Beyond Limitation

Offering refinement, nuance and differentiation

Some version of twelve fundamental archetypes have been in use since Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson's seminal work, The Hero and The Outlaw. While having sixty choices may seem daunting at first, expanding the fundamental twelve into five archetypes to a family allows users to achieve greater nuance, sophistication and resonance. The hope is that not limiting the archetypal story, business might be incentivized to a more holistic and authentic way of being in the world.

We encourage our clients to develop unique brand characters. Whether this is accomplished using 12 or 60 is less important than the shared ownership that comes with the exploration and commitment possible using an archetypal lens.

Another change from Mark & Pearson's work is that Archetypes in Branding updates the fundamental twelve to include The Citizen, a much-needed brand embodiment in our world today. But let's be clear... it's sixty and counting. This is only the beginning... let us know what archetypes might be worth adding or refining.

Family Members

Expanding the fundamental twelve into five archetypes to a family gets to the heart of using of archetypes to develop a unique brand character, one that is true and clear and resonant with the behaviors, processes, mission, and values of the company. You don't have to use all sixty at once. The hope in expanding on Mark & Pearson’s twelve was to offer practitioners access to greater nuance, sophistication and layering in their brand and culture building. Long-form descriptions of each archetype are provided in the book and the companion card deck has the short-form descriptions on the back of the cards, including basic strengths and challenges. For a brief overview of the archetypal family, click on a tab below.

Caregiver Family

Family Members: Ambassador. Angel. Healer. Samaritan.
The one-word description for the Caregiver is “altruism”: the unselfish concern and/or devotion to nurture and care for others. This archetype is motivated to provide reassurance, service, advice, listening and an open heart to support the welfare of others. The Caregiver is compassionate, generous, efficient, self-sacrificing, patient, highly competent and an excellent multi-tasker. Able to find the silver lining in any cloud, the Caregiver is able to remain calm in a crisis, make friends with everyone, and radiate the lightness of optimism.

Brand Highlight: Panadol - was made to help relieve peoples aches and pains, therefore it can be classified as a caregiver. It is brand that sympathizes with people's sicknesses and aims to make them feel better. It is a brand based on compassion and a product that is designed to help.

Examples: Mother Nature. George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life). Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. Mary Poppins. Dove. Amnesty International. Allstate Insurance.

Citizen Family

Family Members: Advocate. Everyman (Everyday guy/gal). Networker. Servant.
The Citizen is driven by a deeply instilled sense of personal integrity, fairness, equity and responsibility to the community. This archetype’s identity is shaped by the experience of being a peer rather than being subjected or ruled. The qualities of a citizen are fairness, respect, equity, accountability and personal integrity. The Citizen has a great belief in a unified society wherein humans positively contribute and that hold values higher than profit or individual gain. Meaning is found in the personal sense of alignment between beliefs and action.

Brand Highlight: Craigslist is a hugely popular community auction platform where users can buy and sell goods based on their perception of the products worth. The brand works because everyone who uses it upholds the values of a citizen - fairness, respect, accountability and personal integrity.

Examples: John F. Kennedy. Rosa Parks. Willem Dafoe in Mississippi Burning. TimeBanks USA. Habitat for Humanity. Panera Cares. Chipotle. TOMS Shoes. Team in Training.

Creator Family

Family Members: Artist. Entrepreneur. Storyteller. Visionary.
The Creator has a passionate need for self-expression, to be a cultural pioneer. Creating offers a means of dealing with how out of control the world seems. The Creator is highly imaginative, with a developed sense of the aesthetic. This archetype often appears in environments that are reflective of good taste and a unique point of view. The Creator notices and acts upon the need for innovation, invention and re-interpretation. Believing in the value of inner expression, the Creator is dedicated, hard working and achievement oriented.

Brand Highlight: Dyson has always been a forward thinking, imaginative company as was the vision by its founder James Dyson. It is a company that prides itself on creating new and imaginative products that can revolutionise the vacuum cleaner world.

Examples: Walt Disney. Adobe. LEGO. Pinterest. Etsy. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I.M. Pei. Charles and Ray Eames. Martha Graham. Dame Judi Dench. Edward de Bono (lateral thinking).

