Branding 101: What’s Your Archetype?

Now that we know what  brand voice is and how to keep it consistent on social media, you might be asking ok, how do I develop the voice for my client? One way would be to decide which archetype the brand fits in.

I guess we should go over what the hell archetypes are.

Got it? No? Ok, let’s  break it down.

In advertising, an archetype is a dominant trait that recurs in a brand. Why is this important? It helps further develop the tone, personality and consistency within a brand. Let’s take a look at a couple popular brands:


Apple has a strong reputation as an innovator. Even when they ~reinvent~ the pencil, people get behind it because they remind their audience to “Think Different.” They dare their audience to step outside of ordinary and create their own worlds — with Apple products of course. Their archetype is the rebel, or outlaw, of tech.

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So when Apple stepped out of the rebel archetype and jumped feet first into a hero role that saves you from your tech issues, audiences didn’t respond well.

It’s not that the above was a bad ad, it didn’t challenge their audience to “Think Different.” In fact it implied you don’t have to think at all,  Apple genius’ will do it all for you.


Aside from a few missteps, McDonald’s has an unwavering archetype. They whole experience of McDonald’s is so calculated that if you travel to a McDonald’s abroad, you will relatively have the same feeling and food as your home Mickey D’s.


The feeling of nostalgia and goodness that McDonald’s created is classified as an innocent archetype. They’ve positioned their brand to hold the mindset that  perfection can be achieved through simplicity; with an emphasis on traditions and values of yesteryear. The naïvety can be seen as endearing and childlike, which also gives McDonald’s the image of a young and fun place to eat for the low-low.

Discovering the archetype of the brand helps greatly with consistency. It let’s you, and ultimately the consumer, understand and connect with the brand.

Bonus of  knowing the archetype of a brand: it makes coming up with creative easier. Archetypes  puts you in the mindset of the brand, giving insights into the values and personality. You can have cool and wacky ads,  as long as it always stays true to the who the brand is.

If you’re not at the point where you’re creating ads for clients, a good exercise is to analyze ads and figuring out the archetype. Identifying the archetype will help deconstruct the ad and give you some insight on why the creatives chose a specific color scheme or phrased something in a particular way.

Share what you find in the comments.

Chicago Ideas Week is Almost Here!

It’s officially one month until Chicago Ideas Week kick-off. It’s a week long event  of talks and workshops that are meant to spark creativity and facilitate thought provoking conversations.

Tickets are on sale now, so if you’re in the Chicago area register for a couple events (there are a ton of free events, because I know you like free stuff) and get inspired.

Check out the schedule here.

Apply for MAFA Chicago Brand University and Find Your Voice

UPDATE: Deadlines have been extended to September 18th!

We’ve been covering brand voice for big brands. Now, here’s your chance to find your unique tone for your personal brand.  MAFA Chicago is hosting a full day event giving you the ins and outs of personal branding.


Applications are due September 15th.

If you’re not in the Chicago area, and still interested in personal branding; check out LinkedIn’s Picture Opportunity Tour. They’re offering free professional head shots and tips to make your profile truly yours.

The Importance of Brand Voice from the Original Mad Man

“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.”

– David Ogilvy