C. G. Jung's archetypes for your coporate design

7 min read
May 28, 2024

What advertising appeals to you? Why do you automatically buy the same brand for years? Why do you choose a certain product when an equivalent alternative would be cheaper? The explanation lies in the psychological concept of the twelve archetypes according to Carl Gustav Jung. In this article, you'll learn about the background of this concept, selected archetypes, and how you can use them in your branding.

Carl Gustav Jung's concept of the twelve archetypes

To understand the significance of the twelve archetypes as a key driver of branding and marketing strategies, it's necessary to look at the history of analytical psychology. Its founder, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), recognized that people make decisions based on universal patterns of behavior and emotions. Jung went on to show that these patterns could be grouped into twelve archetypes.

It's interesting to note that this concept applies globally. Each person can be assigned to a specific primary archetype. Applied to brand strategy, this means that a brand can appeal to the same target group in different parts of the world, for example in India and Europe.

Jung once suggested that archetypes were hereditary and that everyone was born as one of the twelve types. Today, however, this theory has been disproved. In fact, our social and cultural environment determines which archetype we develop into over the course of our lives. 

Everyman, Ruler and Magician: three of the most popular archetypes

What sounds like the beginning of a fantasy novel is actually three common archetypes, which we will look at in more detail below.

The normals (also known as "Everyman")

The representatives of this archetype can aptly be described as idealists. Their emotional orientation is benevolent. They want to do good, have good experiences, feel comfortable and secure. Belonging is very important to this archetype. They want to be part of a group, but they do not want to stand out in any way. Harmony is important. So as not to upset the social balance, the Everyman is always friendly, level-headed and considerate.

Internally, this type faces several conflicts. On the one hand, they're trusting, but on the other, they're afraid of being exploited or rejected. The Everyman is basically optimistic and open-minded, but their enthusiasm is limited. These inner conflicts are often reflected in the way they're perceived by those around them: Everyman is a valued companion, but tends to be quickly forgotten.

The "Everyman" archetype in branding

This type of person is a very broad target for branding and marketing campaigns. This is evident in the companies that target this archetype with their brand and advertising. IKEA, McDonald's, Sparkasse, Aldi Nord, and VW are good examples.

The Ruler

The Ruler archetype stands in stark contrast to the Everyman archetype. These people's primary goals are control and power, which in turn bring prosperity, success, and security. The path to these goals is paved by the archetype's authoritarian, dominant personality. Rulers are full of confidence, intimidating, take on a lot of responsibility and make high demands.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that rulers are self-centered people. A harmonious environment is also important to them. Therefore, they use their position of power to bring about positive changes for their people. However, this only applies to those who support their leadership position and are loyal to them. If their position of power is attacked, the Ruler archetype will defend it by any means necessary.

The "Ruler" archetype in branding

A brand targeting this dominant archetype should embody success. Luxury, tradition, image, and quality play an equally important role. False modesty is deliberately avoided. Marketing and branding campaigns based on the "Ruler" archetype can be found in companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, IWC, and Montblanc.

The Magician

People who belong to this archetype are characterized by a high level of creativity and a way of thinking that goes beyond conventional boundaries. Magicians are visionaries, focused on forward-thinking and disruptive ideas. They constantly seek knowledge that they're reluctant to share with others. Instead, they use their expertise to make their vision of the future tangible to the world, often literally. According to Magicians, the biggest hurdle is their own imagination.

The majority of this archetype work in the technology and/or start-up industries. However, the entertainment and gaming industries are also considered domains of this archetype.

The "Magician" archetype in branding

If your brand, products, and/or services are seeking or implementing futuristic change, this archetype is for you. Examples include companies like Dyson, SpaceX, and OpenAI. This is also true if you create fantastic worlds through creative processes (Walt Disney, EA Sports, etc.) or make products that support Magicians in their endeavors (Red Bull, Coca-Cola, etc.).

The 12 archetypes at a glance - download now!

When customers love your brand - branding for archetypes

In an age of trademark overload, almost all companies face a dilemma. In Germany alone, nearly 73,000 trademarks were registered in 2022, and the number is growing. With the rise of social media, marketing channels have expanded significantly, requiring new strategies to maintain or increase brand awareness. Consumers are bombarded with more advertising than the human attention span can handle.

