Brand Archetypes Overview - Studio Humankind
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I'm a brand and website designer specializing in ethical storytelling for organizations tackling complex social issues around the globe.

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Brand Archetypes Overview

No longer does simply integrating great brand copy, an amazing identity design or strong marketing define how brands are perceived in the market. Instead, we look to brand character grounded in psychological research that defines what it means to draw attraction to a certain aspect of a greater human desire. When we consider that certain personalities increase certain desires, it provides way to a deeper understanding as to why some or these behaviors appeal to us more than others.

Two reasons to define your brand archetype include designing a stronger connection with your audience and differentiating your unique strategy from others in your line of work. Do you know your brand archetype? Learn more about the brand archetypes, as well as the core desire they represent in human freedom and connection.

The Outlaw

Brand Voice: Disruptive, Rebellious, Combative

Brand Message: “Rules are made to be broken.”

Core Desire: Liberation

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The Outlaw has a strong desire for revolution to change the world for better and make a splash. They have a disdain for rules, regulation and conformity that would remove any form of their freedom of choice or anyone else’s for that matter. They’re good at the core but passion is part of their motivation — without a fight, they’re lost. To appeal to an outlaw you need to prove to them first that you see the world as they do. Status Quo and Conformity are the common enemy and showing disdain for either will go a long way to resonating. Formal communication should be avoided and your language and tone should be laced with grit and attitude.

The Magician

Brand Voice: Mystical, Informed, Reassuring

Brand Message: “It can happen.”

Core Desire: Power

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The Magician strives to make dreams come true through mystical ways. They have the ability to take their audience on a journey of transformation through magical moments and believe that imagination is our biggest asset. Magicians have a strong thirst for knowledge and use that knowledge to show their vision.

The Magician archetype rarely fits a buyer persona but appeals to different personas with their ability to transform. Brands that provide a product or service that take their customers on a transformational journey like Disney for example, could well consider the Magician Archetype as the personality to connect with their audience.

The Hero

Brand Voice: Honest, Candid, Brave

Brand Message: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Core Desire: Mastery

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The Hero’s main motivation is to prove their worth through courage and determination. The Hero works hard in order to have the skills they deem important and take pride that their determination sets them apart from the rest of the pack. They meet challenges head on and handle defeat with their head up.

Appealing to a hero means you need to inspire them and make them feel empowered to succeed and achieve. They see themselves as upstanding citizens and the bully’s nemesis and they stand up for what’s right. Hero’s want to rise to their ambitions and brands that can acknowledge those ambitions and encourage the challenge will connect with them.

The Lover

Brand Voice: Sensual, Empathetic, Soothing

Brand Message: “I only have eyes for you.”

Core Desire: Intimacy

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The lover desires to be desired. The experience of Intimacy, closeness and sensual pleasure are what the lover seeks and will use the means they have to achieve it. They are motivated to become more physically and emotionally appealing to increase their capacity to attract others.

To appeal to a Lover you need to make them feel attractive or embrace their passionate desires for connection and intimacy. Because of their attraction to sensory pleasure, communication and messaging should use sensual language and tone. Imagery and tone of voice are especially important for The Lover archetype.

The Jester

Brand Voice: Fun-Loving, Playful, Optimistic

Brand Message: “If I can’t dance, I’m not part of it.”

Core Desire: Enjoyment

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The Jester is all about having fun and living life in the moment. They not only love having fun themselves, they see it as their duty to be a ray of sunshine in everyone’s life around them.

As the Jester Archetype your brand should highlight the light-hearted and positive side of life with a playful and entertaining spirit. Brands that are able to connect with their audience through happiness and laughter can become much-loved brands.

The Everyman

Brand Voice: Friendly, Humble, Authentic

Brand Message: “You’re just like me and I’m just like you.”

Core Desire: Belonging

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The Everyman wants simply to belong. They tend to blend into society as ‘everybody” and don’t like to stand out in the crowd. They’re friendly and easy to talk without being overly funny or overly rude or overly loud. The Everyman can be quite liked but can also be easily forgotten.

To appeal to an Everyman you need to make them feel a sense of belonging — make your audience feel at home. Brands that revolve around everyday activities might use this archetype with the message that it’s ok to be normal.

