15 Days of Secrets Signs & Symbols of Success. 13 Archetype VI: Palace, The ‘FOREVER’ Brand

While associated with things that have been around ‘forever’, frequently it is the other way around. Cultural symbols like Santa Claus, and the Spirit of Ecstasy are cultural icons created by resonant Palace Brands that have unequivocally eclipsed their origins, winning the game resonantly for such brands. These two brands demonstrate the power of effective brand strategies.

Palace Brand At-A-Glance Notes
Theme song: I’d Like To Teach The World to Sing

  • Primary analysis: The Palace Brand trades on a promise of timelessness. Fundamentally Palace Brands promise eternity or immortality.
  • The Palace Brand is a feminine archetype.
  • Color palettes: Red (and White—may also include silver or other faint accents) OR Black (and White).
  • Color analysis: The Red refers to the feminine type—specifically to the blood of birth, while the White refers to the possibility surrounding it.
  • Fundamental dweller within the archetype: Mother (the queen or empress)
  • Popular Global examples: Apple, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, CHANEL, Fiat, Rolls-Royce and Toyota.

The Palace Brand is a powerful type that can work for timeless name brands at all price levels. The key is that while, like all brands, Palace Brands must at some level innovate, while at another level they must never change. The loyalty that customers have to Palace Brands is at the level of ‘motherhood and apple pie’ meaning that change is really very aggravating to their sensibilities and any change may be cause for revolt.

Palace Brands include some of the most popular brands in the world, as well as some of the most lofty and desired brands. Palace Brands maintain an aura of mystique combined with a material familiarity that is redolent of both home and hearth while also having a hint of something just beyond definition, or explanation. Most successful Palace Brands capitalize on initial excellent positioning and build long-term success by gradually building up an inventory of brand collateral cues that stimulate an invincible armory of emotionally redolent memories with their customers over time.

The ultimate promise of immortality behind the Palace Brand, is so obviously undeliverable, that ironically the Palace promise is one of the most believed and iron-clad of brand types. Palace Brands trade on product integrity and reputation more than any other brand type. When they break this promise, all havoc breaks loose, but again, they are so strong they normally adjust, make amends and pick up where they left off. Their customers always return once they return to their original promise.

Palace brands, like CHANEL require little, if any change to substance along the way. Most of all, they need confident creative people who understand the rules and then are willing to ‘feel’ the best way to implement them along the way, while breaking few, if any rules. Real Palace brands, like CHANEL, Coca-Cola, Apple and Aveda broke the rules early.

Coco Chanel rewrote the rules of fashion for women, by cutting clothes shaped originally for men, for the female figure. She developed a way to cut fabric on the bias that create a simple jersey dress that fit like no other. And she created the fashion for big, chunky costumed jewelry that pervades to this day. What else does a fashion house that has innovated so many ways need in the way of gimmicks, risks and change? The answer, clearly, is nothing!

The Palace Brand is about timelessness. Coca-Cola knows this, now. So does Apple. So do Aveda and CHANEL. Interestingly, all of these companies are continuously introducing new products and campaigns, but the gestalt of all successful Palace Brands is remarkably implacable. No matter the latest fashion, trend or technology these giants of branding continue to succeed with remarkably simple esthetics, design and simple, timeless innovations that perennially reach a wide, receptive audience.

In a world that is constantly changing we need Palace Brands to remind us that it’s not all about the latest trend. Even Apple, as the technology representative among this tribe, has remained remarkable unchanged (relative to other technology giants, like Microsoft or IBM) in philosophy, design and interface. Obviously, fashion companies and technology giants make their money through change, so how is they can simultaneously remain the same? This is what creates the epicenter of a Palace Brand—the unchangeable, central elements which may be tweaked and tuned, but never really altered. Notice too, that logos and graphic representation for all of these brands have been static for years. After all, perennial good taste never goes out of style. And for the cognoscenti (that’s Palace Brand talk for fans) good taste is where it’s at!

Determine the core design, visual and thematic elements. Innovate the heck out of them, then leave ‘em alone. Make, thoughtful changes only.

Emphasize design in marketing and advertising. Style is something that comes and go, but good quality design always looks good. Emphasize material quality and finish in manufactured goods. Apple’s computers are ‘milled from a solid piece of aluminum’, CHANEL’s skirts are invisibly weighted at the back with a small chain on the inside to ensure the garment keeps its lines as you walk down the street. Coca-Cola early on insisted on a unique and timeless anthropomorphic bottle design. And so it goes…

The Palace Brand archetype is inhabited by the eternal Mother. What are her qualities? Mother always cares, always loves, is always there, no matter what. No wonder that Palace brands answer the unstated question “When?” with the unstated answer “Forever”. It’s ‘always Coca-Cola’.

The Palace metaphor presents a timeless backdrop to brands, brand experiences, and user experiences. The fundamental domain of the Palace archetype is Time. Query the Palace (brand, UX, or design) and the default question is always the categorical ‘When’? The only answer the Palace will give in response to this question is ‘Forever’, or ‘Always’. In other words, the Palace archetype, exhibited by brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola and CHANEL (yes, the Coco Chanel’s CHANEL) is the archetype of the eternal mother.

Since the unspoken promise returned by this archetype is both strong and unequivocal, it gives a pretty good sense of what should be coming. And, for the most part, at least in packaging/box design, Apple succeeds brilliantly. Apple hardware products are very timeless in appearance; do not really subscribe to fads, thus retaining an elegant, understated quality.

Unfortunately, in terms of the UX experience, especially in newer products like Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, timeless is not what is experienced. Minimal? Yes. Forever? No. As a matter of fact, the experience of the entire user interface is one of continuous adaptive discovery. This represents a design archetype (of the Adventurer) that might be a great place to start for a game designer, but it does not make sense for Apple. Apple’s UX experience should be solid, constant, clear, and consistent. Underlying architectural elements of the Palace ought to preemptively prevent any other type of design from emerging. Time will tell.


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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