Explorer Family

Family Members: Adventurer. Renaissance Wo/Man (Generalist). Pioneer. Seeker.
The Explorer is motivated by a powerful craving for new experiences. Greatly valuing autonomy the Explorer has a core desire to be free of the establishment but not necessarily to have to challenge it. This archetype is willing to do just about anything to avoid boredom and entrapment, even if it means taking great risks. The Explorer is known to push boundaries and delight in unexpected discoveries, embracing a “no limits” philosophy.

Brand Highlight: Patagonia sells outdoor clothing and equipment. Not only do their products promote exploration but the brand embodies and activates the inner motivations of The Explorer.

Examples: PBS. Global Exchange. John Muir. Huckleberry Finn. Star Trek.

Hero Family

Family Members: Athlete. Liberator. Rescuer. Warrior.
The Hero acts to redeem society by overcoming great odds in service to successfully completing extraordinary acts of strength, courage and goodness. The Hero is admired by those who appreciate the self-sacrifice, stamina and courage required to triumph over adversity and evil. As a continuous learner, the Hero seeks to understand the inner life force and fullest expression of self, while coping with difficulty, meeting strange fates and facing shifting challenges. The essence of the Hero lies in the sacrifice required to achieve the goal of transformation.

Brand Highlight: Nike embraces the concept of a hero by sponsoring some of the worlds greatest athletes who are heroes in their field. Michael Jordan is an example, Nike built a whole other brand 'Air Jordan' around him because of his hero status in basketball.

Examples: Odysseus. Hercules. Luke Skywalker (Star Wars). Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit). Simba (The Lion King). Harry Potter.

Innocent Family

Family Members: Child. Dreamer. Idealist. Muse.
The Innocent is pure, virtuous and faultless, free from the responsibility of having done anything hurtful or wrong. The eternal optimist, this archetype’s glass is always half full. The Innocent lacks guile and corruption, and seeks the promise of paradise. In its most powerful expression, the Innocent embodies a sense of oneness and renewal, representing inner peace and acceptance. This archetype can trigger nostalgia for simpler times.

Brand Highlight: Xero is a software company that provides online cloud-based accounting software. A New Zealand export success story, they are a highly trusted brand and staying true to their brand character, the name itself is 'xero' because their software balances its customers' accounts to zero.

Examples: Annie’s Homegrown Inc. Method (home and personal care products). Xero. Forrest Gump. Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz). Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird)., Littlefoot (The Land Before Time). Peter Sellers in Being There.

Jester Family

Family Members: Clown. Entertainer. Provocateur. Shapeshifter.
Joyfully living in the moment, the Jester seeks to lighten up the world. Able to bend perspective, twist meanings and interpret events and people in surprising ways, the Jester can speak truth to those in power. The Jester appreciates beauty, change, surprise and wicked intellect. Known for exuberant antics, the Jester transcends tradition, convention and societal norms. Boldly original, irreverent and mischievous, this archetype sees life as a wild and crazy playground of opportunity.

Brand Highlight: Tui is very much the jester brand, its advertising campaigns are design in humour. They shamelessly show beautiful woman working in the Tui brewery in their ads and sponsor pranks like replacing the water plumbing with beer. They play to the joker persona and it is how they have become so popular.

Examples: GEICO. IKEA. Tina Fey. Dave Chappelle. Jeff Dunham. Falstaff (Henry V). Jon Stewart. Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost. The Cat in the Hat.

Lover Family

Family Members: Companion. Matchmaker. Hedonist. Romantic.
The Lover possesses an unbridled appreciation and affection for beauty, closeness, and collaboration. Motivated to attract, give, receive and nurture life-affirming, intimate love and strengthened by great passion and devotion, the Lover fosters bliss and unity. This results in an experience of love that goes beyond an emotion or mindset to become a way of life.

Brand Highlight: Victoria's Secret designs lingerie that embodies sexuality and beauty and is aimed at encouraging romance between partners.This Lover brand stimulates the desire for intimate relationship.

Examples: Chanel. Häagen-Dazs. Victoria’s Secret. Eros. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Beauty and the Beast. Griffin and Sabine. Romeo and Juliet. Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. Dead Poets Society. Guinevere and Lancelot (Camelot). The Phantom of the Opera.

