The Roles that Brands Play – Advertising and Archetypes

by Macleay Advertising Student, Amanda Florence.

Everyone has a favourite brand. Why do you favour one over another? Maybe it’s because it provides better service or ground breaking technology in their products. Perhaps it’s because it’s a familiarity that you’ve grown with or a product that you associate with positive emotion. It probably never crossed your mind that forces out of your consciousness may play a part in repetitive patterns of thought, action & reaction; not only associated with brands but also in everyday life, across people, cultures and countries. The forces I’m talking about are archetypes.

Famous psychologist and thinker Carl Jung described a number of archetypes as fundamental forces that are part of the ‘collective unconscious’ and somehow exist beyond us. Jung theorises that humans have the innate tendency to use image and symbolism to understand concepts. Does that mean the subconscious plays a role in deciding which advertising communications we retain?


Adriadne giving some thread to Theseus Image Source:

Archetypes exist in all storytelling forms from ancient myths to 21st century blockbusters. They are characters that represent deeply fundamental human needs and desires. In terms of advertising, 12 archetypes are often used to influence consumers to purchase products or services. These 12 archetypes have core desires, goals, fears and behaviours that speak to those who are receptive or associate with those desires, goals, fears and behaviours. Their stories can be used to define a brand’s identity and when it strays from this identity its values, position, vision and mission are compromised and in turn so is their effective messaging. This becomes evident in consumer backlash and confusion resulting in a loss of brand equity.

 The Hero

The ruggedly handsome hero wants to make the world a better place and to develop energy, discipline, focus and determination. Nike and Gillette razors are examples of hero brands.

 The Outlaw

The outlaw archetype wants revolution. They don’t conform and can also be known as the rebel, misfit or outsider. Harley Davidson uses this archetype successfully.


The Magician

The Magician archetype symbolises transformation whether it’s a situation or turning visions into realities, they use science to do this. Think of Apple and the innovative almost magical design of their products and innovative thinking.

 The Regular Guy

The regular guy or girl wants to fit in with the group, they understand everyone matters and are down to earth and unpretentious, IKEA aligns its brand’s personality with the everyday man.

 The Jester

The Jester or joker misbehaves and enjoys mischief; they want to turn the most mundane tasks into a fun experience. Recently the messaging from Old Spice has taken on Jester qualities.

The Lover

This archetype represents love in all forms; parental, spiritual, platonic but it is mostly recognised in romance. Godiva chocolates is a Lover brand.

The Innocent

The Innocent is a very feminine, trusting, optimistic and dependent archetype. Although this can sometimes lead to being seen as naïve. E.g. Ivory soap

The Explorer

The Explorer, adventurer or seeker wants to hit the open road; they have itchy feet and can’t be tied down. This can also refer to exploration on a personal and mindful level, not just physically. Teenagers often embody this archetype experimenting with fashion, music etc.

The Sage

The Sage believes the truth will set you free. Also known as the thinker, the Sage wants to use intelligence to understand the world.

The Creator

Creatives aim to give artistic expression to a vision. They foster all imaginative endeavors. Also known as the artist or dreamer. Movado positions its watches as objects of art.

The Caregiver

Campbell’s soup is a caregiver brand that embodies the caregiver qualities and personality in all of its communications. The caregiver derives satisfaction from putting other’s needs before their own.

The Ruler

Also known as a leader or boss, these brands believe responsibility and control fall to them to ensure the smooth running of society. For example American Express.


Brands that successfully embody their archetype are typically category leaders and over time, take on symbolic significance. A perfect example of this is Ivory soap, (The Innocent) it’s not merely associated with innocence, it embodies it. Mums use Ivory because it ‘seems right’. Why does it ‘seem right’? The product design, advertising and of course the brand identity tie back to fundamental human behaviours and spiritual meanings seen across time and cultures. For example in Christianity, Baptism is the exercise of purification and the colour white is associated with purity, innocence, wholeness and new beginnings.

Big brands become icons of cultures and the most powerful words a consumer can say about a brand is ‘I love you’, it sounds stupid but it’s true. In the case of Apple early adopters line up at all hours eagerly waiting to get their hands on the next product release. When this happens you know you have captured consumer loyalty and to a certain level their love for your brand and product, a relationship exists between the two.

So in fact there is a reason why you have favourite brands, and it’s probably because they embody an archetype that speak to you on a level that fulfills your desires and needs that you were not even conscious of before.

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