The 12 Brand Archetypes: A Strategic Insight

Brand Archetypes

If you’re planning a party, who do you call? The fun-loving friend who lights up the room? Or, for sound life advice, do you turn to that wise, ever-reliable companion? When we describe our friends, we often use vivid descriptors that bring their personalities to life – the adventurous one, the nurturing soul, the life of the party. Similar to brand archetypes, these descriptions reveal more than just traits; they tell a story, a narrative that makes each person unique and memorable. This is the essence of brand archetypes in building a brand strategy. Just as we associate certain qualities with our friends, brand archetypes help businesses craft a personality that is distinct and tells a compelling story.

Let’s take you on a journey into the captivating world of brand archetypes. Brand archetypes, derived from Carl Jung’s theory, are a set of universal, mythic characters that reside within the collective unconscious of people. Brand building is an art and science that intertwines strategy and psychology. These archetypes represent fundamental human desires, aspirations, and motivations.

In creating a compelling brand identity, brand archetypes are used to personify a brand in a way that resonates deeply with target audiences at an emotive level. By adopting an archetype, brands can forge a stronger emotional connection with consumers, differentiate themselves in the market, and communicate their values and mission more effectively. Understanding these archetypes helps businesses in crafting compelling narratives and identities that align with their audience’s core psychological needs and values.

Being an Asian company, we have a soft spot for Asian brands, let us introduce you to some fascinating Asian brands that have wholeheartedly embraced these brand archetypes.

Understand the 12 brand archetypes to strengthen your brand strategy.

1. THE INNOCENT

Evokes purity and optimism. Ideal for brands that offer simple, reliable solutions and embody trust and stability.

MUJI (Japan) – MUJI epitomises the Innocent brand archetype through its commitment to simplicity, functionality, and sustainability. Stripping away the unnecessary, MUJI’s products speak to the desire for purity and ease in a complicated world. Their no-brand strategy, emphasising product quality and environmental friendliness aligns perfectly with Innocent’s values of honesty and optimism. The brand has impressively extended beyond its initial basic stationery and clothing offerings. It has MUJI Café&Meal, MUJI Campsite, MUJI House, MUJI Hotel, MUJI Hut, MUJI Renovation Club, and more. These brand extensions showcase MUJI’s ability to diversify while staying true to its brand values. Read about Muji’s expanding activities.

2. THE SAGE

Seeks knowledge and truth. Ideal for brands that offer wisdom, expertise, and value education and information.

Petronas (Malaysia) – The state-owned oil and gas company, emphasises a deep commitment to knowledge, expertise, and sustainable practices in the energy industry. The brand’s focus on innovation, leadership, and sustainable energy solutions reflects the qualities associated with The Sage brand archetype, which is characterised by wisdom, expertise, and a commitment to bettering the world through knowledge and understanding. Petronas’ brand story highlights its dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation and sustainability, which are in line with the Sage archetype’s pursuit of wisdom and positive change. Read about its brand story.

3. THE EXPLORER

Embodies adventure and independence. Ideal for brands that encourage discovery, new experiences, and self-sufficiency.

Ovolo Hotels (Hong Kong) – Founded by the visionary Girish Jhunjhnuwala, Ovolo Hotels in Hong Kong embody the adventurous spirit of the Explorer brand archetype. With its quirky name, “Ovolo,” meaning ” little egg, ” the brand celebrates uniqueness – no two hotels are alike. Since 2002, it’s been a trailblazer in hospitality, offering more than just a stay; it’s a journey of discovery. Each hotel is a distinct adventure, showcasing bold design, inspiring art, and a local flair. Their brand motto, “Wonder.Full.” encapsulates this ethos, inviting guests to uncover something extraordinary with every visit. Ovolo is not just about luxury; it’s about redefining it with curiosity and innovation.

 

4. THE CREATOR

Fuels innovation and creativity. Perfect for brands that value originality, imagination, and artistic expression.