Magician Family

Family Members: Alchemist. Innovator. Mentor. Shaman.
Known to be dynamic, influential, charismatic and clever, this archetype is able to view the world through many different lenses. Driven to understand the fundamental laws of the universe in order to make dreams into reality, the Magician connects to experiences of synchronicity, flow, and oneness, with a curiosity about the hidden workings of the universe. Using ritual and forces from above and beyond, the Magician manifests ideas into reality. Able to accomplish magic from the inside out, the Magician gets results outside of the ordinary rules of life.

Brand Highlight: IBM is a massive global company that makes and sells computer hardware. They are an extremely clever and innovative company that are constantly aiming to dream bigger. They encourage intellect, embodying The Innovator.

Examples: Polaroid. Xbox. Benjamin Franklin. Merlin. Charmed. Practical Magic. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Rebel Family

Family Members: Activist. Gambler. Maverick. Reformer.
The Rebel is a force to be reckoned with, representing the voice that’s had enough. The Rebel is a key to social change and acceptance as a harbinger of fresh perspectives, new outlooks, aspirational change, and awakening. A rule breaker, the Rebel challenges convention by questioning the status quo and pushing the envelope. With bold leadership, courage and power, the Rebel helps to dispel others’ fear of victimization.

Brand Highlight: Hell Pizza has specifically design their brand to be rebellious. Taking the Rebel to the extreme, the brand doesn't conform to accepted advertising methods, using gruesome images and controversial campaigns to sell their product.

Examples: MTV. Apple’s 1984 Macintosh Ad. Vladimir Lenin. Che Guevara. Malcolm X. Madonna. Muhammad Ali. James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Norma Rae.

Sage Family

Family Members: Detective. Translator. Engineer. Scientist.
The Sage is motivated by independence, cognitive fulfillment, and truth. This archetype has a foundational identity attachment to the belief that thinking is what defines the human experience. The Sage responds well to expert opinion but is inherently a pragmatic skeptic. Possessing a high need for autonomy, learning for its own sake is valued because it allows for detachment from the masses and the capacity to remain objective.

Brand Highlight: The BBC has been a reliable source of intelligent investigative reporting for decades. They are a trusted news network that prides itself on reporting the truth, a great representation of a sage brand.

Examples: Harvard University. The Smithsonian. RAND Corporation. Mayo Clinic. Institute for the Future. Confucius. Homer. Jane Goodall. Deepak Chopra. Marie Curie. Yoda (Star Wars). Morpheus (The Matrix).

Sovereign Family

Family Members: Guardian. Patriarch. Ruler. Judge.
Possessing an aura of organization and order, the Sovereign is a model of proper behavior while exuding an untouchable quality of privilege and royalty. Under constant public scrutiny, the Sovereign is controlled, watchful, measured and cautious with words and deeds. Connected with tradition and status, the Sovereign is an archetype of dignity, benevolence, and serenity. This archetype is often combined with others, such as the Sage, Seeker, Warrior or Lover, to increase the specificity of the Sovereign’s style and perspectives.

Brand Highlight: The Sovereign carries a sense of confidence and activates the value of the "safe-pair-of-hands" idea. Qantas, the dominant airline in Australia, like British Airways in the UK, embodies the Sovereign.

Examples: The Vatican. Mercedes-Benz. Lloyds TSB. Cleopatra. Queen Elizabeth II. Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria). King Arthur. Mufasa(The Lion King).

Engage any author about the process of publishing their book(s) and inevitably the conversation includes the benefits of hindsight —what they'd change if they had a mulligan today. The family groupings highlight this conversation. For example, in hindsight, the Shaman (perhaps called Wizard) might be more aligned with the Magician family than the Sage, switching places with the Engineer. The Guardian may be more aligned with the Sovereign family than the Caregiver, trading places with the Ambassador. The dialogue is proof of engagement. We are discussing ways to update and accommodate reorganization and expansion challenges. We invite you to share your thoughts and suggestions.

A hallmark of learning is that working with any concept, method or system also changes it. The collective unconscious is always shifting below the water level of our awareness, so it's not surprising that the artifacts above the water level move as well. The point is to stay curious. As Roosevelt said, the credit goes to the "man in the arena."

Additional Cards

You asked for extra sets of the archetype cards. Et voila! (sorry it took so long) Limited quantities available.


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  • lover-family
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  • Hero-Family
  • Explorer-Family
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  • Caregiver-family