Tips to Build a Strong Brand Archetype

Focused brand archetypes are strongest

There are several additional factors to consider when building your brand archetype. The first factor is the industry or market niche that you are in. What is the brand archetype of your industry? What brand personality do your clients or customers expect from your industry? Consider this the foundation of your brand archetype. You want to make sure that your brand archetype mix doesn’t conflict or contradict this industry foundation.

Your goal is to use your specific archetype blend to stand out or differentiate yourself from the rest of the industry pack, not to alienate people. The Snarky Tea example from the second blog is a good example – it uses the rebel/maverick and jester archetypes as its influencer archetypes, which is atypical of the health and wellness industry. Their sassy attitude resonates with their customers, but it is done carefully to add a little zing to their personality. Other healthcare brands would have a very difficult time tapping into these two without offending or turning off their audiences.

Brand archetype post 3

The Snarky Tea brand archetype formula:

Snarky Tea sampler box

Snarky Tea sampler box

Industry: Health & Wellness

Common industry foundation archetypes:

Caregiver, Everyman, Sage, Innocent, Magician

Dominant Snarky Tea archetype: 


Snarky Tea influencer archetypes: 

Rebel and Jester

Start by identifying your industry's foundation archetypes

The foundation archetype is the basic archetype that your industry or market niche relies on the most to connect with people. Healthcare businesses often tap into the caregiver and sage/scientist archetypes as their foundation. High tech likes to use the sage/scientist, explorer or creative archetypes to project innovation for the future. Hotels and travel tap into the caregiver, lover or explorer archetypes, depending on their specific audience preferences.

Health-conscious food and beverages? Caregivers! Upscale, gourmet beverage and cosmetics appeal to our inner lovers. Beer brands like hang out with the everyman, rebel or even jester archetypes to connect to people who enjoy being a little different than the rest and have fun with their pack. Maybe even throw in a little hero archetype for the sports bar crowd.

Go for a test drive with your favorite automotive industry archetypes

The automotive industry is a fascinating example of foundation and brand archetypes. There are foundational archetypes that car or truck brands use over and over again, depending on their target audience. Let’s do a quick tour of our 12 core archetypes in action. Because people tend to identify emotionally with their vehicles, it is easy to detect the dominant and secondary brand archetypes that are at work.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

Trucks, SUVs and sports-related vehicles often have the explorer or rebel archetypes as their foundation. What pops into your mind when you think of Harley-Davidson motorcycles or Jeeps? Off-trail adventures into the wild blue yonder to get away from your dull office routine or coworkers that drive you crazy?

Both appeal to consumers who value independence and adventure, and pride themselves on having a rebellious streak or two. Like Frank Sinatra, they want to do life their way.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

Luxury vehicles tell a different story. They appeal to people who appreciate power, aesthetics and luxury. These are more representative of the ruler, magician and lover archetypes. Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz craft their branding stories to tap into these archetypes. These brands want to pamper you, make you feel in control and above the rest.

Photo by Megapixelstock from Pexels

Photo by Megapixelstock from Pexels

Sports cars appeal to the hero and explorer archetypes — or perhaps a mix of the hero, lover or explorer archetypes. Go fast, go in style, in the perfect racing machine. Jaguar is a blend of all three, while BMW focuses on the hero and explorer with its “perfect driving machine.”

Photo by İbrahim Hakkı Uçman from Pexels

Photo by İbrahim Hakkı Uçman from Pexels

And then you have the cars for the everywoman / communitarian archetypes. Social and environmental activists are attracted to the energy-efficient Prius hybrid. Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” want to be best friends with your neighborhood regular gal/guy, with a little jester fun and thrills thrown in to keep life interesting.

 The Volkswagen Beetle offers fun in an energy-efficient yet quirky package that takes you down the Innocent’s trip to memory lane. Tie-dye shirts and smiley faces, anyone?

Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

Volvo, Saab and Subaru pride themselves on taking good care of their people. They tap into the caregiver archetype, with dashes of hero and explorer for extra adventure and protection.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Brands like Tesla are an interesting mix of archetypes. Part magician, part explorer, with a bit of ruler, lover and sage thrown in. They exude excellence in innovation – they want to be the daring poster child of the automotive industry’s future. The Tesla represents a luxurious, gilded lily version of the “everywoman” Prius – not for everyone.

The Tesla brand has a coveted, highly desirable status that will depend on their ability to keep innovating without engineering problems or missteps that would cause their audience to lose faith in the brand.

Your brand clarity depends on how you apply your archetype blend

Your brand personality should be built on your dominant archetype. Researchers have identified dozens of archetypes that can be built from the core 12. One of my favorite resources is the Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists. You will find 60 different archetypes divided into families built on the 12 core archetypes. Caroline Myss takes a slightly different approach with her Appendix: A Gallery of Archetypes.

Some of these are subtypes are an even 50/50 blend between two primary archetypes. This dominant archetype or blend is the heart of your brand. You can add several secondary archetypes that act as influencers to help your brand differentiate, much like adding spices or seasoning to a core recipe. I recommend choosing a dominant archetype or 50/50 subtype blend as a starting point, and then experimenting with how much of your secondary archetypes to add in. 

You want just enough “spice” to add personality and uniqueness and give your brand an edge. Beware of watering down or changing your brand recipe to the point where people get confused on who you are. For some brands, they are happiest with a 70%/30% blend, with 70% as the dominant archetype at the heart of your brand, and 30% secondary or influencer archetypes. Others may be closer to a 60%/40% blend. It is up to you to fine-tune and manage as your brand evolves!

The influencer archetypes become your secret ingredients to keep things fresh and interesting. These can be used to create new brand stories that are rich and diverse, much like Disney and Marvel Comics introducing new heroes, heroines and villains that capture our imaginations and hearts. Truly iconic and long-lasting brands rarely stray from their brand archetype formulas, since they know that straying too far will alienate or upset their loyal fans.

Additional resources:

Maja Haloway

As a director at Xylina, Maja helps clients find their ideal audience and connect to them through the right branding, messaging and marketing channels. Maja holds an MBA degree from St. Thomas University. She can be found at marketing, entrepreneur or techie-related meetups in the Portland OR/Vancouver WA area.

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