15 Days of Secrets Signs & Symbols of Success. 8 Archetype I: House, the ‘RELIABLE’ Brand

The reliably down-home experience of the House Brand has perennial appeal. Even without the ‘more-for-less’ experience you get, there’s an easy-going, homey quality to house brands that acts like a lowest common denominator in our society, allowing us to all have something we can agree about.

House Brand At-A-Glance Notes
Theme song: U Can’t Touch This, MC Hammer

  • The House Brand is a female archetype.
  • Fundamental dweller within the archetype: Eldest daughter, the professional, in today’s terms ‘the working woman’ ie. everyman
  • Archetypal character: the Whore, in today’s terms the “working woman” has become everywoman.
  • Popular. Global examples: McDonald’s, any do-it-yourself activity.
  • Primary analysis: The House Brand presents anything everyday for sale at a predictable price. The value proposition of the House Brand is ‘more for less’ i.e. you’ll get more ‘stuff’ for less ‘loose change’.
  • Color palettes: Red and Yellow/Gold.
  • Popular American example: McDonald’s (Red & Yellow).

Literally, the entry point of all branding, the House Brand is one of the most vital of all brand types in the marketplace. Without the House Brand there would be no yardstick to measure against, for House Brands are the ‘all-brands’ of branding. All the things that we think of as brands—consistent, reliable, easy and accessible—these are exactly what House Brands are about.

Yellow Taxis, above, of New York City are emblematic of House Brands and House Branding.

House brands are the workhorses of the brand economy. They rely on volume sales and mass appeal to create their special place in the market. It is anathema to a House Brand to appeal to specialized tastes or narrow needs, for the House Brand seeks out the requirements of the common man or woman and woos with the irresistible value and comfort of a home-cooked meal. Not for the House Brand are out-size budgets or gourmet tastes. House Brands don’t cater to eccentric needs or out-of-control egos. No, the House Brand appeals to the practical, the down-to-earth, the easy-going, the comfortable and the frugal.

The house brand introduces a standard, or staple of branding: secret sauce, the je ne sais quois* element. *French: literally “I do not know what”.

In McDonald’s terms, this is the Big Mac’s “special sauce”.

The Big Mac is branding’s holy grail, ordinary grub dressed up through language of standards and repetition to represent an experience so predictable to a price-point that it is all but in-excludable. You have to experience a Big Mac. You must know what it is like. The special sauce beckons.

Some of the most profitable (and promiscuous) brands are House Brands. Creating sauce, er, success through the House Brand formula is not easy, for to be successful it must develop and master a delivery platform superior in efficiency to all competitors. Once successful, however, a well-positioned House Brand is very difficult to overturn, and it therefore grows and grows. Billions may be served.

House Brands are one of the most common, popular and interesting of all brand archetypes. Literally the foundation of branding, a House Brand is the first step beyond a purely generic or commodity product. Most people will be familiar with the concept of store brands, such as Safeway soup, or Rexall shampoo. These are House Brands. Retailers themselves can be house brands. Examples include McDonald’s, Denny’s and some supermarket store brands.

What is the purpose of a house brand? A house brand is there to provide inexpensively priced ‘branded’ experiences, that is to say consistent emotional quality and product deliverables at a lower price point than ‘nationally advertised’ brands. Never mind that our house brands are themselves nationally advertised! When you see price point packaging and everyday offers that are below mid-range alternatives you are likely experiencing a House Brand.

House Brands offer an acceptable alternative to higher priced forms of delivery for the masses. Most of us have purchased House Brand alternatives at one time or another—whether it is dishwashing detergent, paper towels or a hamburger, for convenience and economy’s sake, the House Brand frequently excels at introducing individuals to the brand economy.

As the most common archetype (who lives in a Palace nowadays?), the House Brand is instantly accessible to the widest number of consumers for everyday purchases. And, sometimes, the quality may be acceptable for on-going use. Some recent taste tastes have confirmed that McDonald’s 88c coffee is as good as Starbucks (considerably more expensive cups!). Maybe this is because McDonald’s is purportedly using Starbucks beans. Or maybe, McDonald’s is simply committed to delivery on its unstated, House Brand promise.’


The dynamic architecture that is architectonics first helped detect all seven of the fundamental brand types, described in The Matriarchy of Brands.

The Matriarchy of Brands

Here, in a natural order for learning, are the seven members of the Matriarchy of Brands with their primary descriptive elements.

  1. The Reliable House Brand
  2. The Popular Tower Brand
  3. The Connection Bridge Brand
  4. The Choice Hotel Brand
  5. The Safe Castle Brand
  6. The Forever Palace Brand
  7. The Together Theater Brand

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The second edition of my Branding Manual, Signs & Symbols of Success, is now available! The ideal classroom compendium and lecture starting point reveals the startling matrix behind brands that work. This book levels the playing field by spelling out for the first time the previously unwritten, unbiased code of conduct for all successful global brands. Order YOUR Copy of this Indispensable Reference, including The Matriarchy of Brands, today!

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