Gentle Monster (South Korea) – A luxury eyewear brand founded in 2011 by Hankook Kim embodies the “Creator” brand archetype, characterised by innovation, creativity, and a unique perspective. The brand has gained global fame for its distinctive, oversized sunglasses catering to Asian beauty standards. Their stores, designed like contemporary art galleries, further illustrate their creative ethos. The brand’s success lies in its ability to blend fashion and art, appealing to a global audience with a taste for the unconventional. Its brand name Gentle Monster intriguingly combines two contrasting words in its name. “Gentle” suggests softness, approachability, and a kind of refined elegance.

5. THE CAREGIVER

Offers compassion and nurturing. Best for Service-oriented brands that emphasise care, protection, and altruism.

Sheng Siong (Singapore) – Sheng Siong is a leading supermarket chain in Singapore. Its founders, the Lim brothers, transformed their single-store operation into a household name synonymous with affordability and quality. It values community and quality by exemplifying the caregiver brand archetype, which is evident in its profit-sharing initiative and the 2020 bonus for employees following stellar performance. The tagline “All for You” emphasises their dedication to customer and employee satisfaction. Uniquely, founder Lim’s mobile number is accessible in every outlet, ensuring direct communication for feedback or emergencies, further underscoring the brand’s commitment to accessibility and responsiveness. This is one of my favourite supermarket brands, as I consistently experienced friendly and helpful service in my neighbourhood outlet.

6. THE MAGICIAN

Symbolises transformation and visionary ideas. It aligns with brands that offer transformative experiences and inspire wonder.

Alibaba (China) – Alibaba’s name, inspired by the phrase “Open Sesame” from the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, reflects the Magician brand archetype. This name symbolises the unlocking of hidden treasures and opportunities, akin to Alibaba’s transformative impact on e-commerce and digital technology. The Magician brand archetype, characterised by vision, innovation, and transformation, mirrors Alibaba’s role in creating new possibilities in the digital marketplace. According to Kantar’s BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2023, Alibaba’s brand value stands at an impressive US$90.2 billion. This positions Alibaba as the second most valuable Chinese brand, showcasing its enduring influence

7. THE RULER

Exudes control and leadership. Suitable for luxury brands or those offering premium, authoritative products or services.

Razer (Singapore) – Razer, a global leader in gaming hardware, software, and systems, personifies the Ruler brand archetype. The company was founded by two gamers, Min-Liang Tan and Robert Krakoff. The pair wanted a name that would be easy to remember and that would represent their passion for gaming. They settled on the name Razer, which is derived from the gaming term “razer sharp.” The Ruler brand archetype is characterised by a desire for control, dominance, and leadership. Its tagline, “For Gamers, By Gamers,” reflects their deep understanding of and dedication to the gaming community. Their commitment to high-performance products and a strong brand presence aligns with the Ruler’s qualities of authority, power, and a desire to shape their domain, which in Razer’s case, is the competitive and ever-evolving world of gaming.

8. THE HERO

Inspires through courage and determination. Suitable for brands that encourage overcoming obstacles and embody strength and resilience.

One Championship (Singapore) – One Championship, a leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation in Asia, exemplifies the Hero brand archetype. This archetype is characterised by bravery, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence, all of which are core elements of the brand’s ethos. One Championship’s approach to martial arts, focusing on honor, respect, and the spirit of a warrior, aligns with the Hero’s qualities of courage, moral integrity, and inspiring others through personal triumphs and challenges. Through its events and fighter stories, the brand represents the Hero’s journey in real-time, offering a platform where courage, discipline, and personal growth are celebrated. I recently watched the reality series The Apprentice: One Championship on Netflix; the CEO, Chatri Sityodtong, speaks like a hero! He says that as a CEO, he hires only PHDs, aka a superstar who is poor, hungry, and determined in attitude and spirit!

9. THE JESTER

Brings joy and humour Suitable for brands that are playful, lighthearted, and want to bring happiness to their audience.

