- Vanessa Rowley-Matthew
Black Brand Archetypes (of the African Diaspora)
Updated: Feb 26
Image credit: Vanity Fair
Note: This brand archetypes article will continue to be developed and enhanced. All images below are credited to Getty, the individuals mentioned, notable publications, or their employers. VCM Strategies takes no credit for the images in this article.
Black Brand Archetypes (12 Personalities)
It is September 18, 2022, when writing this, and I could not find brand archetypes solely representative of people from the African Diaspora. So, I decided to create one. Brand archetypes were initially identified by the psychologist, Carl Jung, to represent common personality types. There are 12 core personality types, each with four sub-brand archetypes. Brand archetypes are great for getting clear on who we are and the who of our brand. Here they are:
Brands/People Who Want to: Leave a Legacy | Be Remembered
The Outlaw, The Magician, and The Hero
Brands/People Who Want to: Provide Structure
The Caregiver, The Creator, and The Ruler
Brands/People Who Want to: Explore Spirituality | Seek Paradise | Obtain True Freedom
The Innocent, The Sage, and The Explorer
Brands/People Who Want to: Pursue Connection
The Lover, The Everyman/Everywoman, and The Jokester
Why Brand Archetypes Effective For Brands
Brand archetypes are effective in marketing for several reasons:
They create a clear and consistent brand identity
By aligning a brand with a specific archetype, it can create a clear and consistent brand identity that resonates with customers and stakeholders. This can make it easier for them to understand what the brand stands for and what it offers.
They tap into universal themes and values
Brand archetypes are based on universal themes and values that are familiar to people across cultures and generations. By tapping into these archetypes, brands can create an emotional connection with customers and stakeholders, making their message more relatable.
They help differentiate a brand from its competitors
By using a specific archetype, a brand can differentiate itself from its competitors and stand out in a crowded marketplace. This can help customers and stakeholders remember the brand and build a long-term relationship with it.
They provide a framework for storytelling
Brand archetypes provide a framework for storytelling that can help brands create a compelling narrative that resonates with customers and stakeholders. This can help to create a deeper emotional connection with customers and stakeholders and make the brand more memorable.
They provide guidance for marketing and branding decisions
By using an archetype as a guide, brands can make marketing and branding decisions more easily and consistently. This can save time and resources and help to create a more cohesive brand image.
Overall, brand archetypes are effective in marketing because they help brands create a clear and consistent identity that resonates with their target audience and sets them apart from their competitors.
Black Brand Archetypes (of the African Diaspora)
Brands/People Who Want to: Leave a Legacy | Be Remembered
The Outlaws - think Missy Elliott, Lil Naz X, or Stacey Abrams. As an Outlaw brand, you desire liberation. Also known as the activist, gambler, maverick, or reformer.
Outlaw brands look to shake things up by doing things differently. No one is going to put them in a box or make them obey the social systems in place that would make many feel like conforming is the best way to exist. Appeal to this archetype by letting them know that you share the same view on life. Show them that the revolution shall not be televised but that there is one happening.
Goal: Change systems that are not working
Values: Liberation, Change, Justice, Independence, Freedom, Autonomy
Fears: Conformity, Complacency, Dependence, Servitude, Obedience
Voice: Disruptive, Combative, Rebellious, Headstrong
Strategy: Disrupt the status quo
Motto: "Break the rules, create your own path."
The motto, "break the rules, create your own path," encourages customers to embrace their individuality and reject the norms of society while also suggesting that the brand itself is doing the same thing. It's a powerful statement that can resonate with people who are looking for something different and unconventional in their lives.
The Magicians - think Disney Imagineer, Lanny Smoot, Dasia Taylor, or Arlyne Simon. As a Magician brand, you also provide transformations. Also known as the alchemist, engineer, innovator, or scientist.
Magician brands make what seems to be impossible possible. These brands use a depth of information that others typically do not know to lead in creating transformations. They have a vision for what they want to see, and they go forth to make it a reality. Appeal to the Magician by inviting them along the journey of transformation or by creating a magical moment for them.
Goal: Make dreams come true
Values: Transformation, Oneness, Curiosity, Manifesting, Magical Moments, Self-Preservation
Fears: Consequences, Stagnation, Uncertainty, Ignorance
Voice: Reassuring, Encouraging, Hopeful, Mystical, Informed
Strategy: Create a unique vision
Motto: "Transform your world with our magic."
