Archetypes: How to Use – Part 2

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In the last post, I talked about methodologies of archetype application and why I believe it’s better than traditional methods of brand identity building. If you have read about Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren etc. and their respective archetypes (Lover, Creator, Ruler), must be wondering: what it means? So let’s go for it!

Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson, authors of “The Hero and the Outlaw”, work with 12 archetypes (other authors work with a larger number, but I’m convinced they end up being derivatives of the original 12). They are:

  • The Innocent: idealistic, optimistic and hopeful, often demonstrates perseverance in the face of obstacles and motivates others to trust that everything will turn out well in the end.
  • The Explorer: independent, authentic and curious is able to follow unique paths and motivates others to explore uncharted territory.
  • The Sage: intelligent, knowledgeable and reflective, demonstrates the value of thinking things through and motivates others to seek the truth.
  • The Hero: determined, achievement-oriented and focused, enjoys demonstrating a winning attitude and often can motivate others to achieve their goals.
  • The Magician: intuitive, insightful and inspiring; is able to perceive and appreciate multiple perspectives and motivates others to believe that anything is possible.
  • The Outlaw/Revolutionary: is often an unconventional thinker who can develop new, cutting-edge approaches, enjoy challenging the status quo and motivating others to think differently.
  • The Lover: appreciative, passionate and committed, enjoy creating consensus and motivating others to see and utilize their own special gifts.
  • The Jester: playful, spontaneous and humorous, enjoy light-hearted truth-telling and can motivate others to see the value of fun.
  • The Every person/Regular Guy/Gal: empathetic, unpretentious and resilient, often demonstrates a common touch and can motivate others to try hard to do their best.
  • The Creator: expressive, original and imaginative, enjoys demonstrating inventiveness and is often able to motivate creative thinking.
  • The Caregiver: compassionate, nurturing and dedicated, enjoys demonstrating supportiveness and can motivate others to provide better service or care.
  • The Ruler: confident, competent and responsible, enjoys demonstrating savvy and motivating others to maintain high standards.

The 12 archetypes are divided into 4 motivation groups: Stability, Belonging, Mastery and Independence. They can be comprehended in terms of consumers’ psychological needs and represent the key characteristic that establishes a bond between consumer and brand. Each group has archetypes that represent similar desires and fears:

Archetypes and Motivation
Motivation Stability Belonging Mastery Independence
Creator Jester Hero Innocent
Caregiver Every person Revolutionary Explorer
Ruler Lover Magician Sage
Consumers’ Fear Uncontrollable chaos, sickness, financial ruin To be exiled, crushed, lonely Impotence, ineffectiveness, abandonment To be fooled or betrayed, emptiness
Help Consumer to Feel safe Give and receive love, be a part of a group Fulfil her/himself Find individual happiness


In addition, they explicit that every archetype has a main ‘virtue’ but also a ‘shadow’, the negative side that the brand must be aware of, so it can be avoided:

Archetypes’ Virtues and Shadows
Archetype Virtue Shadow
Innocent Faith Denial
Explorer Authenticity Self-complacency
Sage Wisdom Dogmatism
Hero Courage Arrogance
Revolutionary Revolution Destruction
Magician Transformation Manipulation
Every person Equality Group Bullying
Lover Love Promiscuity
Jester Fun Irresponsibility
Caregiver Compassion Martyrdom
Creator Innovation Perfectionism
Ruler Leadership Dictatorship

Furthermore, inside each archetype, there is a range of behaviours, some very simple and others more evolved, known as ‘levels’. This is a significant point for a brand take into consideration when building its identity and positioning itself on the market. For example, in the Lover archetype, one will find: (1) the simple awakening of sexuality, (2) the desperate desire to attract a lover, (3) to gain a profound and lasting romantic love, (4) the capability of intimate contact with family and friends, (5) spiritual love for all humankind and all sentient beings. In this sense, Versace is the Lover operating on Level 2, thanks for the brand’s overtly sexual message, whilst Valentino represents Level 3, a more subtle and delicate kind of romance.

From the archetype definition, which works like a compass, the brand will develop a mindset, in other words, the codes that makes it unique. So, if Chanel represents the Lover archetype, its essence is linked to the reinvention of femininity thanks to a new way of dressing created by Coco, translated in the iconic suit, the use of tweed and jersey (traditional fabrics used in menswear), the little black dress, the 2.55 bag and so on. Burberry is the Ruler and its essence is the London lifestyle translated by on iconic piece: the trench coat.

After these explanations, it’s easy to understand why the application of archetypes in branding is a more comprehensive approach, isn’t it?

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