The Outlaw Archetype

Avatar Jan Gevers

By Jan Gevers

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Brand archetypes humanize your brand by giving it a well-defined multidimensional personality your audience can relate to. They distinguish you from the competition and speak in a clear voice that cuts through the clutter.

Not sure yet which archetype corresponds to your brand?

We break the mold.

The Outlaw brands promise liberation.

Essence: Disruption. Rebellion. Guts.

  • Does your brand disrupt to cut through the noise and make their voice heard?

  • Is your brand unafraid to employ controversial tactics (even bordering on offensive) to challenge the status quo?

  • Is your brand regarded as revolutionary or insurgent?

  • Does your brand specialize in radical, unconventional ideas, services or products?

  • Does your brand have a cult-like following?

  • Does your brand stand out from other mainstream brands?

  • Is your brand passionate about changing the world, regardless of what it takes?

If you have responded yes to many of the questions above, your brand may be best represented by the Outlaw archetype.

Purpose: To overthrow what is not working to better the world.

Alter egos: The rebel - the revolutionary - the challenger - the game changer - the maverick - the activist - the reformer

Personality traits: Outrageous - rebellious - disruptive - powerful - counter-cultural - different - challenging - not materialistic - free-spirited - unconventional - outspoken - controversial - bold - fearless - insurgent

Outlaw brand example

Harley-Davidson embodies the Outlaw archetype.

The good

The Outlaw brands are revolutionaries with a purpose. They are free-spirited souls with a rebellious calling. Their goal is to achieve radical freedom and overthrow anything that isn't working or that needs to change. The Outlaw archetype attracts attention with disruptive, shocking and destructive acts. These brands resort to a plethora of controversial tactics to expose what's wrong with the world. They're unapologetic and they do not shy away from ruffling a few feathers if that's what it takes to break the mold and get their revolutionary message across. They tend to go all out and they will ensure that everyone knows about it.

The Outlaw is action-oriented, brave and adaptable and provides fresh perspectives and radical changes that inspire. The Outlaw brands position themselves as outsiders who feel it's unacceptable to be a sheep in society. Socially conscious and opposed to materialism, they're unconventional thinkers who motivate others to reject negative societal norms.

The bad

The greatest fear of the Outlaw is to be powerless and ineffective. They dread being bought out or becoming too popular as a brand. Some Outlaw brands can be regarded as revolutionary and they risk coming off as too reckless, stubbornly shaking things up just to get a kick out of it. Conversely, they may become too angry and consumed by what they're fighting for, which can cause them to lose sight of their other priorities and which can lead to destructive behavior.

The believers

The Outlaw audience rejects dominant culture and is appreciative of controversy. Many of these customers may feel like an outsider and the resulting alienation and loss of faith in conventional choices can result in anger. As such, they're attracted to the energy of the Outlaw archetype and form an almost cult-like following.

These customers have a tendency to engage in risky behavior and they have a strong craving for freedom. Younger people who are looking to find themselves, especially those who feel alienated, might go straight to the Outlaw archetype, skipping the Explorer altogether. Surprisingly, the Outlaw audience might also consist of well-behaved, law-abiding citizens, the so-called fringe Outlaws, who just need to let off some steam every now and then.

The brands

The Outlaw archetype is the ideal match for insurgent brands who strive to make their mark in a field dominated by traditional brands. Outlaw brands play on feelings like anger or mistreatment and their marketing focuses on risk-taking. They apply imagery that may be dark or bold and revolutionary and that represents freedom from convention. Additionally, they use the concept of the outsider to appeal to their target audience, urging them to behave in a certain way.

These brands often walk a fine line as they may be perceived as offensive. In order to successfully respond to their customers, they should gauge their audience’s level of extremism and communicate accordingly. However, an element of certain shock value is frequently included, from a politically incorrect joke or a unique ad with seemingly no real selling point to actual outrageous content intended to shock.

Vans, Harley Davidson, Virgin, Diesel, Jack Sparrow are the examples of the Outlaw archetype.

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