The new fashionable thing. The term references black as a perpetually fashionable color and is typically used in the statement “(something) is the new black”…as in “Orange is the New Black” the hit series on Netflix. While most marketers are looking for the next, next, we’re taking a look backwards as we start the new year. Because, we know that great ideas stand the test of time.

We Think The Old Black…

The concept of “archetypes” was developed by Carl Jung, the famed psychologist, in the early 1900s. In 1947, Jung wrote, “Archetypes are images and thoughts which have universal meanings across cultures which may show up in dreams, literature, art or religion.” He posited that symbols from different cultures are often very similar because they have emerged from archetypes shared by the whole human race which are part of our collective unconscious.

Jung went on to describe 12 archetypes of personality that combine mental images and emotional attachments. Each archetype has its unique set of personality traits, meanings, and values. These 12 archetypes are divided into 4 major orientations based upon the archetype’s main focus or goal and represent the motivators and self-perceived dynamics of each archetype. 

There can be several archetypes forming the core of our personalities. However, our personalities tend to be dominant in one archetype. By identifying our individual primary archetype, we can gain insight into the core dynamics that govern our thoughts, feelings and personalities. 

Archetypes have long been used as a foundation for analysis in a wide variety of applications including literature, mythology, spirituality, psychology, and personality. In 2001, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson published “The Hero and the Outlaw,” which brought business and psychology together and delved into the idea of using archetypes to create powerful brands. They wrote, “Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it actually were alive in some way…They have a relationship with it. They care about it.”

In the book, they list the twelve archetypes and their primary functions in people’s lives. We’ve added brand traits for each archetype.


Personal Motivator Craft something new

Brand Trait Encourage self-expression, foster innovation, artistic, creative


Personal Motivator Care for others

Brand Trait Serve families, value customer service, healthcare, education or charities


Personal Motivator Exert control

Brand Trait Enhance or promote power, become organized, promise safety and stability


Personal Motivator Have a good time

Brand Trait Have a good time, embrace a fun-loving, freewheeling culture


Personal Motivator Be OK just as you are

Brand Trait Down-home culture, create things used in everyday life, help people belong


Personal Motivator Find and give love

Brand Trait Help people find love or friendship, foster beauty, communication or closeness


Personal Motivator Act courageously

Brand Trait Help people perform at their best, address a major social problem, incite action


Personal Motivator: Break the rules

Brand Trait Values at odds with society, pioneer new or revolutionary attitudes


Personal Motivator Affect transformation

Brand Trait Transformative, have a spiritual or psychological component, expand consciousness


Personal Motivator Retain or renew faith

Brand Trait Associated with goodness, morality, simplicity, nostalgia, childhood


Personal Motivator Maintain independence

Brand Trait Help people feel free, are nonconformist, pioneering and offer sturdy products


Personal Motivator Understand their world

Brand Trait Provide expertise or information, encourage people to think

…Is The New Black

Companies have unique personalities. Consumers give meaning to your brand based on its personality. Identifying and understanding your archetype will help you create a connection that resonates with your target audience. Winning brands get their power from connecting to deep human needs. Powerful brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Jeep have gained meaning that is universal and iconic. They have value because their features and benefits have been translated into powerful meanings. 

According to Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions are made in the subconscious mind. Brands with a strong archetypal personality will have a strong differential advantage over their competition. Brand personality should touch every part of your brand experience…from identity design to brand messaging to customer support. When each of these things is based upon the same core archetype, it makes for a consistent branding experience which breeds familiarity and gains trust among your customers.  

At Willow Marketing, we used archetypes in our own rebranding process (see our blog post “Re-Leaf and Restore” ) . We’ve also used it for branding initiatives on behalf of our clients. We’re excited about the possibilities that archetype analysis provides as more and more companies put the customer at the center of their business model rather than the product or the transaction. And, our customers share our enthusiasm. When we identify and discuss the meaning of their archetype with them, they often have that “aha” moment when everything clicks into place. 

We thought it would be fun (and insightful) to provide our readers with an in-depth look at the twelve major archetypes. We’ll highlight one each month beginning with The Creator in January (because, after all, it’s the start of the new year and new beginnings.) But before we leap into that endeavor, look for our upcoming post “Positioning an Archetype: The Connection Between Brand and Customer.” If you simply can’t wait, give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss how your archetype can take your marketing to a whole new level.