The Explorer Archetype: 10 Branding Examples

Arek Dvornechcuck
Branding Expert

I'm a strategist and designer based in New York who help brands grow by crafting distinctive brand identities, backed by strategy. Need help with your project?—Get in touch

Using the Explorer archetype in your brand strategy is something you should consider. Here are 10 Explorer brands that you can use as an inspiration.

In this article, I’m going to show you 10 examples of using the Explorer archetype in branding.

First, we are going to talk about what the Explorer archetype is and its traits and characteristics.

Then I will give you the 10 best examples of the Explorer brands in real life, and I will describe what they do in terms of the expression.

What kind of voice, message, colors, fonts and imagery they use to express that persona?

We will also talk about what the best use cases are for using the Explorer Archetype.

The Explorer Archetype

Moreover, I will show you how this archetype fits into the overall archetypal framework.

And what are the levels for this archetype? Yes, there are levels for this game.

We’ve got 12 main archetypes, but there are actually 60 archetypes in total.

So, the Explorer archetype is consists of: the Adventurer, the Pioneer, the Generalist, and the Seeker.

The Explorer Archetype

  1. Explorer Archetype Definition
  2. Explorer Archetype Examples
  3. Explorer Archetype Expression
  4. Explorer Archetype Use Case
  5. Explorer Archetype Family

1. Explorer Archetype Definition

The Explorer is one of the best archetypes that has this thirst for discovery and connection with nature.

The Explorer archetype's motto is: You only get one life, make it count.

It may also be known as the seeker, adventurer, wanderer, individualist, or rebel, and a true explorer in film would be Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones.

Explorer Archetype Definition

The Explorer’s core desire is to find out who they are through exploring the world.

They want to discover, explore, and be themselves.

They are independent self-starters who do not follow traditional ideas about life and prefer to go their own way.

This archetype is ready to do almost anything to avoid boredom and feeling trapped, even if it equates to higher risks.

Explorers need to have a purpose in their lives.

They achieve this need by craving for adventure, curiosity, and fearlessness.

Explorer brands are aimed towards people who are passionate about nature and have a desire to push boundaries.

They exist to help customers go on adventures, express and realize themselves, and they fear getting trapped, conforming, inner emptiness, and non-being.

2. Explorer Archetype Examples (10)

Now, let me give you some examples of using the Explorer Archetype in branding.

What are some examples of Explorer brands?

These brands can serve as your inspiration if you’re interested in using the Explorer archetype in your brand strategy.

Explorer Archetype Examples

Jeep (1)

First, Jeep is the perfect example of an Explorer brand.

Jeep

It uses classic images related to the "great outdoors", highlighting the vehicle's ability to go anywhere, even off the grid, more than any other vehicle.

Consumers are loyal to the brand because Jeep "understands" them.

Their ads often show customers enjoying great outdoor adventures, which represents the Explorer archetype.

Patagonia (2)

The second example is Patagonia, which is an American clothing company that markets and sells outdoor clothing.

Patagonia

Their target customers are outdoor adventurers and activists.

Patagonia has become synonymous with outdoor-oriented activities, consistently being the benchmark for environmentally friendly apparel.

This brand screams the Explorer archetype due to its passion for the environment and living a truly authentic life.

The North Face (3)

Another example of a brand adopting the Explorer archetype is The North Face.

It is a brand of adventure and outdoor apparel and equipment for hiking, camping, skiing, and snow sports.

So they are basically all the after-school activities that a typical Explorer consumer does with its slogan "Never Stop Exploring".

They encourage their customers to go out and experience the great outdoors.

Timberland (4)

The next example is Timberland, which is also a manufacturer and retailer of outdoor apparel.

Timberland

Their advertisements are their products showcased in a multitude of different locations.

Timberland’s description says, "Outfit for the journey, wherever the adventure may be".

That type of sentiment is a classic Explorer archetype.

National Geographic (5)

National Geographic is a global non-profit organization specializing in the study and protection of the Earth.

They are another company that lets people who are interested in learning and having fun in their daily lives.

This brand produced a television show called Explorer, in addition to countless other exploration and educational programs.

It's not subtle to adhere to their archetype, but they were also one step further and partnered with an adventure cruise company that offers exploration cruises.

Red Bull (6)

Red Bull is the best-selling energy drink in the world, with 7.9 billion cans sold in a year.

Red Bull’s slogan defines the brand as an Explorer—"Red Bull gives you wings".

Their ads always bring to life the thrill of discovering new places and experiences by appealing to their free-spirited audience.

Red Bull (7)

NASA stands for "National Aeronautics and Space Administration".

