Brand Archetypes in Action



How brands communicate their values through their archetypal underpinning

In How Human is Your Brand, we addressed how brands that identify and deploy archetypes as part of their branding strategy create more meaningful connections with their audiences. Archetypes represent universal themes that speak to the human experience. From thrill-seekers to homebodies, archetypal motifs are all around us and color the lens through which we see the world. As such, people instinctively recognize and respond to the personas and characteristics at each point on an archetypal wheel.

Brand Archetype Wheel

Our practice for comprehending archetypes integrates several models of human understanding from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs within Motivation Theory and marries those concepts to the visual representations in the iconic work of Margaret Pott Hartwell and Joshua Chen’s Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists. Through Maslow, we understand that once our physiological needs are met, humans move up the pyramid and strive for safety, social connection, esteem, and self-actualization. Archetypes are an outgrowth of our human lives.

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Understanding the shared values of the brand and their consumers is the vital first step toward mapping key values to archetypal attributes. If consumers say a brand is bold, individual and courageous and the brand says they are bold, individual and courageous, chances are good that the brand falls somewhere under the HERO umbrella. If their primary shared values are nurturing, compassionate and kind they will likely fall under the CAREGIVER umbrella of attributes.

Archetypes in Branding

To illuminate how brands identify, integrate and exemplify their archetypes, we’ve analyzed four brands. We’ll point to their position on the archetypal wheel which identifies their overarching theme or premise. We’ll then describe their personality and primary characteristics as a brand through their archetype. Finally, we’ll describe the practice of the brand as they live and breathe their archetype in the real world, every day.

Brand: Allstate

Position: Caregiver

Personality: The Caregiver is an altruistic nurturer. According to Hartwell and Chen, “This archetype is motivated to provide reassurance, service, advice, listening, and an open heart to support the welfare of others.”

Practice: For Allstate, their logo and tagline, “You’re in good hands with Allstate,” reinforce this image of an open hand to create a community of support. Given that Allstate is the second largest personal insurer in the U.S., their somewhat parental tone is a natural fit. They want their customers to feel taken care of and when things do go sideways, there is a place of support and guidance to help you find your happy ending. 

Allstate Insurance

Brand: CharterBank

Position: Liberator

Personality: The Liberator believes in freedom and equality. They practice strong conviction in doing what’s right and enabling others to embrace their independence and forge their own path. According to Hartwell and Chen, “Motivated by a core belief in freedom and equality, the Liberator can’t help but manifest intrepid, tenacious and purposeful action.” 

Practice: CharterBank is dedicated to “The Pursuit of Happiness” for its customers but believes “How you get there is up to you.” The brand is centered around empowering its customers to manifest their own personal dreams and is a vital partner along the journey. As a Liberator, the bank wants its customers to live a life unfettered by the burden of complicated finances. All of their brand communications illustrate a bold freedom that is central to their customer experiences.

Brand: Lego

Position: Creator

Personality: The Creator understands the significance of self-expression and has pioneering spirit. According to Hartwell and Chen, “The Creator notices and acts upon the need for innovation, invention and reinterpretation.” 

Practice: The Creator has a unique talent for seeing what’s possible. Energy and imagination are at the heart of their perspective. What more perfect archetype for Lego? The brand helps unleash the inherent creativity of children’s play by providing a platform to “Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.” Their 2017 “Build the Future” ad campaign, which won three silver Lions at Cannes, featured children constructing their dream careers through Legos.

Lego Archetype

Brand: Origin

Position: Explorer

Personality: The Explorer is a brave freedom-seeker. Self-sufficient and independent, this archetype is a bold visionary who values non-conformity and freedom. Hartwell and Chen say, “The Explorer is motivated by a powerful craving for new experiences.”

Practice: The Explorer’s attributes of innovation and unique individuality are a perfect fit for Origin Bank. According to Hartwell and Chen, “The Explorer strives to be authentically true to the self, while reconciling a way to still belong to a broader community.” The Origin brand grew out of a need for reinvention, yet stayed true to its core values. The brand’s name, Origin, exemplifies “uniqueness from within” and the advertising campaign “For the Original in You” focused on the individual needs of their customers and how the bank delivered.

To learn more about how powerful archetypes can be for brands, visit Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists. If you’d like more information on our branding services,  you can reach us at info@adrenalineagency.com