Learn the 12 brand archetypes from 12 famous people

Discover the brand archetype of famous actors, creators, thought leaders and public figures, to better understand the unique qualities of each brand archetype. 

What is a personal brand archetype?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, brand archetypes will help you craft a memorable, aspirational professional profile you can grow into over time. Remember – personal branding is not just a tool for visibility, but a professional growth strategy.

Archetypes are universal symbols or patterns that represent fundamental human motivations and desires. While originally rooted in psychology to explain deep-seated aspects of the human psyche, the world of marketing and branding has since co-opted archetypes for business and leadership brand design.

Why use personal brand archetypes?

By aligning your personal brand with a specific archetype combination, you can create a more resonant and authentic connection with your audience, tapping into these universal patterns to evoke strong emotional responses and build lasting relationships.

How can I find my brand archetype?

In the one-one-one brand strategy design that I take my thought leadership clients through, I find that they usually have one dominant archetype, and two secondary archetypes that influence the expression of the dominant one. This combination helps to create a more nuanced and multifaceted brand identity. 

You can find your own unique personal brand archetype combination in my guide below – or work with me personally to co-design your personal brand

Meet the 12 core brand archetypes

There are actually 60 personal brand archetypes, but before you delve into those it’s important to understand the core 12 primary brand archetypes outlined in this article. To better understand how the archetypes play out in real life, I’ve analysed 12 famous figures to show you how they’re using archetypes to drive their professional presence and impact.

The 12 brand archetypes are divided into four groups according to the desire that drives their work and purpose. Each archetype has its own unique goal. 

Leave a mark or legacy (ego):

  • The Rebel: Goal – Liberation; Example: Richard Branson
  • The Magician: Goal – Transformation; Example: Steve Jobs
  • The Hero: Goal – Mastery; Example: Greta Thunberg

Build a connection (social):

  • The Lover: Goal – Intimacy; Example: Esther Perel
  • The Jester: Goal – Enjoyment; Example: Lady Gaga
  • The Neighbour: Goal – Belonging; Example: Michelle Obama

Provide structure (order):

  • The Caregiver: Goal – Service; Example: Oprah Winfrey
  • The Ruler: Goal – Control; Example: Elon Musk
  • The Creator: Goal – Innovation; Example: Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli)

Seek paradise (freedom):

  • The Innocent: Goal – Safety; Example: Emma Watson
  • The Sage: Goal – Wisdom; Example: Noam Chomsky
  • The Explorer: Goal – Freedom; Example: David Attenborough

Core desire: Leave a mark or legacy (ego)

The following three brand archetypes are united by a core desire to leave a mark or legacy. The Rebel, the Magician, and the Hero are driven by their transformative power, determination, and ability to challenge the status quo. Through their unique characteristics, they inspire change and create lasting impact.

The Rebel: Richard Branson

Richard Branson is the quintessential Rebel. He embodies this archetype through his unconventional approach to business and life. Branson has built his empire, Virgin Group, by challenging industry norms and pushing boundaries. Whether it’s launching an airline, a record label, or venturing into space tourism, Branson’s ventures are marked by a desire to break the status quo and innovate. His willingness to take risks, his disdain for bureaucratic red tape, and his flamboyant personality all reflect the Rebel’s spirit of liberation and defiance against established rules. Branson’s legacy is not just in the diverse businesses he has created, but in his demonstration that audacity and nonconformity can lead to immense success.

The Magician: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs epitomised the Magician archetype through his visionary leadership and his ability to transform industries. Jobs had a unique talent for seeing the potential in technology and turning abstract concepts into revolutionary products. With Apple, he redefined personal computing, music, mobile phones, and even retail with the Apple Stores. Jobs’ focus on design, user experience, and seamless integration of hardware and software made technology accessible and enchanting to the masses. His famous reality distortion field, where he could inspire and persuade others to achieve what seemed impossible, showcases the Magician’s power to turn dreams into reality. Jobs’ legacy is seen in the lasting impact of Apple’s products and the way they have changed how people interact with technology.

The Hero: Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg embodies the Hero archetype through her unwavering commitment to combating climate change. At a young age, she took on the monumental task of raising global awareness about environmental issues and demanding action from world leaders. Thunberg’s heroism is evident in her fearless advocacy, her ability to mobilise millions of people worldwide, and her persistent call for accountability and change. Despite facing criticism and significant obstacles, she remains steadfast in her mission, showcasing the Hero’s qualities of courage, resilience, and leadership. Thunberg’s legacy is already forming through the heightened global discourse on climate change and the inspiration she provides to young activists everywhere.

Core desire: Build connection (social)

The Lover, the Jester, and the Neighbour are archetypes driven by a fundamental desire to build connections. Whether through intimacy, enjoyment, or a sense of belonging, these archetypes prioritise relationships and social bonds. They exemplify the power of connection in creating meaningful and lasting impacts.

The Lover: Esther Perel

Esther Perel epitomises the Lover archetype through her work as a relationship therapist and author. Perel’s focus is on helping individuals and couples understand and navigate the complexities of intimacy and desire. She emphasises the importance of deep, meaningful connections and encourages people to explore their emotional landscapes. Her books and talks, such as “Mating in Captivity” and “The State of Affairs,” delve into the nuances of love, passion, and eroticism, fostering a greater understanding of intimacy in relationships. Perel’s ability to connect with her audience and her empathetic approach to relationship counselling showcase the Lover’s core qualities of deep connection and emotional engagement.

The Jester: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga embodies the Jester archetype with her flamboyant personality, bold fashion choices, and unapologetic self-expression. Gaga’s performances are characterised by their theatricality, humour, and unpredictability, inviting her audience to join in the fun and embrace their individuality. She uses her platform to challenge norms and encourage people to be themselves without fear of judgment. Songs like “Just Dance” and “Born This Way” promote joy, self-acceptance, and the freedom to enjoy life. Through her music, performances, and public persona, Lady Gaga fosters a sense of enjoyment and connection, embodying the Jester’s spirit of fun and social engagement.

