally with your target audience. Archetypes assign human characteristics to your brand, which makes it easier for audiences to relate to it. Every brand has a story to tell. In this story, an archetype creates an immediate familiarity between your brand’s character and the audience.
What are the benefits of using an archetype?
There are several reasons to research and assign the right archetype to your organization.
- Archetypes bring authenticity to your organization. By humanizing your business, they can make it easier for your consumers to trust your brand.
- Archetypes clarify your organization’s purpose. Most organizations have some sense of what they do, but not their purpose. Perhaps it’s a non-profit that feeds the homeless. Feeding people is what they do. Providing a sense of normalcy, community, and support is their purpose.
- Archetypes drive your brand’s voice. Copy can be created with the archetype’s values and traits in mind. When your archetype is authentic to your brand, your audience will recognize this and be drawn in.
- Archetypes direct your brand visually. Design and logos can form out of an archetype. Then these visual design elements act as another personality trait of the brand.
- Archetypes add uniqueness and help your organization stand out. When you have your brand’s archetype, personality, and tone clearly defined, you are better equipped to outshine your competition.
A Look at the Wheel
There are 12 common archetypes used in marketing. To learn a bit about each one, take a look at this wheel graphic from Find8.
Use Your Senses
To determine which archetype is the best fit for your business, use some of the basic human senses. Ask yourself these questions.
- If your brand were a person, what would that person look like? Do you envision your brand as a male or female? What type of clothing would your brand wear? Would their style be vintage, hipster, and trendy—or practical, comfortable, and simplistic? What colors represent your brand?
- What would your brand sound like? Soft and dreamy? Loud and shocking? Clear and logical?
- If you could touch your brand, what would it feel like? Would it be made of wood, velvet, or metal? Is it warm and soft like a pillow? Rough and rustic like a brick? Smooth and cold like steel? Are the edges rounded, or is it sharp?
Your Favorite Characters as Archetypes
Answering these questions can really help you develop a more concrete view of the direction your brand will take. Another way to relate to these archetypes is to examine their presence in popular films and literature.
Archetypes are Effective
These characters are so recognizable. They’re iconic and memorable because they are strongly modeled after specific archetypes. Archetypes work because we see them all around us in the real world. We can instantly relate to them when they’re exaggerated and put on the big screen. The same goes for archetypes in branding. It’s practical, creates a lasting connection, and is worth looking into.