According to Merriam Webster, an archetype is an original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies. While the Oxford Languages dictionary defines an archetype as a very typical example of a certain person or thing. What comes to mind when they ‘see it’!
In Marketing, just as fictional characters are written according to broadly defined paradigms that help us understand their actions, a brand archetype is a way of presenting a brand – its symbology, values, behaviours, messages – as a persona, thus making it more recognizable and relatable to its target audiences.
A Brand archetype transcends time, place, culture, gender and age. This persona represents an eternal truth more than just a manifestation of a stereotype; this is the foundation on which a brand is built, the start point more than the finishing line and a brand’s bedrock more than the characters in its advertising. With a universally familiar character, the brand archetype gives a brand a more human feel.
In behavioural science, archetypes are modelled similarly to the personality types in the D.I.S.C model; Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. While there are broadly 12 Brand archetypes, each one is modelled into 4 major quadrants that speak to Legacy, Connection, Structure and Spirituality. Essentially Brands should aim to Provide Structure, Leave a Legacy, Explore Spirituality or Pursue Connection in the lives of their audience and this is what guides their appeal and the character that they build and present as an image.
So, we see that from the DISC model, Dominance maps Legacy, Influence maps Connection, Steadiness maps Structure and Conscientiousness maps Spirituality.
As a person, an archetype is your brand persona; who you are, how you conduct yourself and how that image is perceived by people when they interact with you. We many times subconsciously build personas or brands without knowing; streamlining people’s perception of us in a passive, way as we conduct our daily business.
It is important to understand this very concept so that you can maximize it to your benefit.
If you are asked to describe what your personal brand archetype is, following the above quadrants, where would you tilt? Does the answer fit your vision of yourself? Do you feel the need to change this perception of you that people hold?
Our series of articles on the 12 Brand Archetypes will help you decide which broad quadrants and particular traits you currently embody and how you can make meaningful adjustments where necessary.