Archetypes – Shortcuts to Thought and Emotion

The beauty of archetypes is that we all know what they are, even if we can’t consciously place them. Symbols have always been powerful marketing tools because they carry a certain emotional weight, and provide shortcuts to meaning. There’s a symbolic connection with the image of a magician or ruler that transcends borders and cultures, and those are the roots of archetypes.

So why care about archetypes?

The whole purpose of brands is to make quick connections with an audience and evoke a response. By identifying your archetype and applying that tone to your brand, you’re tapping into a universal motif. As soon as people hear your name, see your logo or have any interaction with your organization, directly or indirectly, you want a certain reaction. It might be a sense of security, innovation, passion; and by achieving this reaction, you create a deeper connection between your brand and your audience.


  • Caregiver (service)
  • Ruler (control)
  • Creator (innovation)
  • Innocent (safety)
  • Sage (understanding)
  • Explorer (freedom)
  • Outlaw (liberation)
  • Magician (power)
  • Hero (mastery)
  • Lover (intimacy)
  • Jester (enjoyment)
  • Everyman (belonging)

You can find a lot of information about archetypes with a simple search, this particular article on noomii was quite descriptive.

Interpreting an Archetype

Now, actually conveying and interpreting archetypes may vary, particularly with very large brands.

I’ve seen Disney discussed as a Magician archetype, with its imaginative, transformative nature. There have been people who call it an Everyman, saying that Disney is about having everyone matter just as they are, creating a sense of friendship and inclusion.

Apple can be easily seen as a Creator, with innovate concepts that change the way we view and interact with the world. Now, try looking at Apple as the Lover; a product designed to be as seductive and sensual as Eve who took the bite from the apple in the first place.

The beauty is that having different interpretations doesn’t make it wrong. These powerful brands connect with people in very personal ways, and connect differently to different people. I grew up with Disney, so to me, it evokes the Magicians sense of wonder and amazement. Apple appears as a Creator to me, because I don’t love the brand, but I appreciate its design.

Using Archetypes

What I want people to understand is that by knowing your own archetype, it will help streamline your marketing messages. When looking for inspiration for social media or advertising, look to brands that are leaders in conveying the emotion of their archetype.

It’s also easy to muddle your brand message by crossing into different archetypes. Similar to contrasting colours that don’t work together, you need to understand what brand messages conflict with the imagery you’ve created.

I would encourage people who haven’t placed their company to give it a try. There is no shortage of great information online for people to discover more.