Using Archetypes In Branding

What are archetypes?

Rooted in our collective unconscious, the concept of an archetype shaping a personality was advanced by C.G. Jung - one of the most influential psychiatrists of the 20th Century. Archetypes represent a pattern of ideas and way of thinking that is consistent across time, generations and cultures. Their use in a brand context typically categorizes them into 12 primary archetypes, symbolizing basic human motivations, meanings, values and traits. You can find out more about broadening the fundamental twelve into families here.

A proven method

The use of archetypes is a proven method for revealing truly unique brand characters. An archetypal approach is a key source of differentiation in a competitive landscape. They provide a springboard for brand development, instill humanity, and form a basis for creating a common language. And a 2000 study by Y&R and Stern Stewart showed that the strength of a brand identity's archetypal association positively influenced the company's real asset valuation by 66%. Archetypes help uncover and bring your story to life in a way that creates magnetic attraction — the illusive piece that builds lasting value.

An organization, while not actually a person, has a distinct character that is embodied in your brand and culture. Sometimes this character can be hard to recognize and bring to life. This is where archetypes can be used, with powerful effect. Applying an archetypal approach helps to set the stage for the kinds of experiences and relationships you have with your customers. The moment you think of a brand like Harley Davidson and the word Rebel is used - most people make an intuitive, and instant, connection to the archetypal story that underpins that brand.

Emotions guide our decisions

Archetypes help us understand what motivates an individual, and they work in a similar way for a brand. When revealed, and made intentional, these universal patterns of behavior can help individuals and companies stay true to their mission and brand promise. Functioning as a sort of compass, this creates loyalty with all stakeholders, including buyers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees. If a brand is about what you stand for, then embodying your organization's archetype can guide brand development and connect people to your organization, in subtle yet powerful ways. Very simply, archetypes can facilitate the experiencing of a brand and why it attracts certain customers.

Why archetypes work

Archetypes are powerful attractors of consciousness. Using archetypes can shift your brand from push to pull, from messaging to values, from control to expansion and move your engagements from transactions toward relationships. The authentic application of archetypes also helps your align brand and culture — your behaviors and being.

Archetypes “work” because they create instant emotional impact which triggers instant affinity. They increase trust because they are grounded in a consistent and enduring expression of meaning. They activate a powerful experience of resonance and attraction.

Working with archetypes to guide the strategy, relationships, products, services and artifacts for your business helps to resolve brand and culture inconsistencies, enhance trust and relatedness with all stakeholders, and increases your impact and bottom-line.

Beyond Limitation

Take a deeper dive into the nuance and differentiation possible using 60 archetypes. Explore a spectrum for developing your unique brand character.


Online Course

Strategic Brand Development. Offered asynchronously by HOW University. Tuition: $99. Immerse in the world of archetypes to gain confidence and hone your skills.

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Interested in revealing your brand's existing archetypal patterns? Ignite a different conversation? Send us your details to be included in the beta test of the ArchetypeIQ Assessment.

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