“A brand that captures your mind gains behavior. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.”

Kent Huffman


“Archetypes to symbols to thought-forms to emotions to motions to manifestations; that's how it flows. Everything and everyone originates in step one. Even me, you too.”

Yannis Karatsioris

Decoding Modern Marketing


Just like people have their rational, analytical side and their emotional side, so do brands. When we first meet someone, all the visual and behavioral cues that we experience give us an impression of their personality. Then, over time, as we get to know them our perceptions deepen. People respond to brands in a similar way.


There has been a great deal of research over the years on the subject of brand personality and why it seems to work. Research by Jennifer L. Aaker at Stanford, in the late nineties, found a pretty close correlation between the five basic personality characteristics and the qualities that people imbue brands with, which brands quite happily invest themselves with too. Her research actually found that the correlation wasn’t quite one-to-one, and that certain qualities of brand personality derived from the aspirational effect of associating with brands. In other words, brands could make us dream about what was possible in ourselves and our lives. The chart below shows the five qualities that Aaker’s research found were most associated with brands. Sophistication and Ruggedness are the two that speak most to aspirations and correlate more closely with brands than with people.

Another useful way to look at brand personality is Brand Archetypes. The idea is borrowed from the concept by famed psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that there are universal, timeless personality types. If consumers relate to brands like people, the theory goes, then brands should model their personality on one of Jung’s primary archetypes in order to take advantage of its built in power.

An analysis of 14,000 brands worldwide by BrandZ™ identified several archetypes that seem to be more successful for brands than others. They noticed that brands with certain archetypes tended to produce stronger brand equity. Interestingly they noted that the Top 100 brands are most often “Sage Rulers,” such as IBM or Microsoft.


Explorer brands - Jeep, GoPro

Hero brands - FedEx, Nike

Creator brands – Apple, Adobe

There are generally four groupings of archetypes. Those that provide structure, those that reflect our yearning for bliss, those that speak to our need to leave our mark, and those about connecting with others. Whether you use this method or Aaker’s, you should begin to have a sense of the type of personality that will fit your brand from the strategic work you have already done. Recognizing that your choice of your brand personality will guide everything you do in marketing, advertising and how you interact with your customers, don’t guess. Make sure you go through a methodical process, and ensure that what you decide upon is aligned with the other aspects of your brand.