Archetypes and Brand Purpose: How Archetypes Define Your Reason for Being

by | Feb 13, 2018 | Archetypes, Brand Development

In my previous post, we became familiar with archetypes. These are the universal stories that carry deep meaning in a light-weight package. Because they’re easily understood, the experience of an archetype is timeless

We’re all seeking something

Are you a brand that seeks a better world through the insights and understanding you provide clients? Or maybe you seek to make change in the world through products that liberate old ways of thinking?

Perhaps you use your core strength of service to establish structure where there is none? Or, does your brand seek connection through moments of enjoyment?

All brands seek something, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. It’s not simply to make a profit. It’s a bigger view of the world and your place within it. Your customers are seeking something as well. It’s why they chose to buy from you.

In other words, all brands need to have a purpose. A reason to exist. Archetypes are integral in defining your reason for being. They quickly and succinctly spread across mission/vision/values, positioning, messaging, and your visual identity.

Dig deeper

Some of the most notable brands use the power of the Rebel (Apple) and the Hero (Nike) to infuse a sense of purpose and meaning into their culture and message.

But archetypes go deeper than just the front-facing marketing messages we’ve come to adore. You don’t just cherry pick your favorite or most impressive qualities and market the hell out of them.

To identify with an archetype is less of choosing what sounds appealing and more of something you uncover.

Archetypes and motivation

Characteristics of archetypes are not prescriptive. When kept honest, you’ll see powerful similarities in their traits to the inner workings of your brand and customers. This is because there are deeper needs and motivations at work.

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink outlines three core areas of motivation. They are autonomy, mastery and meaning. The thinking goes like this:

Autonomy is the ability to be self-directed or acting with choice. Specifically, autonomy over what you do, when you do it, how you do it and who you do it with is essential.

Next, mastery gives us a long-term activity to increasingly improve on. It challenges our perseverance and passion towards a common goal.

Lastly, meaning gives purpose to all other pieces. When we are fueled by the energy of being in service to something bigger than ourselves, we sustain fulfillment.

Understanding your three core archetypes and how those fuel your brand’s autonomy, mastery and meaning provide immeasurable value when developing new offerings, hiring talent or going through M&A’s.

Archetypes are integral in defining your reason for being. They quickly and succinctly spread across mission, vision, values, positioning, messaging, and your visual identity.

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Wants and needs

No customer or brand wants to be alienated so we have a need to belong to some type of group. Yet we also must maintain our independence to forge our own path. In a similar way, we may long for stability and control. But too much stability can keep us stagnant. So, we venture into a sea of risk to feel a sense of accomplishment.1

The constant push and pull of these wants and needs on our behavior shapes our experiences. A customer will purchase from a brand that gives them the feeling of stability they’re searching for. Or, a brand’s natural strengths will lead them to create products and services to provide the feeling of independence for their clients.


The alignment of your brand’s purpose with the appropriate archetypes will activate meaning and provide deep insight into the needs of your team and customers.

Because we all seek something, we need a simple but effective way to articulate those wants and needs quickly. Archetypes give us the language to communicate our brand purpose with our team and customers in emotionally charged ways.


1: Mark, Margaret and Pearson, Carol S. The Hero and the Outlaw. McGraw-Hill, 2001

About The Author

Jason strongly believes in business as a force for good. Bringing a rare balance of strategic thinking and design thinking, he helps clients build insight through a mindful framework. For more info on how a mindful approach to brand strategy can help your startup or small business, visit

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