The motto, "transform your world with our magic," for the Magician archetype is about creating something new and exciting that can change people's lives. This motto captures that spirit. It suggests that the brand has the power to transform people's worlds and create something magical and amazing. By using this motto, a Magician brand can tap into the emotions and aspirations of its customers and inspire them to take action and make a change in their lives.
The Heroes - think Mohammad Ali, John Lewis, or Nanisca of the Women King, played by Viola Davis. As a Hero brand, you inspire others to feel empowered and to succeed, rising to one's ambitions. Also known as the athlete, liberator, rescuer, or warrior.
Most Hero brands embody the principle, "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," in the words of Mohammad Ali. To do so takes a level of focus and level-headedness to be precise in the actions one needs to take to move forward. A Hero brand, deep down, really just wants to save the day because it believes it can. Appeal to the Hero brand by making others feel like they can be a Hero, too. One who stands up for what's right and takes challenges head-on.
Goal: Improve the world
Values: Mastery, Courage, Strength, Stamina, Goodness, Redemption, Transformation
Fears: Incompetence, Cowardice, Downfall, Incapability
Voice: Honest, Candid, Brave, Gutsy
Strategy: Be motivational and strong-willed
Motto: "Empower your inner hero."
The motto, "empower your inner hero," taps into the heroic qualities of the archetype, calling customers to be a hero themselves. It focuses on empowering the hero within them. The motto suggests that the brand's products or services have the power to unlock the customer's inner hero and help them achieve their goals and dreams. It can be very effective in appealing to customers who may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about their ability to be heroic.
People Who Want to: Provide Structure
The Caregivers - think Iyana Vanzant, Supernanny Deborah Tillman, or JoMarie Payton as Harriet on Family Matters, the TV show. As a Caregiver brand, you help those in need in a motherly way. Also known as the angel, guardian, healer, or samaritan.
The Caregiver brand is out to care for and protect others. Healthcare professionals and nonprofits often fall under the Caregiver archetype. Appeal to this personality by making customers feel cared for, protected, and safe.
Goal: To help others
Values: Compassion, Empathy, Gratitude, Service, Support, Self-Care, Kindness
Fears: Neglect, Blame, Helplessness, Anguish
Voice: Supportive, Caring, Warm, Protective
Strategy: Serve others
Motto: "Empathy is a superpower."
The motto, "empathy is a superpower," emphasizes the importance of empathy and compassion in the Caregiver archetype. It suggests that the brand's products or services are designed to provide care that is deeply personal and empathetic, focused on the needs of the individual as well as the practicalities of the situation. It also implies that the brand understands the power of empathy and is dedicated to infusing that spirit into every aspect of its caregiving services.
The Creators - think Daymond John, Dr. Dre, or Maya Angelou. As a Creator brand, you provide the tools for others to express themselves in a creative way. Also known as the artist, entrepreneur, storyteller, or visionary.
The Creator archetype creates what is new or reimagines what is there, often capitalizing on opportunities to express themselves. Appeal to the Creator personality by giving them the tools or skills to create something unique too.
Goal: Turn ideas into reality
Values: Self-expression, Imagination, Out-of-the-box Thinking, Originality, Creativity
Fears: Stagnation, Duplication, Familiarity
Voice: Daring, Provocative, Inspirational
Strategy: Use creativity to solve problems
Motto: "Bring your vision to life."
The motto, "bring your vision to life," speaks to the creative and innovative qualities of the Creator archetype, which is all about bringing something new and exciting into the world. The motto suggests that the brand's products or services are designed to help customers bring their own visions and ideas to life. It positions the brand as a partner in the creative process, providing the tools and resources that customers need to make their dreams a reality.
The Rulers - think Beyonce, Ketanji Brown Jackson, or James Avery as Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As a Ruler brand, you lead with authority and give others a sense of power as well. Also known as the ambassador, judge, patriarch, or sovereign.
The Ruler reigns supreme in their own domain. They can even be a little intimidating. Money, power, or respect are most important to ruler brands. Appeal to this personality with the promise of money, power, or respect with a tone of superiority. Think luxury or high-quality.
Goal: Bring order to chaos
Values: Rank, Tradition, Stability, Nobility, Benevolence, Power, Prosperity, Status, Success, Control, Achievement
Fears: Failure, Poverty, Insignificance
Voice: Refined, Articulate, Commanding
Strategy: Use influence and authority
Motto: "Lead with confidence, shape your world."