The Neighbour: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is the epitome of the Neighbour archetype, focusing on community, inclusion, and empowerment. As former First Lady of the United States, she championed causes such as healthy eating, education, and support for military families, always emphasising the power of community and togetherness. Her initiatives, like the “Let’s Move!” campaign, aimed to create a healthier future for children by encouraging families to work together towards common goals. In her memoir “Becoming” and her public engagements, Michelle Obama speaks to the importance of belonging and collective strength. Her genuine, approachable demeanour and dedication to fostering connections reflect the Neighbour’s values of community and social bonds.

Core desire: Provide structure (order)

The Caregiver, the Ruler, and the Creator are archetypes driven by a fundamental desire to provide structure and order. These archetypes focus on creating environments where stability, support, and vision thrive. Together, they exemplify the power of order in fostering connections and leaving a lasting impact.

The Caregiver: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey embodies the Caregiver archetype through her dedication to helping others and her empathetic approach to storytelling. Throughout her career, Oprah has used her platform to address issues such as poverty, education, and health, often providing support and resources to those in need. Her philanthropic efforts, including the Oprah Winfrey Foundation and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, showcase her commitment to service and improving the lives of others. Oprah’s ability to connect with her audience on a deep, emotional level and her willingness to share her own vulnerabilities exemplify the Caregiver’s qualities of empathy, compassion, and a desire to nurture and protect others.

The Ruler: Elon Musk

Elon Musk epitomises the Ruler archetype through his visionary leadership and determination to shape the future. As the CEO of multiple groundbreaking companies, including Tesla and SpaceX, Musk exerts significant influence and control over technological advancements and industry trends. His bold goals, such as colonising Mars and revolutionising transport with electric vehicles, demonstrate his desire to command and structure the world according to his vision. Musk’s relentless drive, strategic thinking, and ability to inspire and mobilise vast resources reflect the Ruler’s qualities of authority, ambition, and a quest for power and control to create order and innovation.

The Creator: Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki embodies the Creator archetype through his dedication to crafting detailed and emotionally resonant stories that foster deep connections. As a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has created timeless animated films that explore themes of nature, humanity, and compassion. His works, such as “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” not only entertain but also provide moral and philosophical guidance, reflecting his commitment to service and nurturing a sense of community and understanding. Miyazaki’s meticulous approach to animation and storytelling provides a structured framework that allows his imaginative worlds to come to life with authenticity and emotional depth. Through his films, Miyazaki builds lasting connections with audiences, inspiring them to appreciate the beauty and complexity of life

Core desire: Seek paradise (freedom)

The Innocent, the Sage, and the Explorer are archetypes driven by a fundamental desire to seek paradise and freedom. These archetypes prioritise the pursuit of a better world through purity, wisdom, and adventure. Together, these archetypes exemplify the quest for freedom and a better, more enlightened world.

The Innocent: Emma Watson

Emma Watson embodies the Innocent archetype through her advocacy for gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. Originally known for her role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” series, today Watson’s public persona is marked by her genuine, hopeful outlook and her belief in the goodness of people. She actively promotes positive change through her work with the United Nations as a Women Goodwill Ambassador and her HeForShe campaign, which encourages men to support gender equality. Watson’s efforts to foster understanding, compassion, and positive social change reflect the Innocent’s qualities of purity, optimism, and a desire for a better, more inclusive world.

The Sage: Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is the epitome of the Sage archetype, renowned for his intellectual rigor and pursuit of knowledge. (Sidenote: he was my academic crush in my uni days!). As a linguist, philosopher, and political activist, Chomsky has contributed extensively to various fields of study, always encouraging critical thinking and intellectual exploration. His works challenge mainstream narratives and provoke deeper understanding, embodying the Sage’s relentless quest for truth and enlightenment. Chomsky’s dedication to education and his critical approach to examining societal structures exemplify the Sage’s qualities of wisdom, insight, and the pursuit of intellectual freedom. His profound influence on both academia and public discourse highlights the Sage’s role in seeking and sharing deeper truths.

The Explorer: David Attenborough

David Attenborough embodies the Explorer archetype through his lifelong dedication to exploring and documenting the natural world. As a renowned broadcaster and natural historian, Attenborough has taken audiences on countless journeys through his documentaries, revealing the wonders of the planet and advocating for its conservation. His work encourages a sense of adventure and curiosity, inspiring others to explore and appreciate the environment. Attenborough’s passion for discovery and his ability to convey the beauty and complexity of nature reflect the Explorer’s qualities of freedom, curiosity, and the pursuit of new experiences. His influential voice in conservation efforts underscores the Explorer’s commitment to seeking and protecting the natural world.

Archetype lessons from the influential, visible and powerful 

The famous personalities explored here vividly illustrate the power of brand archetypes in shaping how you can show up professionally. By aligning with a specific archetype, these individuals have not only created memorable and impactful personal brands but also connected deeply with their audiences. Whether it’s Richard Branson’s rebellious spirit, Steve Jobs’ transformative vision, or Oprah Winfrey’s nurturing presence, each of these people exemplifies the unique strengths and qualities of their respective archetypes.

Craft your own brand archetype

Understanding and harnessing brand archetypes can provide valuable insights into how you can craft your own professional identity. By identifying your dominant archetype and the secondary ones that influence you, you can leverage your innate qualities to build a resonant and authentic brand. This alignment can help you stand out in your field, foster meaningful connections, and ultimately leave a lasting legacy. Embrace the power of brand archetypes and see how they can transform your professional presence.

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