The Caregiver

Brand Voice: Caring, Warm, Reassuring

Brand Message: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Core Desire: Service

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The Caregiver is a selfless personality who is driven by the desire to protect and care for others, especially those in need — more often than not these are non-profit organizations. They are often maternity figures and take those who are in need of care, under their wing until they are stronger to take care of themselves.

The Caregiver archetype is a perfect fit for brands that help those in need. The people such brands help are often vulnerable and sensitive and require a soft touch. Warm, thoughtful, generous and motherly approach offers a feeling of safety that will appeal to their needs.

The Ruler

Brand Voice: Commanding, Refined, Articulate

Brand Message: “Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

Core Desire: Control

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The Ruler strives for control with their dominant personality. They are confident, responsible and in control of their lives and expect the same from others. Rulers see themselves at the top of the food chain and aggressively defend that position.

To appeal to a Ruler you must affirm their sense of power, control and respect. Rulers want to feel a sense of superiority — they’re your VIPs. Appealing to the masses will not get the Rulers attention and would more likely turn them off. Ruler brands must provide their customers with a sense affirmation that they are at the top of the ladder of success.

The Creator

Brand Voice: Inspirational, Daring, Provocative

Brand Message: “If it can be imagined, it can be created.”

Core Desire: Innovation

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The Creator has a desire to create innovation. They need to express themselves with their individual talent and strive to bring their vision to life through that expression. Creators believe that if you imagine it, it can be created but are often stifled by their own desire for perfection.

Brands that provide the means or tools to express themselves creatively with freedom of choice would be well-positioned with the Creator Archetype. Their communication should stir the desire for the creative process and inspire their customers to express their nature to the best of their ability. Creator brands leverage their audiences’ imagination and their desire to create and innovate.

The Innocent

Brand Voice: Optimistic, Honest, Humble

Brand Message: “Life is simple and simplicity is elegant.”

Core Desire: Safety

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The innocent is a positive personality with an optimistic outlook on life. They crave safety but ultimately, they want themselves and everyone else to be happy. They see beauty in everyone and have a knack to see inner beauty that others don’t.To appeal to an innocent, you need to earn their trust with simple, honest and most importantly, positive communication. Negative or guilt based communication is a complete turnoff. They need to associate your brand with safety and will feel a connection when their inner beauty is recognized.

The Sage

Brand Voice: Knowledgeable, Assured, Guiding

Brand Message: The truth will set you free.”

Core Desire: Understanding

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The Sage is a seeker of truth, knowledge and wisdom. Their drive comes from the desire to not only understand the world, but to then share that understanding with others. They are more likely to pass on their wisdom to someone who can use it to change the world, rather than change the world with it themselves.

To appeal to a sage you need to pay homage to their intelligence as you communicate. They expect factual and well-researched information, which should be watertight to avoid challenges.

The Explorer

Brand Voice: Exciting, Fearless, Daring

Brand Message: “Dont fence me in.”

Core Desire: Freedom

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The explorer has the intense drive to push themselves outside their comfort and conformity of everyday life — they feel at home in a rugged environment. They are brave, adventurous and love a challenge. To appeal to an explorer, you need to challenge them. Challenging the confines of modern life will also allow you to resonate with them quickly. You should promote the outdoors and the unknown as the land of the free and challenge them to explore it, with your brand of course.

If you can go against the grain of your industry with your core archetype, you have an opportunity to make some real noise in your sector. So once you define your brand personality, how do you begin to apply it to your brand visuals and communication? Start with any number of these applications to get you started.

  1. Use the characteristics of your brand archetype to define issues related to your market and the wider industry.
  2. Using keywords, identify your brand attitude towards life as a whole.
  3. Adopt a tone of voice and writing style that captures these opinions and attitudes.
  4. Identify the vocabulary that your brand will implement keeping the desires your brand aims to evoke at the front of your mind and decision-making.
  5. Expand your vocabulary with synonyms and capture this in your brand guidelines.
  6. Adapt your brand visuals, color palette, typography, and related imagery to represent your archetype visually.

Remember, as with a story, the more detail there is in your brand personality, the more vivid and memorable it will be. Develop your personality on an ongoing basis to ensure it remains in line with who your audience is and the desires it is working to evoke. When your brand look, feel, tone, attitude, opinions and vocabulary are aligned and are all working together to evoke the desires it satisfies, you will have a brand with a humanistic and memorable personality that your audience will find easy to care for.


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