Ambition, power, and persistence are all words that arise when discussing the hero archetype. The hero values honor over everything and will do anything to avoid losing. Compared to other archetypes, the hero can be perceived as inspirational and represents making change through sacrifice — no matter how great that sacrifice may be. As a person, the hero archetype would don a professional uniform to set themselves apart from the crowd. They are the one always volunteering themselves for the job that no one wants to take, and usually have a goal they’re working towards — and will want to tell you how you can achieve these goals as well. Rather than avoiding tough challenges, the hero seeks them out with determination to leave a mark for themselves. At its core, the hero possesses a great need to overcome.
PROMISE: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
CORE DESIRE: To prove worth through difficult action
GOAL: To exert mastery in a way that improves the world
FEAR: Weakness, letting people down or quitting
STRATEGY: Become as competent as possible
The Hero Archetype at a Glance
The hero archetype often presents itself in the form of a leader and can usually be seen manifested in athletes, political figures, and branches of the military. It is frequently represented in companies that possess strong social obligations at their core and exist to help people and provide guidance on how to develop strength and discipline.
You’ll see athletes take on the hero archetype, as many have overcome great adversity and have devoted their entire lives to rising up through the ranks to become masters in their fields. Notable athletic figures such as Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan are seen as heros for their dedication and achievement within their respective sports as well as for their philanthropic contributions.
Organizations like the American Red Cross and AmeriCorps demonstrate the hero archetype through their sole efforts to help people and serve communities in need. These are nonprofit organizations that exist only to achieve the goal of bettering other people’s lives.
The Hero Archetype in Business
The marketing of a hero brand will often include bold phrases and images to convey powerful messaging. This brand wants to challenge you, to inspire you to pursue achievement, no matter what it takes. Images incorporating strong colors and bold shapes are frequently used in the hero’s marketing efforts. You might see video footage or photos of heroes in action with an end message that dares the viewer to seek the same level of achievement. You can see this demonstrated in Nike’s infamous phrase “Just Do It.”
Culture within a hero brand is usually achievement-focused. Employees are encouraged to outperform their competitors — to be the best. While this can foster an incredibly productive work environment, it also lends itself to potential over-competitiveness and can lead to employee burnout.
Levels of the Hero Archetype
Each of the 12 different archetypes can be expressed in scaled rankings of intensity represented by three levels. Level one is less mature where level 3 is the most fully-developed.
Level 1: The hero archetype is expressed through seeking out challenges and demonstrating great achievement.
Level 2: The hero is a savior to others and represents a strong sense of duty.
Level 3: The hero is a humanitarian — making great sacrifices for the greater good.
Examples of Hero Brands
Nike stands to empower the consumer to rise to the occasion. Their marketing campaigns depict people putting in the work, making sacrifices, and beating the odds. They challenge their community to push harder than they think possible in order to achieve by promoting phrases like “never stop winning” and “dream further.”
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross embodies the hero archetype in an undeniable way. In their marketing efforts, they don’t just say that they’re here to help people, they state that they are changing the world. They want you to know exactly how many disasters they’ve responded to, how many blood donations they have received, and how many lives they have helped save. They exist to make great change within communities.
AmeriCorps calls to the public to sacrifice your time and bring your skills to help those in need. They call on people to become heroes alongside the organization and emphasize how many volunteers they have working towards their efforts, often depicting their teams in action. AmeriCorps is dedicated to service and encourages you to join their efforts through inspirational content.
You’ll be hard-pressed to drive anywhere without spotting a FedEx delivery truck. As a leader in the logistics industry, FedEx promotes itself as the company that will do “whatever it takes” to get your delivery to you. Their marketing efforts depict company employees humorously sacrificing their time and safety for the cause. Recently, they are expressing their hero archetype by covering how they are helping small businesses during COVID-19.
Where Does Your Brand Fit In?
If you’re thinking your company might not be a Hero brand, check out the remaining 11 archetypes to see where you fit in! You may be surprised to see what archetype your brand resonates with.