The motto, "lead with confidence, shape your world," speaks to the leadership qualities of the Ruler archetype, which is all about taking charge and shaping the world around you. The mantra suggests that the brand's products or services can help customers become more confident and effective leaders, enabling them to take control of their lives and make a positive impact on the world.
It positions the brand as a source of authority and expertise, providing customers with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed. The mantra also implies that the brand values competence and excellence and encourages customers to strive for success in their personal and professional lives.
People Who Want to: Explore Spirituality | Seek Paradise | Obtain True Freedom
The Innocents - think Halle Bailey, Skai Jackson, or Dominique Thorne (Marvel's Ironheart). As an Innocent brand, you are linked to safety, positivity, and happiness, lacking ill-will towards others. Also known as the child, dreamer, idealist, or muse.
The Innocent brand archetype is that of any child. Adults who read this may be turned off at the idea that they are childlike when they should not be insulted. What this personality type is really alluding to is that if you are Innocent you have a positive personality and present a positive outlook on life despite how hard life can be.
This is not to say you do not have bad days. You are just more likely to be emotionally regulated or well into your healing journey. This personality wishes no ill will on others and can enjoy the little things in life. It is a personality type we should all aspire to embody most of our days. Appeal to this personality by being positive, optimistic, encouraging, open, and honest.
Goal: To be happy
Values: Purity, Wholesomeness, Honesty, Optimism, Simplicity, Positivity, Happiness, Authenticity, Sincerity,
Fears: Negativity, Deceit, Anguish, Depravity
Strategy: Do the right things
Voice: Optimistic, Honest, Humble
Motto: "Experience the pure joy of life."
This motto embodies the optimistic and joyful qualities of the Innocent archetype, which is all about finding happiness and contentment in the simple things in life. The motto suggests that the brand's products or services can bring customers a sense of joy and innocence, allowing them to experience the world with a childlike wonder and appreciation. It positions the brand as a source of purity and simplicity, focused on bringing happiness and positivity into customers' lives. The mantra also implies that the brand understands the joys of life and is dedicated to helping its customers experience them to the fullest.
The Sages - think Erykah Badu, Morgan Freeman, or Cornel West. As a Sage brand, you provide knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Also known as the detective, mentor, shaman, or translator.
Sage brands are educators, truth-seekers, and philosophers. These brands focus on understanding the world to share what they've learned with others. With the "truth" being hard for people to hear and subjective, sage brands find themselves challenged, even with the truth being undeniable. Appeal to the Sage personality by stating the facts and providing data or supporting evidence. Sage personalities like information just as much as the Sage brand. Typically educated, a Sage brand should never dumb down its content for its readers or viewers.
Goal: Understand the world
Values: Wisdom, Intelligence, Truth, Clarity, Expertise, Information, Cognitive Fulfillment, Learning, Personal Growth, Social Change
Fears: Ignorance, Powerlessness, Misinformation, Inaccuracy
Voice: Assured, Guiding, Knowledgeable
Strategy: Become well informed
Motto: "Expand your mind, transform your world."
The motto, "expand your mind, transform your world," speaks to the transformative power of knowledge and also suggests that the brand's products or services can help customers expand their minds and gain new insights. It positions the brand as a source of wisdom and enlightenment, focused on helping customers transform their lives and the world around them. It also implies that the brand understands the importance of knowledge and is dedicated to helping its customers gain the understanding they need to make a positive impact on the world.
The Explorers - think Mae Carol Jamison, Jennifer Lewis, or Oprah Winfrey. As a Ruler brand, you challenge the confines of modern life to explore the depths of one's soul or the outdoors. Also known as the adventurer, generalist, pioneer, or seeker.
The Explorer brand can be one that connects to the pleasures of being out in nature or on the road. But it can also be a brand that has decided to take the road less traveled. Appeal to this personality by helping the Explorer take roads that are less traveled, such as going down the path of entrepreneurship, self-discovery, or outdoor adventures, for example.
Goal: Experience a fulfilling life
Values: Adventure, Exploration, Self-Discovery, Independence, Freedom, Bravery
Fears: Confinement, Entrapment, Immobility, Incarceration
Voice: Exciting, Fearless, Daring
Strategy: Take the road less traveled
Motto: "Unleash your inner adventurer."
