The Sage 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

Are you looking to use the Sage archetype in your brand strategy? Here are 10 examples of Sage brands.

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

First, we will define the Sage archetype and its traits and characteristics.

Then I will give you 10 concrete examples of the Sage brand in real life and describe what they do in terms of expression.

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

I will also provide you with some of the best use case scenarios for using this Sage Archetype.

I will show you how the Sage archetype fits into the overall archetypal framework.

By the way, did you know that this archetype has levels?—Yes, that’s right.

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

So, the Sage archetype family is consists of: the Mentor, the Detective, the Shaman, and the Translator.

The Sage Archetype

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

1. Sage Archetype Definition

The Sage archetype is defined as a seeker of truth, knowledge, and wisdom.

The Sage archetype’s motto is: “the truth will set you free.”

The Sage may also be known as an expert, scholar, advisor, researcher, thinker, mentor, or teacher.

Sage Archetype Definition

In films, there is no character that personifies the Sage better than Yoda in Star Wars.

His experience definitely contributed to his intelligence and philosophical views.

A Sage person has a desire not only to understand the world, but also to share that understanding with others.

They are thought leaders and reliable information providers.

People rely on them to gain a better understanding of their surroundings.

They feel there is no limit to learning and are constantly educating themselves.

They are lifelong learners who enjoy expressing their knowledge or having philosophical conversations.

Sage brands are aimed towards people who are intelligent and place a high value on quality.

The Sage’s core desire is the discovery of the truth, and they fear ignorance and dislike misleading information.

2. Sage Archetype Examples (10)

The Sage brand aims to show the path to wisdom and celebrate learning.

What are some examples of Sage Archetype?

These brands emphasize that education is the path to wisdom, and wisdom is where the answers lie.

Sage Archetype Examples (10)

Each brand is described briefly so that you can relate and understand how to use this archetype to define your brand.

Here are some examples of using the Sage Archetype in branding:

Google (1)

First, Google is the perfect example of a Sage brand—they are the guide to their audience to find the answers that they need.

Google

Google owns a bunch of products that all have one mission: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

They have a desire not only to understand the world, but also to share that understanding with others.

TED (2)

The second example is TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

TED

They present speeches from intellectuals from all walks of life, and the organization has a fast-growing audience.

The brand’s slogan is "ideas worth spreading", which embodies the Sage archetype.

This platform gathers great innovators and thinkers, which demonstrates the mentor, teacher, and thinker roles of a Sage.

CNN (3)

Another and totally different example of a brand adopting the Sage archetype is CNN.

CNN

CNN, or Cable News Network, is a multinational news-based television company.

The Sage archetype is a natural fit for this company because it emphasizes disseminating fact-based information.

With its slogan "CNN, the most trusted name in news", they seek out the truth and share it with the world, which speaks highly of the Sage Archetype.

BBC (4)

Another example is the BBC, which also specializes in fact-based news.

BBC

They always showcase their authentic and extensive vocabulary.

They are sage brands because they are a trustworthy source of information about the current events happening in the world.  

Their slogan, "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation", is a natural Sage archetype.

The New York Times (5)

The New York Times is an American daily newspaper with a worldwide readership.

The New York Times

And with a tagline "We speak the truth and help people understand the world", this brand is dedicated to giving people up-to-date facts happening around the world.

Also, embedded in the company’s values are Sage characteristics such as independence, integrity, curiosity, and excellence.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6)

MIT is a private research university that has played a key role in the development of modern technology and science.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

They are the beacons of information and wisdom, and the brand in general is committed to generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge.

Harvard University (7)

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research and the oldest university in the United States.

Harvard University

The brand emphasizes research and development, which made them one of the leading universities in the world.

Their dedication to knowledge and analysis makes them a perfect example of the Sage brand archetype.

Mayo Clinic (8)

Mayo Clinic’s mission aligns flawlessly with the Sage archetype values:

Mayo Clinic

To inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education, and research.

Toyota Research Institute (9)

Through this research initiative, the Toyota Research Institute promises to improve vehicle safety measures.

Toyota Research Institute

They embody the characteristics of the Sage personality in their brand image.

It is now considered an innovative and knowledgeable brand.

Audi (10)

And last but not least, is Audi, which is a manufacturer of luxury vehicles.

The Audi brand presents its cars as smart people.

In addition, Audi often offers incredible features in their vehicles.

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

3. Sage Archetype Expression

Since you’ve got some examples of Sage brands, let’s sum it all up so that you know how this can be expressed in branding.

Sage brands use knowledgeable, assured, and guilding voice.

The competence, safety, and reliability characteristics provide a message of truth-seeking, expertise, investigation, and attentiveness.

Sage Archetype Expression

The colors indicated above are only a suggestion — colors should be picked based on the brand strategy and brand identity development.

Their tone of voice is always authoritative, intelligent, and decisive—and by doing so, they’re leaving their consumers feeling educated and engrossed.

These brands aim to guide customers and educate people to make better decisions (like The New York Times).

Images containing research-based facts and informative graphics are commonly used as well (like CNN or BBC, for example).

And so, common image subjects include things like books and graphs.

Therefore, the culture within the Sage brand is solely focused on research-based facts.

There may be a lot of innovation and change, but there is definitely a strong emphasis on getting things right over and over again with little room for error.

4. Sage Archetype Use Case

The Sage archetype in general provides a good identity for brands which promote learning and promise new knowledge.

Sage archetype is best for consultancies, education, research, news, and books.

These brands often have functions associated with either sophisticated language or extensive vocabulary that are infinitely hard to learn.‘

Sage Archetype Use Case

Quality, dependability, safety, authority, and tranquility are all qualities of this archetype.

The Sage brands are usually priced above average; these are usually moderately to high-priced products.

The Sage archetype might be a good option for those businesses who are looking to have a primitive approach to things and are unsophisticated in their ways.

In summary, the Sage brand archetype is perfectionist and cannot tolerate any form of mistake.

Culture is oriented towards information and analysis, and these brands don’t want to be the source of misinformation or misleading claims.

They have high levels of consciousness and intelligence — some would say even to the point of naivety.

The Sage brand would do well in industries that involve research and development, institutions of higher education, research firms, news sources, and bookstores.

5. Sage Archetype Levels / Family

Finally, the 12 main archetypes mentioned before have 4 sub-archetypes each, and the Sage Archetype represents this family.

The Sage archetype’s family includes: Detective, Mentor, Shaman, and Translator.

You can also go deeper and explore other archetypes within the Sage family to give you more specialization and more options for differentiation.

Sage Archetype Levels / Family

The difference is that the top-level archetypes share more in common with other family members—they function as a unifying thread among each family member.

So, you know, it’s like you have your own personality, and you may have a lot in common with your parents, right?

So here are the other four Sage Archetypes:

  1. Mentor — brand examples:  Udemy and Mint.com
  2. Detective — brand examples:  Sherlock Holmes and Da Vinci Code
  3. Shaman — brand examples:  The Dalai Lama and Moses
  4. Translator — brand examples: McKinsey & Company and Common Craft

Now, each of these sub-archetypes is a topic for a whole new article, but 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 explained how to use archetypes to develop a comprehensive brand strategy.

Sage Archetype
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