Find your brand’s spirit animal: the furry & feathered alternative to brand archetypes
Always-on social media content means people interact with brands as much as they do with each other. With hours on end spent on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, brands have constantly had to step up their game. As such, it has become crucially important to define a brand’s personality, as part of its brand strategy, linking it to familiar human traits that the audience can relate to and root for.
This is where brand archetypes come into play. Introduced by Carl Jung close to a century ago, these 12 universal personality types draw their traits from the most common human behaviors and are found everywhere we look: in the people around us, our favorite fictional characters and, most importantly, the brands we know and love! Because yes, some of the world’s most successful companies have built on this framework to personify their brand.
Today, we are adding our own twist to the traditional Jung archetypes and heading into the wild to get inspired by animals and the way they’re perceived through cultures in order to help you soar high, dive in deep, or just raise your paw in recognition.
Koala – The Innocent:
Who doesn’t like koalas? Their sweet face, childlike demeanor and quiet ways have won the hearts of so many. In their homeland of Australia, they’re practically considered as part of the family. Similarly, brands under the Innocent archetype strive to create a world where they and their target audience feel happy and safe. So, if Koalas had to pick a product that best represents them, it would probably be a Dove soap bar. Makes them feel good and nice at the same time!
Renowned Innocent / Koala brands:
Dog – The Everyman:
Man’s best friend comes in all sizes, breeds, and attitudes. But we’ll stick to the one that pops in everyone’s head when the word “loyalty” is uttered: a golden Labrador. Labs love to build cuddly connections with everyone in the room. They’re also loyal and eager to fit in. Equally, brands who identify as the Everyman archetype are perceived as friendly and genuine, successfully gathering around them a community of loyal customers who can’t resist their easy charm and yearn for life’s simple pleasures.
Renowned Dog / Everyman brands:
Horse – The Hero:
Did you know that Nike was named after the goddess of victory? It thus comes as no surprise that the brand has come to embody the Hero archetype, inspiring the world’s best athletes to “just do it”. Today, a pair of Nike is the equivalent of a historical hero’s horse carrying them to victory. Same goes for all brands that fall under the Hero archetype; they strive to fuel their target audience’s sense of purpose and accomplishment. If you’re a Hero archetype, you jump on the horse and inspire others, becoming their best ally in unleashing their full potential.
Renowned Horse / Hero brands:
Eagle – The Outlaw:
Odds are you pictured a Harley Davidson as soon as you read “Outlaw”. And who would blame you? The brand has banked on this archetype to the point it has become synonymous with it. Harley Davidson’s logo even featured an eagle in their early days. With its wings spread wide, this majestic bird is always ready to disrupt and overturn the tables. But don’t be intimidated by the roaring engines, outlaws can be found in any industry, and some of the world’s most established brands – such as Google and Apple – have started as outlaws before growing into a different archetype.
Renowned Eagle / Outlaw brands:
Sea turtles – The Explorer:
Between nesting and foraging grounds, some sea turtle species swim more than 10,000 miles a year. And because the Explorer archetype thrives on the thirst for discovery and thrilling new adventures outside the confinements of modern society, we couldn’t possibly compare it to another animal. If your brand taps into people’s wish to discover the world in a new way and dive into the unknown, get inspired by the newly hatched sea turtle making its way against waves crashing on the shore and invite your target audience on a journey to discover what lies beyond the shores they know.
Renowned Sea turtle / Explorer brands:
Bees – The Creator:
If imaginative, inventive and driven are attributes you’d like to make your own, then you should consider bees as your brand’s spirit animal. For two obvious reasons: the honey they make from mere pollen and those impressive bee hives. It’s safe to say that for this bunch, as well as for all brands falling under the Creator’s archetype, it’s all about self-expression in material form. Brands that follow the bees are innovative and often strive to bring a certain vision to life. Apple? Yes. And we’re not just talking about the fruit that results from said pollination.
Renowned Bees / Creator brands:
Lion – The Ruler:
Power and prestige are what wakes the Ruler archetype up in the morning. Therefore, the brands they wear around their wrist, dress in, and park in their garage should speak the same language: that of the elite. Nothing shouts –or rather roars – control, dominance and royalty as loud as lions. King of the Savanna, perfect hairdo and all. They’d probably drive around in a Mercedes Benz with the AC on if they could.
Renowned Lion / Ruler brands:
Butterfly – The Magician:
Caterpillars are some of the most determined and magical creatures on the planet. They spend their whole life getting ready to go beyond, becoming multicolored, dazzling butterflies. Much like them, the visionary brands that fall under the Magician archetype grow to become more than mere service providers and bank on offering their audience an experience that transcends transactions and everyday life. If you are a Magician brand, you ultimately create a special bond with people, one that taps into their aspirations and dreams.
Renowned Butterfly / Magician brands:
Peacock – The Lover:
You know exactly where we’re heading with this one. Peacocks never shy away from going the extra mile to ignite passion and romance. All they have to do is shake that tale feather of theirs. Brands that fall under the Lover archetype see the world from the same viewpoint, it’s all about beauty, charm and esthetics. To seduce the Lover that lies in their target audience, they work on building an intimate rapport that combines sensuality and harmony, making them feel at ease and desirable.
Renowned Peacock / Lover brands:
Elephant – The Caregiver:
Don’t be fooled by the tusks and impressive silhouette; this one is all about what’s best for the herd. Elephants show empathy, understand human intentions and body language, and even mourn their dead. Much like elephants, brands that embody the Caregiver archetype are selfless, perceptive and driven by the need to protect and serve others. Yes, it does apply to humanitarian and non-profit work, but a lot of brands from various industries have also donned the Caregiver persona to attract a growing audience of consumers aiming to make conscious purchasing decisions.
Renowned Elephant / Caregiver brands:
Monkey – The Jester:
Spend some time watching a monkey go about its life and you’ll probably get a day’s worth of laughter. You’ll also know beyond a doubt why we chose to associate this animal with the Jester archetype. These creatures, like some brands, are witty and irreverent, combining entertainment and mischief. If your brand is all about promoting fun times, living in the present and enjoying life to the fullest, then it is a Jester, on a constant mission to make people enjoy life to the fullest.
Renowned Monkey / Jester brands:
Octopus – The Sage:
The list’s last archetype is the Sage. Brands that fall under this archetype want to understand the world and share their gained wisdom with others. They are our researchers, mentors, and teachers. And truth be told, wouldn’t it be easier to seek the truth and gather knowledge when you have NINE brains? It is exactly the number of brains an octopus has, one large central one and eight mini brains, one in each arm.
Renowned Octopus / Sage brands:
When building your brand, it’s important to draw inspiration from anything and everything in order to make it look, feel, and sound as thorough and real as possible. More elaborate brand strategies mean more details and analogies. Because people compare things; that’s what we do to make sense of the world that surrounds us. We personify our pets, name boats and hurricanes, and assign features, behaviors, and adjectives to essentially anything.
So it’s crucial for you to make sure that your brand reflects the features, behaviors, and attributes that your target audience identifies with or is striving to make its own.