The motto, "unleash your inner adventurer," encourages customers to tap into their sense of adventure and explore the world around them. It also suggests that the brand's products or services can help customers unleash their inner Explorer, enabling them to discover new experiences, cultures, and perspectives. The motto positions the brand as a partner in adventure, inspiring customers to take risks and pursue their passions.
People Who Want to: Pursue Connection
The Lovers - think Rihanna, Toni Braxton, or Tank. As the Lover brand, you appeal to the desire for sensual pleasure, closeness, love, and affection. Also known as the hedonist, companion, matchmaker, or romantic.
Your entire playlist of sexy songs is all for the Lover in you. Outside of the love ballads, the Lover brand promotes love, desire, intimacy, sensuality, attention, and indulgence on multiple levels, not just physically. Appeal to the Lover by presenting them with ways to increase their appeal, by helping to make them feel wanted, or by helping them to indulge in things that make them feel pampered or treated.
Goal: To be desired
Values: Love, Affection, Indulgence, Sensuality, Appreciation, Beauty, Closeness, Intimacy
Fears: Loneliness, Isolation, Rejection, Invisibility
Voice: Soothing, Sensual, Empathetic
Strategy: Become more appealing/attractive
Motto: "Indulge in the pleasure of love."
The motto, "indulge in the pleasures of love," embodies the passionate and sensual qualities of the Lover archetype, which is all about connecting with others on a deep and emotional level. When applied to a brand, the motto suggests that the brand's products or services can help customers experience the pleasures of love, enabling them to connect with others in a meaningful and fulfilling way. It positions the brand as a source of romance and intimacy, focused on helping customers create deeper and more meaningful connections with the people they love.
The Everymen/ Everywomen - think Charlamagne tha God, Samuel L. Jackson, or Roxane Gay. As the Everyman/woman brand, you create a welcoming atmosphere driven by equality and inclusion. Also known as the citizen, networker, servant, or advocate.
The Everyman/woman brand wants everyone to feel like they belong in some way. This personality ranges from those who want social change for others to feel like they are equal or belong to those who just want to feel like they belong. This is a brand looking out for the everyday person. Appeal to this personality by sharing your values. The key is just to deliver your message in the most down-to-earth way.
Goal: To belong
Values: Faithfulness, Support, Equality, Inclusion, Fellowship, Togetherness, Respect, Fairness
Fears: Exclusion, Isolation, Hostility, Disassociation
Voice: Friendly, Authentic, Passionate
Strategy: Blend in, fit in
Motto: "Real solutions for real people."
The motto, "real solutions for real people," embodies the down-to-earth and practical qualities of the Everyman archetype, which is all about connecting with people on a relatable and familiar level. The motto suggests that the brand's products or services are designed to solve real problems for real people, addressing the everyday challenges and concerns that people face.
It positions the brand as a source of practicality and usefulness, focused on providing customers with practical solutions that they can rely on. The motto also implies that the brand understands the needs of everyday people and is dedicated to helping them overcome their everyday challenges.
The Jokesters - think Janelle James, Kevin Hart, or Niecy Nash. As a Jokester brand, you promote good times, ready to bring levity to life. Also known as the clown, entertainer, provocateur, or shapeshifter.
Some people are just really good at making other people laugh. Observative, Jokesters know how to bring levity to aspects of human life. They are all about having a good time and not taking life too seriously. Appeal to this personality by connecting with others through laughter and joy.
Goal: Make people laugh
Values: Humor, Fun, Laughter, Togetherness, Originality, Self-Expression, Play
Fears: Boredom, Gloom, Negativity, Sadness
Voice: Fun, Playful, Optimistic
Strategy: Have fun and be playful
Motto: "Laugh more, live more."
The motto, "laugh more, live more," embodies the playful and humorous qualities of the Jokester archetype, which is all about bringing joy and laughter to the world. The motto suggests that the brand's products or services can help customers experience more laughter and joy in their lives, enabling them to enjoy life to the fullest. It positions the brand as a source of fun and entertainment, focused on providing customers with experiences that are enjoyable and lighthearted.
Incorporating Brand Archetypes Into Your Marketing
By selecting one, at most, two brand archetypes that best match your brand goals, values, and mission, you can create a brand story that aligns with the values and themes of the archetype. The personality of the archetype can then be applied to visual and verbal branding and used for marketing campaigns. The key is to be consistent, as incorporating brand archetypes into marketing can help a brand create a more effective and memorable brand identity that resonates with its target audience.
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