The Hero 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

For those who are interested in using the Hero archetype to their brand strategy, this 10 examples of Hero brands is for you.

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

We are going to talk about the Hero archetype and its traits and characteristics.

Then I will give you three concrete examples of the Hero 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 some of the best use-case scenarios for using the Hero Archetype.

The Hero Archetype

Additionally, I will show you how the Hero archetype fits into the overall archetypal framework.

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 Hero archetype family is consists of: the Warrior, the Athlete, the Rescuer, and the Liberator.

The Hero Archetype

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

1. Hero Archetype Definition

The Hero wants to make the world a better place, so when everything seems lost, the Hero rides over the hill and saves the day.

The Hero archetype's motto is: “Where there's a will, there's a way”.

In film, there is no character that personifies the Hero better than Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

Hero Archetype Definition

He was a high-ranking general in command of multiple Roman armies and won a lot of battles.

In every story, the Hero triumphs over evil, adversity, or a major challenge, and in doing so, inspires a lot of people.

Because they are strong, brave, audacious, and disciplined, they often become advocates for people who are less powerful.

When things get tough, their desire to dig in and work inspires everyone around them.

The Hero dislikes being weak, vulnerable, and cowardly because it does not allow them to demonstrate their skills.

They sometimes overcompensate for their flaws by becoming authoritarian or seeking out a battle.

But, at their core, heroes will demonstrate their worth through brave acts and mastery that can benefit the world.

Hero brands are all about making themselves stand out by coming up with bold, clear solutions to problems that people have.

They are built on the "wow" factor generated by both their marketing efforts and their product or service.

2. Hero Archetype Examples (10)

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

What are some examples of the Hero archetype?

These brands that I will mention are the best examples that you can use if you want to use the Hero archetype in your brand strategy.

Hero Archetype Examples

Nike (1)

Nike is the perfect example of a Hero brand.

Their iconic motto, "Just Do It", embodies the Hero archetype so well.

They stand out when it comes to adopting a persona and committing to it.

The company regularly generates bold and distinctive products, and it maintains an inspiring brand voice that encourages its customers to be fearless and daring.

Adidas (2)

The second example is Adidas, which is the second-largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, after Nike.

According to Adidas, their brand positioning is the tip of their spear, seen on new products as well as with the world's finest athletes, teams, and events.

Every product that Adidas develops helps a lot of people to play harder, smarter, or for longer periods of time.

They simply put the Hero archetype’s techniques into action.

FedEx (3)

FedEx is another, totally different example of a brand adopting the Hero archetype.

They are multinational companies focused on transportation, e-commerce, and services.

The Hero archetype is a natural fit for this company because they recognize the bravery of their true "heroes"—their delivery people.

With its slogan, "The world on time", they position themselves as a brand whose strength consists in fearlessly moving.

Overcoming hurdles and barriers that try to hinder them from carrying out their responsibilities.

BMW (4)

Another example is BMW, which manufactures luxury vehicles and motorcycles.

When you look at a BMW, you can tell it was designed with care, built to strict standards and manufactured using high-quality materials.

Evident in their brand messaging, they constantly challenge themselves and their customers to do, be, and seem their best.

They are never afraid to go head to-head with their main rival, Mercedes.

Duracell (5)

Duracell is the world’s most popular alkaline battery brand.

And with a tagline "No other battery looks like it. "No other battery lasts like it".

This brand was the first to market batteries using the Hero archetype.

You can take a look at their messaging to discover how you might position yourself as a Hero brand.

Red Cross (6)

The Red Cross is a higher-level example of the Rescuer sub-archetype.

They offer disaster assistance and emergency response to individuals in need.

Their 2015 year-in-review film combines an encouraging audio track with moving photos of those affected by a calamity as well as those assisting them.

Marvel (7)

Marvel Comics is a media and entertainment firm that is recognized as one of the "big two" publishers in the comic book industry.

Any number of Marvel Comics characters can play the Hero role — it may be fictitious, but many people were inspired.

The brand emphasizes being the symbol of courage.

This ensures that they stayed true to their brand personality and created a presence that people grew to love.

Accenture (8)

Accenture is an international professional services firm focused on information technology services and consulting.

With the tagline “Let there be change”, they have launched a broad marketing campaign and a new company purpose aimed at embracing change.

Air Jordan (9)

Air Jordan’s success stems from the fact that it provides a level of exclusivity that is unrivaled by other footwear of its sort.

Initially focused on basketball shoes, the company has now expanded its goods to include a wide range of ready-to-wear and leisure apparel.

This brand has grown rapidly into such a great success that it has eclipsed the star it was inspired by.

Gatorade (10)

And last but not least, is Gatorade, which is a brand of sports-themed beverages and food products.

Their tagline is "When you give everything, Gatorade gives it back".

The Gatorade brand is the embodiment of the Hero archetype.

They encourage their audience to become stronger and better so they can perform at their best.

3. Hero Archetype Expression

Now that you’ve got some examples of Hero brands, let me summarize how the Hero archetype might be expressed in branding.

Hero brands use honest, candid, and brave tones of voice.

Hero brands will usually market themselves with courage, strength, and a high quality product.

Hero Archetype Expression

They recommend cultivating mastery and competence as another means of communication.

The message is often about using your guts and competence to make a significant difference in the world.

Their tone of voice is always about proving yourself and making people feel like they're in a race.

By doing so, they’re leaving their consumers feeling confident and strong.

These brands aim to solve problems and inspire people to have big ambitions and work harder (like The New York Times).

Images containing warriors or inspirational messages are commonly used as well (like CNN or BBC, for example).

Common image subjects include things like superheroes, lions, or symbolic figures.

Therefore, the culture within a Hero brand is focused on helping their customers be a better version of themselves.

Heroes want to live up to their dreams and recognize that it will push them to take on new challenges.

They are motivated by the possibility of success and the gratification that comes with it.

4. Hero Archetype Use Case

In general, the Hero archetype provides a good identity for brands that are brave and unafraid to face any challenges that may come their way.

Hero archetype is best for sportswear, outdoor activities, and equipment.

These brands might be associated with qualities like durability, strength, fearlessness, and discipline.

Hero Archetype Use Case

They may be in charge of coming up with a new product or service that has a big impact on the world.

The Hero brands are usually reasonably priced; these are products ranging from low to high in price.

The Hero archetype might be a good option for those businesses that challenge people to get stronger and perform at their best.

In summary, the Hero brand archetype is powerful, bold, and trustworthy.

They don't want to appear arrogant and vulnerable, so they fight for what is right and regard themselves as honorable citizens and bully's adversaries.

The Hero brand would do well in industries that involve sportswear, outdoor activities, and equipment.

5. Hero Archetype Levels / Family

Now, I wanted to let you know that there are 12 main archetypes, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

The Hero archetype family includes: Warrior, Athlete, Rescuer, and Liberator.

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

Hero Archetype Levels / Family

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

The difference between the Hero and other archetypes 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 Hero Archetypes:

  1. Warrior — brand examples: Nike and Snickers
  2. Athlete — brand examples: Air Jordan and Adidas
  3. Rescuer— brand examples: BMW and Red Cross
  4. Liberator — brand examples: PayPal and Accenture

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.

Hero Archetype
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