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What’s all this “Brand Voice” nonsense? 🤪

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

You might have come across the concept of a Brand Voice, which (loosely) describes what your organisation “sounds” like when people read, listen to, or watch something you’ve published.

Meaning do you sound corporate, fun, droney, pushy, inspiring, techy, earthy, and so on.

If this is a super abstract concept to you, a shortcut to understanding it is looking at the Brand Archetypes framework, and seeing where some well-known brands fit in to them.

What’s a Brand Archetype?

For a simple brain like mine, a Brand Archetype is like assigning a personality to a company. It’s a pretty clever system coined sometime in the 50s by a dude called Carl Jung (a mate of Sigmund Freud’s).

There are 12 Archetypes - you pick the one that most aligns with your organisation, and use the guidelines within it as a way of writing your tone of voice, which helps draw people to your org.

The idea behind the archetypes is that they're intended to tap into the basic, primitive desires of your audience.

Each archetype has a single human desire that underpins it.

The 12 Archetypes (desire in brackets):

  • The Innocent » (Safety)
  • The Everyman » (Belonging)
  • The Hero » (Mastery)
  • The Rebel » (Liberation)
  • The Explorer » (Freedom)
  • The Creator » (Innovation)
  • The Ruler » (Control)
  • The Magician » (Power)
  • The Lover » (Intimacy)
  • The Caregiver » (Service)
  • The Jester » (Enjoyment)
  • The Sage » (Understanding)

Just looking at that list, you might think of some well-known companies or public figures that fit very neatly under certain archetypes.

If it’s all still a bit abstract, here a few examples to get your wheels turning:

Harley-Davidson = The Rebel

With “Liberation” as it’s underlying desire, even if you’re not a Harley fan you can likely see how that connects to the brand, and then to their fan base. When Harley publishes, it’s gritty, rebellious and very not status quo.

LEGO = The Creator

Not much of a stretch there. The Creator’s desire is “Innovation” - self-expression, imagination, that sort of thing. People who love LEGO don’t want the same old thing. Fun might also be a factor for The Creator, but it doesn’t have to be. Software companies (eg: Canva or Zoom) often fall under this archetype too.

Over the next few days, we’ll explore each of the archetypes using more examples of known and less-known organisations, and look at how you can start applying them within your own organisation.

Going down the list, a handful might already be jumping out at you. The orgs who do the hard work of picking and sticking with one primary archetype can often create real magic, which we'll explore too.

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