It is responsible for science and technology related to manned space flight, aviation, and space science.

Sometimes we forget that NASA is a brand.

Their vision is to "reach new heights and uncover the unknown".

This is basically what the Explorer archetype is about, but on a slightly larger scale.

Red Bull (8)

Land Rover is a British brand of mainly all-wheel-drive, off-road vehicles.

Red Bull

Its tagline aligns flawlessly with the Explorer archetype values:

"The power to take you anywhere. Above and beyond".

This archetype helps you discover who you are by embracing change, travel, and the unexpected, amazing journeys of life.

Starbucks (9)

Starbucks Corporation is a multinational chain of coffeehouses that serves the highest quality of arabica in the world.

You might be wondering how Starbucks became an Explorer brand archetype.

They emphasized the exotic quality of their products in their brand positioning.

Using a wide variety of beans and blends from around the world is definitely a huge risk.

Starbucks (10)

And last but not least, is Subaru, which is a global transportation manufacturer of automobiles and aircraft.

The Subaru brand presents its design as "all about being fun to drive".

They emphasize the freedom Subaru offers, rather than selling cars for luxury and comfort.

The brand is a beacon of innovation in the automotive sector, which is a great example of an Explorer brand archetype.

3. Explorer Archetype Expression

Now that you have several examples of Explorer brands, let me summarize how the Explorer archetype might be expressed in branding.

Explorer brands use an exciting, fearless, and daring tones of voice.

Explorer brands will usually market themselves with freedom, exploration, discovery, and individuality.

Explorer Archetype Expression

The power, excitement, and enthusiasm of these characters are another means of communication.

The message is frequently about celebrating the outdoors and arousing the target audience's desire for adventure.

Their tone of voice is always fearless, exciting, and daring.

And by doing so, they’re leaving their consumers feeling confident and passionate.

These brands aim to live for adventure and help their customers go on adventures and express themselves (like Patagonia).

Images containing mountains, oceans, and snow are commonly used as well (like The North Face or Timberland, for example).

And so, common image subjects include things like trees and bodies of water.

Therefore, the culture within an Explorer brand will be solely focused on outdoor activities.

This archetype is ready to do almost anything to avoid immobility and confinement, even if it means taking great risks.

Known for pushing the boundaries and enjoying unexpected discoveries, the Explorer has a "limitless" philosophy.

4. Explorer Archetype Use Case

The Explorer archetype, in general, provides a good identity for brands that promote freedom and adventure.

Explorer archetype is best for automotive, outdoor equipment, and travel.

These brands might be associated with qualities like passion, youthfulness, boldness, energy, joy, and peace.

Explorer Archetype Use Case

They often pick up the wandering habits of their audience to discover new places, people, and the world.

The Explorer brands are usually priced above average — these are usually moderately to high-priced products.

The Explorer archetype might be a good option for those businesses that have the inner urge to push themselves out of the comfort and adaptability of everyday life.

In summary, the Explorer brand archetype is for high-risk takers who want to experience everything.

Culture is oriented towards finding themselves through their own adventures.

Explorer brands want to help people express their individuality.

They can speak to their target markets with words such as liberty, choice, and action that make them feel they can conquer the world.

The Explorer brand does well in industries that involve automotive, outdoor equipment, and adventure travel.

Promote the unknown as the land of the free, and challenge them to explore it with your brand, of course.

5. Explorer Archetype Levels / Family

Now, lastly, I wanted to let you know that there are 12 main archetypes as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, right?

The Explorer archetype’s family includes: Pioneer, Adventurer, Generalist, and Seeker.

But there are also 4 sub-archetypes for each, so the Explorer Archetype is like the representative of this family.

Explorer Archetype Levels / Family

You can also go deeper and explore other archetypes within the Explorer family.

The difference between an Explorer and others is that the top-level archetypes share more in common with other family members.

That’s why they function as a unifying thread among each family member.

It’s like you have your own personality, and you may have a lot in common with your parents.

So here are the other four Explorer Archetypes:

  1. Adventurer — brand examples: Red Bull and Clif Bar
  2. Pioneer — brand examples: NASA and Google Earth
  3. Generalist — brand examples: Sony and General Electric
  4. Seeker — brand examples: National Geographic and Boy Scouts of America

Even though I will not go deeper into explaining those sub-categories, at least you have some examples so that you can figure it out for yourself.

And if you want to learn more — I recommend these two books:

(1) The Hero and the Outlaw by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson

(2) Archetypes in Branding by Margaret Hartwell and Joshua C. Chen

Lastly, please check out my Brand Strategy Guide, where I explain how to use archetypes to develop a comprehensive brand strategy.

Explorer Archetype
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