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. archetype_definition

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.