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Hero or Outlaw?
What is Your Brand Archetype?

5 min read

You’re too busy to read this blog.

Our lives are crowded, if not chaotic. Too much media. Too many ads. Too many talking heads. Too much screentime. Too much clutter to sort through. So, if this blog post doesn’t prove valuable to you, we hope you’ll send it the way of the virtual circular file.

Busy, overwhelmed, with fleeting attention spans. If this is how you, and everyday consumers feel, it makes it that much more challenging (and important) to find a way to quickly stand out. 

No, we’re not talking about a temporary viral hit, or a flash-in-the-pan, once-in-a-career piece of content. We’re talking about a long-term strategy that touches every facet of your business, to sustainably stand out in an oversaturated marketing, messaging, and media environment. 

Simply put, it all starts (and ends) with your brand.

“Tell me something I haven’t heard before.”

We know. We know. You must be thinking… “Tell me something new. Branding has been around since the beginning of time.”

And that’s precisely the point; the beginning of time should be our immediate focus as marketers. What are those simple, primordial stories that we can harness in the daily rinse cycle of content and creative.

Enter archetypes. According to Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology and “the collective unconscious,” archetypes represent primitive mental images inherited from our earliest ancestors and hardwired in our collective psyches.  

Translation: there are distinct types of mental images that are universally recognizable and equally timeless. Jung classified these images as twelve original archetypes. Each of the twelve is both innately familiar and intrinsically understood: the Lover, Jester, Everyman, Caregiver, Ruler, Artist, Innocent, Sage, Explorer, Outlaw, Magician, and Hero. 

We won’t get into the nitty gritty of each in this post; however, if you’re looking for the Holy Grail of brand archetype information and toolkits, click no further.

These twelve archetypes display traits and attributes that connect with and are easily interpreted by people. In other words, a “Hero” story can be inferred without explanation just by our collective understanding of what a Hero is. In a world of 280 characters, plummeting click-through rates, and an average consumer attention span of 8 seconds, verbal, visual, and visceral shorthand is one very simple way to cut through the crap and focus our content and communication.

Human-centered branding

At the end of the day, it’s people – customers, clients, colleagues, competitors, collaborators – that dictate how our companies are perceived in the world. So why wouldn’t we ensure that our marketing activities emanate from a brand personality that is aligned with people?

Our people (clients) come to GO to solve problems. Creative, complex; sometimes, seemingly crazy problems, across a wide variety of industries, products, and services. 

In turn, our brand mission is to do good work, with good people, for good people. It’s not only a reflection of the aforementioned brand alignment, but also our north star, an affirmation of commitment, and a statement of strategic branding. It informs everything that we do. We certainly don’t go into every project knowing the path forward or the eventual outcome; but, we are always committed to delivering a quality experience and quality work, from a quality team.

classic archetype wheel
Diagram of the Classic Archetype Wheel


Mapped on the classic archetype wheel, GO embodies “The Magician”. Our best work is often done in the background. Many, if not most, of the creative complexities and strategic machinations are often unseen, but the end results empower our clients to make a positive impact for their business, and hopefully the world.

We do that through people. Hiring the right people, treating people right, working with like-minded and mission-driven companies, and delivering high quality, high impact work that helps our customers serve their people. 

That’s the special sauce. That’s it. It’s simple, but it’s much easier said than done.

Authenticity isn’t easy.

Where brand archetypes (and branding in general) fail, is when brand storytelling is built as a façade to hide a company’s true self. You can’t market or advertise away underlying problems with company culture, community, or customer service. So, if you present yourself as a Caregiver, but your customer reviews and employee engagement bely your brand, the basis for your customer relationship is misleading at best and intentionally dishonest at worst. 

Therefore, we believe, that one of the most important decisions a company can make is to spend time discovering its authentic archetype and developing a brand that stands-out in an honest and sustainable way. 

Is your brand considering what the market status quo looks like, how similarly competitors present themselves? Are your solving or ignoring customer pain points? Are you building something short-term and transactional, or long-term and loyalty garnering? Once your archetype is clearly considered and defined, it acts as a simple lens through which to view and plan content, and as a filter for what is on and off-brand. 

In our case, for GO to be successful, our clients need to succeed. For our clients to succeed, our team must be purposeful, positive, and powerful. Ergo, all roads lead back to our people.