eivind holum

Introduction: The 12 archetypes of identity

eivind holum
Introduction: The 12 archetypes of identity


In the early 1900s a prominent psychologist, Carl Jung introduced the concept of Archetypes. He highlighted that certain forms or images are hardwired in the human psyche because humans use symbolism to understand complex ideas. He further pointed out that since there are some specific paths already imprinted in the minds of people that lead to greater understanding, it is essential that these specific paths be characterized since he claimed that they are timeless as well as recognizable. Remarkably, he even had the foresight to say that these categories exhibit personal traits that can enable companies worldwide to market their brands to their particular targeted audiences effectively.

There are twelve archetypes in total: The Innocent, The regular person, The Hero, The Caregiver, The Explorer, The Rebel, The Lover, The curator/artist, The Jester, The sage, The Magician, and The Ruler. These 12 classic archetypes cover the spectrum, from those that convey comfort to those that create excitement. Choosing the right archetype for your business is essential. Hence, let's review the twelve classic archetypes and understand their role in creating a deep connection with their target market.


1.     The Innocent

Goal: To be happy

Traits: Strives to be good, is pure, young, optimistic, simple, moral, romantic, loyal

Drawback: Could be naïve or boring

Marketing niche: Companies with strong values, seen as trustworthy, reliable and honest, associated with morality, good virtues, simplicity, can be nostalgic

Example: Dove soap, Coca-Cola, Cottonelle bathroom tissue


2.     The Regular Person

Goal: To belong, or connect with others

Traits: Down to earth, supportive, faithful, folksy, person next door, connects with others

Drawback: Could lack a distinctive identity and blend in too much

Marketing niche: Common touch, solid virtues, gives a sense of belonging

Example: Home Depot, eBay


3.     The Hero

Goal: Help to improve the world

Traits: Courageous, bold, honorable, strong, confident, inspirational

Drawback: Could be arrogant or aloof

Marketing niche: Make a positive mark on the world, solve major problems or enable/inspire others to do so

Example: Nike, BMW, Duracell


4.     The Caregiver

Goal: To care for and protect others

Traits: Caring, maternal, nurturing, selfless, generous, compassionate

Drawback: Being taken advantage of, taken for granted, or exploited

Marketing niche: Help people care for themselves, serve the public through health care, education or aid programs

Example: Mother Theresa, Campbell’s Soup, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz


5.     The Explorer

Goal: Finds fulfillment through discovery and new experiences

Traits: Restless, adventurous, ambitious, individualistic, independent, pioneering

Drawback: Might not fit into the mainstream

Marketing niche: Exciting, risk-taking, authentic

Example: Indiana Jones, Jeep, Red Bull


6.     The Rebel/Outlaw

Goal: Break the rules and fight authority

Traits: Rebellious, iconoclastic, wild, paving the way for change

Drawback: Could take it too far and be seen in a negative way

Marketing niche: Agent of change, advocate for the disenfranchised, allow people to vent or break with conventions

Example: Harley-Davidson, Virgin (Richard Branson)


7.     The Lover

Goal: Create intimacy, inspire love

Traits: Passionate, sensual, intimate, romantic, warm, committed, idealistic

Drawback: Could be too selfless or not grounded enough

Marketing niche: Help people feel appreciated, belong, connect, enjoy intimacy, build relationships

Example: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolate, Marie Claire


8.     The Creator

Goal: Create something with meaning and enduring value

Traits: Creative, imaginative, artistic, inventive, entrepreneur, non-conformist

Drawback: Could be perfectionistic or impractical

Marketing niche: Visionary, help customers express or create, and foster their imagination

Example: Lego, Crayola


9.     The Jester

Goal: To bring joy to the world

Traits: Fun, sense of humor, light-hearted, mischievous, irreverent

Drawback: Could be seen as frivolous or disrespectful

Marketing niche: Help people have a good time or enjoy what they are doing, allow people to be more impulsive and spontaneous

Example: Motley Fool, Ben & Jerry’s, IKEA


10.  The Sage

Goal: To help the world gain wisdom and insight

Traits: Knowledgeable, trusted source of information, wisdom and intelligence, thoughtful, analytical, mentor, guru, advisor

Drawback: Could be overly contemplative or too opinionated

Marketing niche: Help people to understand the world better, provide practical information and analysis

Example: BBC, PBS, Google, Philips


11.  The Ruler

Goal: Control, create order from chaos

Traits: Leader, responsible, organized, role model, administrator

Drawback: Could lack a common connection, or be too authoritative or controlling

Marketing niche: Help people become more organized, restore order, create more stability and security in a chaotic world

Example: Microsoft, Barclays, Mercedes-Benz


12.  The Magician

Goal: Make dreams come true, create something special

Traits: Visionary, charismatic, imaginative, idealistic, spiritual

Drawback: Could take risks that lead to bad outcomes

Marketing niche: Help people transform their world, inspire change, expand consciousness

Example: Disney, Wizard of Oz, Apple


Parting thoughts

Given that understanding the dynamic needs of your customers and going underneath the surface to grasp the imperceptible desires of your audience is the key to your long-term success, you need to take a long hard look at the real-life examples in the past as well as the present. The successes and failures of various brands and how they went about aligning themselves with their customers can surely teach you an essential lesson or two.