Shopee (Singapore): As a prominent e-commerce platform from Singapore, Shopee exemplifies the Jester brand archetype in the digital marketplace. This alignment is evident in its playful, vibrant, and engaging approach to online shopping, designed to create an enjoyable and entertaining experience for its users. Characterised by colourful visuals, catchy jingles, and humorous advertisements, Shopee’s brand messaging resonate with the Jester’s qualities of fun and joy. Shopee also features a range of mascots, each adding a lively and animated touch to the brand’s identity. These mascots, appearing in various marketing materials and events, symbolise Shopee’s commitment to a user-friendly, enjoyable shopping journey. They embody the Jester archetype’s aim to bring light-heartedness and delight into everyday activities. Check out its mascots.

10. THE REBEL

Represents rebellion and freedom. Suitable for brands that challenge convention and advocate for individualism and change.

Ghostboy (Malaysia) – Emerging from the vibrant streets of Kuala Lumpur, Ghostboy is a Malaysian label with a compelling backstory. Founded by the creative duo David Han and Cyii Cheng in 2020, Ghostboy’s origins are steeped in the spirit of rebellion and artistic expression. The brand name, “Ghostboy,” draws inspiration from Robotaki’s song of the same name, setting the tone for its unconventional journey. Ghostboy is the embodiment of the Rebel brand archetype in fashion and self-expression. Their website proudly declares, “Driven by the spirit of rebellion and individuality, Ghostboy is constantly evolving as we have fun along the way.”What’s particularly remarkable about Ghostboy is its swift ascent to popularity, a testament to its resonance with the youth. The brand continuously evolves, releasing designs that cater to Gen Z’s eclectic tastes. In a world of conformity, Ghostboy thrives as a champion of non-conformity, inviting individuals to embrace their rebellious spirit and celebrate their unique identities.

11. THE REGULAR GUY/GAL

Appeals to common values and shared experiences. Best for brands that emphasise community, accessibility, and down-to-earth values.

 Kopi Kenangan (Indonesia): Kopi Kenangan, an Indonesian coffee brand, epitomises The Regular Guy/Gal brand archetype by intertwining the simplicity and authenticity of daily life with the rich tradition of coffee. Founded with the vision of creating affordable yet high-quality coffee for the everyday Indonesian, Kopi Kenangan has quickly grown into a beloved brand since its inception in 2017. Its rapid expansion across the country is a testament to its appeal to the average person seeking a familiar and comforting coffee experience. The brand’s philosophy, as articulated by CEO and Founder Edward Tirtanata, emphasises coffee not just as a beverage but as an integral part of daily life and a creator of memories. “Coffee is deeply ingrained in everyone’s daily life, and our coffee will be there to accompany your daily activity. Whereas ‘Kenangan’ stands for ‘memories’, that’s why one of our mottos is ‘Let’s make good memories together,'” says Tirtanata. This sentiment resonates with the Regular Guy/Gal archetype through its focus on relatable, genuine experiences and the creation of meaningful connections.

12. THE LOVER

Focus on passion and intimacy. It is ideal for brands cultivating sensory appeal, romance, and close relationships.

Tanishq (India) – This archetype focuses on love, intimacy, and connection first and foremost. Tanishq, a renowned Indian jewellery brand, embodies the Lover archetype through its exquisite craftsmanship and deep understanding of emotional connection in jewellery. The brand, part of the prestigious Tata Group, is known for its luxurious, intricately designed jewellery that celebrates love, relationships, and life’s special moments. Tanishq’s advertising campaigns often highlight emotional narratives, focusing on weddings, festivals, and family, which are central to Indian culture. Their tagline, “Be More with Tanishq,” reflects a commitment to beauty, elegance, and the emotional significance of jewelry in expressing love and affection. This approach aligns with the Lover archetype’s focus on passion, intimacy, and the celebration of beauty and emotional connections.

Diving into the world of Jung’s 12 Brand Archetypes with Asian brands has hopefully sparked some excitement about its endless possibilities.These timeless archetypes are not mere labels but the cornerstone of a deliberate and thoughtful brand strategy. If this exploration has piqued your interest in developing a brand that resonates and endures, consider my course From Bland to Brand: Creating a Winning Brand Strategy as your next step. It’s a practical guide to equip you with the strategic know-how for building a compelling brand strategy. Find out more here.

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