For this reason, it's crucial to align the branding with the target group and to create an emotional connection with the target clientele. Target audience analysis using the twelve branding archetypes is a proven approach.

target with various symbols

The goal is for the target archetypes to identify with your brand and make a purchase decision based on an emotional connection to your brand. Knowing what moves, drives, and appeals to your target audience, as well as their concerns, needs, and fears, will help you tailor your marketing strategy accordingly.

How can the concept of archetypes be used effectively in branding?

Targeting these archetypes has a positive impact on branding in several ways. For example, a clear differentiation of your brand is achieved, which sets you apart from your competitors in the market. This promotes clear brand awareness within the target group and strengthens loyalty to your brand.

It also helps you communicate your brand consistently, both internally and externally. This not only strengthens the corporate identity within your team, but also increases the commitment of the target archetypes to your brand.

Brand alignment with archetypes is especially important for the emotional connection your customers develop with your brand. It positions your brand as a "top of mind" product and successfully differentiates you from the competition. The archetype framework also provides an easy-to-understand and attractive definition of the brand personality for the target audience. It conveys clear values, increases trust and addresses the sometimes unconscious needs of your target group.

An example: Red Bull

Red Bull demonstrates successful alignment of branding and marketing activities with a specific archetype. As we know, the company focuses on the "Magician" archetype, which is characterized by adjectives such as transformative, visionary, creative and powerful.

How does Red Bull communicate such values and characteristics so that the target group feels maximally addressed and develops an emotional bond?

The first starting points are the logo and the claim. With the slogan "Red Bull gives you wings", Red Bull focuses on the magical properties of the product, which should help to overcome limits. The logo, consisting of two bulls and the sun, has a mystical and powerful effect.

The positioning of Red Bull as a drink that helps people achieve their goals, transform themselves and perform at their best is underlined by a predominantly persuasive, inspirational and narrative style of communication, as expressed in the well-known TV commercials. The commercials show people (or animals) surpassing themselves and achieving their goals by consuming the drink.

The positioning is rounded off by the sponsorship of numerous events and extreme sports where people demonstrate extraordinary abilities and achievements.

The association of Red Bull with extreme sports and outstanding achievements evokes a sense of excitement and adventure in consumers. This encourages them to take risks and pursue their dreams. Consumers also often associate Red Bull with increased performance and focus, resulting in many people turning to Red Bull when they feel the need for an extra boost of energy to overcome challenges.

Another example: McDonald's

A common archetype for the food industry is the "Everyman". This archetype embodies normality, pragmatism, down-to-earthness, and a strong sense of community.

McDonald's is a good example of this orientation. The restaurant chain is known around the world for its affordable prices and the wide availability of its outlets. This makes the brand accessible to people from all walks of life.

In addition, McDonald's offers a range of familiar menu items that are popular with a wide audience. In its marketing campaigns, the company often emphasizes themes of community and togetherness, whether through family meals or gatherings with friends. Emphasizing community and togetherness in brand communications helps customers feel part of a larger community.

The company also often features a variety of people in inclusive advertising campaigns, reinforcing the message that McDonald's is open to everyone, regardless of age, background or lifestyle.

For many consumers, McDonald's is a familiar and comfortable place where they know what to expect. This creates a comfort zone that keeps them coming back.

The challenge of branding for archetypes

When focusing your branding strategy on one or more archetypes, it's important not to create false expectations among your target audience. Make sure that you communicate your brand message and company values openly and transparently. If your brand doesn't live up to its promises, or if your customers feel deceived by your marketing campaign, this will inevitably lead to a loss of trust. Such a negative image can have serious consequences.

It's equally important to avoid stereotypes. When branding is based on archetypes, there's a risk of limiting the individuality and diversity of the target audience. Even if the target group can be assigned to an archetype, this is different for each individual due to their complex psyche. Someone may tend toward one archetype in their behavior, but also exhibit traits that are attributed to other archetypes.

multiplying human being with a brain

The twelve archetypes in branding

The twelve archetypes play a critical role in building brand awareness. Once identified, you can align all brand design and marketing campaigns with the targeted archetypes. The effectiveness of this approach can be easily seen in your own buying behavior and your favorite brands, which often end up in your shopping cart without competition. This affinity often carries over to the next generation.

Aligning branding with appropriate archetypes creates a deep emotional connection to your brand. Few methods are more effective at increasing both customer loyalty and brand awareness.

Based on the archetypes you define as your target audience, a coherent, consistent communication strategy can be developed and implemented. In this way, a solid, long-term relationship can be established between your brand and your target audience.

Do you have any further questions? Then please contact us!

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