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The Secrets of Archetypal Branding

Have you ever noticed some brands build connections with people better than others? How about Apple, Disney, Nike, or Unicef? 

The secret lies in the powerful concept of Brand Archetypes, based on the theories of Carl Jung.

According to Carl Jung, these 12 archetypes are believed to reside in our collective unconscious, deeply rooted within it. These archetypes offer personalities and traits that effortlessly resonate with the human psyche. 

Think about Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Rachel, and Ross from 'Friends,' the much-loved American series from the 1990s-2000s that has now become an undeniable classic. Each of these characters represents a mix of archetypes, making them universally attractive, familiar, and relatable.

Image source: wallpapers.com

Image source: wallpapers.com

The same applies to branding. By defining an archetype, you can create a brand narrative that’s not only impactful but also builds a deeper emotional connection with your target audience.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

  1. The Innocent – Pure, optimistic, and loyal (Dove, Innocent Smoothies, Petit BamBou)
  2. The Everyperson – Approachable, inclusive, and connects with others (Airbnb, Gap, Ikea)
  3. The Hero – Courageous, masterful, and honorable (Accenture, Nike)
  4. The Outlaw – Rule-breaking, risk-taking, and inspiring (Virgin/Richard Branson)
  5. The Explorer – Adventurous, authentic, and pioneering (Jeep, National Geographic, Patagonia)
  6. The Creator – Innovative, daring, and imaginative (Apple, Lego)
  7. The Ruler – Authoritative, brings control, and leadership (Microsoft, Mercedes, Mont Blanc)
  8. The Magician – Creative, idealistic, and transformative (Disney, Ciaté London)
  9. The Lover – Romantic, passionate, and intimate (Victoria’s Secret, Chanel N°5)
  10. The Caregiver - Caring, maternal, and compassionate (Unicef, Johnson & Johnson, Pampers)
  11. The Jester – Fun, joyful, and light-hearted (Ben & Jerry’s, M&M’s)
  12. The Sage - Knowledgeable, wise, and an expert (BBC, The Economist, Philips)

At Making You Smile, we often leverage the 12 archetypes to craft narratives that align closely with the vision and ethos of the clients we partner with, thereby creating authentic brand identities.

When you master the art of deploying Brand Archetypes and understand how to identify the “right mix” of 2 or 3 archetypes, you can enrich the originality and depth of your brand. 

Also, by keeping your Brand Archetypes in mind, maintaining your brand’s consistency across different customer touchpoints and over time becomes much easier. It's actually game-changing how simple it becomes.

As a result, you can create a unique and emotionally authentic brand that none of your competitors will be able to imitate.

Here’s an example.  

We recently collaborated with an accounting firm, formerly known as SOCOFINEX, based in Troyes, France. The managing directors sought Making You Smile's assistance in navigating a crucial phase of their business evolution. This included finding a new name, elaborating a repositioning strategy, and implementing a new verbal and visual identity to reflect the company’s new challenges.

And their main goal to achieve through this work was to create a brand that deeply resonates with the entire team’s vision, reinforcing the sense of pride and belonging. 

Taking into account their commitment to fostering a dynamic bottom-up culture and their new brand purpose (which we were proud to help define) – 'co-create a world where we dare to advance differently' – we determined that a delicate mix of the following two brand archetypes would help achieve that goal.

  • The Creator – Innovative, daring, and imaginative (Apple, Lego)
  • The Everyperson – Approachable, inclusive, and connects with others (Airbnb, Gap, Ikea)

Now, here’s a “glimpse” of how these archetypes are translated into the brand’s logo, messaging, and visual styling.

Logo VA & Co. - réalisation Making You Smile
Cartes de visite VA&Co.
Bannière Linkedin VA&CO
Smartphone montrant la description du compte Linkedin VA&CO

While there are many articles and posts discussing this topic with real-life brand examples, to be honest, I've never read one that accurately illustrates this concept for all 12 archetypes.

So I’ve decided to write one myself - stay tuned to the upgraded version of this article.

There, you’ll not only find the most relevant examples among well-known brands, but also a detailed breakdown of several brands that we at Making You Smile helped create from scratch or reposition using this method. 

Can you guess which of the 12 archetypes we've been using to build our own brand, Making You Smile? I hope this question amuses you! (A hint: we've been experimenting with a subtle blend of two.) 

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