As we prepare to say goodbye to one of the hit tv shows, I decided to do an analysis similar to the one I did with The Handmaid’s Tale.
Whether you’re a hardcore fan or just don’t give a damn about Game of Thrones, you probably know the main characters.
Why do they act like that? Because each one of them is a perfect representation of their house, embodying its meanings, mottos, and personalities.
We can establish a parallel between the show house’s and competing brands, with different approaches towards the market (the throne).
Of course that by being a brand, each one of them has a unique identity with different elements. There are personality traits, symbols, colors and a motto – a tagline of sorts – to each house.
Let’s examine these elements and see how their combinations make up each one of the houses (or brands).
Beware that you might read spoilers so consider yourself warned.
The Starks’ brand
Personality wise, the Starks are what we call a Hero brand. It’s also probably one of the reasons everyone seems to like them.
They follow a code of honor, are constantly seeking justice, and have a clear opponent (the Night King).
Both their coat of arms and their motto are a clear representation of their hero personality.
The grey armored direwolf on a white field, represents their willingness to take action, to fight while being ferocious and perseverant.
Winter is coming, is a motto that reminds them to prepare for harsh periods. It also shows that they’re always in need of another battle to fight. A typical Hero weakness.
Regarding semiotic elements, they choose a large wild animal and two neutral colors: white and grey.
The direwolf lives and hunts in packs because it doesn’t do too good alone (like the characters in the show). It’s also a feared animal so its persecuted and hunted.
The color white signifies purity, goodness, and innocence. It can also be associated with snow and the cold, elements of their harsh conditions.
On the other hand, gray is a neutral and balanced color. It stands between white and black. It represents their conservative ways, and their constant loss and depression.
If they were a brand, they would fit in the Caregiver brand’s archetype.
Their motto – Family, duty, and honor – represents well their priorities in protecting and caring for others.
The Tullys are compassionate and generous, which makes them seem an easy prey (like the fact that their symbol is a fish). It’s also a common weakness from the Caregiver; to be exploited.
Their coat of arms is a trout on a red and blue background with two silver wave lines.
The fish is leaping out of the water, a representation of how the characters feel when they are sent away due to arranged marriages.
Red and blue represent bloodline, love, loyalty, truth, honor, water and emotion.
Although both colors occupy equal space, the trout sits on top of the red color, which tells us once more, that family and love comes first.
As for the silver waved lines, they represent Tullys’ ability to go with the flow (we see it with Catelyn constantly adapting to new situations).
When we first see the Baratheons, we see them as being a royal family due to Robert Baratheon.
This house’s personality fits in perfectly with the one of the Ruler.
They show a core desire for total power, the control over the throne and blind stubbornness.
The motto – Our is the fury – shows the rage in their nature, the use of great violence and the authoritarian posture.
Unlike what happens with the other houses, this would be considered a brand family that branches out to three sub-brands; Robert’s, Stannis’ and Renly’s.
The differences between the 3 brands
The first one uses a coat of arms with a black crowned stag on a gold field. It represents everything that he is and has accomplished.
His family’s dark hair, hidden secrets (his many bastards), the blackness of his soul, and also his headstrong nature. All of these are represented by the black stag.
Contrastingly, he uses the gold color to remind everyone that he’s a powerful, royal and greedy person. A manly man that knows how to lead others into battle, and therefore, should be feared, and respected.
Like his brother, Stannis also uses the black stag but chooses to put it inside a red flaming heart. This expresses his blind belief in the Lord of Light (one of the most well-known religions from the show).
The third and youngest of the brothers, Renly, changes his coat of arms. He combines his house’s crest with the Tyrell’s when he married Margaery (and has a symbol of the affair he has with his brother in law).
So his emblem is no longer a black stag, but a golden one on a green field. It’s a more feminine and optimist representation of the Baratheon’s coat of arms, but portrays his search for power, and his greedy and envy against his older brothers.
The stag, the symbol of all three factions, signifies their need to be seen as a king but also their temperamental attitude. Just like the stags clash with each other during mate season, so do the Baratheon brothers fight among themselves for a chance to put their butts on the iron throne.
As well as this animal is the king of the forest, he is also the most hunted (and you know what that means for the Baratheons in the series too).
Tyrells represent a Love archetype on the show.
They are loved by the common people. They spend time and try to please others as much as possible (like Margaery does with the commoners in King’s Landing).
The crest, a golden rose on top of a green field, leads to associations such as beauty, femininity and an attractive, defenseless appearance.
Their motto – Growing strong – means that they’re constantly thriving in territory and population because they take advantage of their fruitful land.
Their greatest fear is to be alone and unwanted, so they put up this facade of being a generous, delicate flower while in reality, they’re ruthless.
The green color represents their relationship with nature, their growth, wealth and prosperity but it also their greed, and envy (Margaery learned from her grandmother how to manipulate all of her husbands to meet her desires).
The golden rose signifies richness, and willingness to rule.
Despite being a delicate and beautiful flower and not a ferocious animal, roses also have visible thorns and if you aren’t careful, they will make you bleed (aka Olenna is called the queen of thorns, and she’s the most badass lady on the show).
Ah, the Lannisters.
They are that brand that you hate to love, but you do it anyway.
Just like the Baratheons, if they were a brand with a personality, they would be Rulers.
Also, like them, Lannisters like to appear royal, powerful and ferocious. They want to exercise power even though they never actually ruled Westeros. To them, power is the only thing they crave for.
Even though they make good leaders they do it for the wrong reasons which make them seem authoritarian and selfish.
The Lannisters coat of arms is a golden lion on a crimson background. Both the royal colors and the animal symbolize their false superior appearance as well as their wealth and fake social status.
Their motto – Hear me roar – is never used on the show, but it’s still a testament to their pride and ego.
The Targaryens’ brand
Targaryens are Magicians. They make dreams come true and live by their beliefs ( they ride dragons, so they pretty much win with the wow factor).
They have transformed the lives of others and plan to do it once more (Dany wants to break the wheel).
Their coat of arms is a three-headed red dragon on a black field. The usage of these two very contrasting and punching colors represents this house entirely.
Strength, passion, determination, danger, mystery, and death are all
traits connected with this family.
Their Fire and blood motto is also a constant reminder that they are both pure (by maintaining their incestuous bloodline) and dangerous since they can use fire to their own advantage (and lose their temper easily too).
The 3 headed dragon is an homage to the three most important Targaryens in Westeros, but it can also represent the Holy Trinity: mind, body, and spirit. The ultimate affirmation of power in one single being.
Greyjoys represent a brand of Outlaws.
They live on islands, isolated from the rest of the houses.
We do not sow is the motto that reminds everybody about their stubbornness and their nonconformity to other’s rules.
Greyjoy shock with their pirate-like manners and their use of violence, pillaging, and brutal intimidation.
This family coat of arms is a gold kraken on a black field.
The kraken is an enormous mythical creature, that is the biggest threat in the sea (pretty much like the Greyjoys).
Black represents their embrace of the unknown, and their unfriendly manners. Gold, on the other hand, is a symbol of the money they stole, as well as their thirst for power.
Martells are the funniest house of the Seven Kingdoms.
They like to live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest. That’s why they embrace promiscuity, sexual freedom, and welcome bastards as real family members (unlike the other families who are publicly ashamed of them).
This house differentiates itself from the others and both their crest and their motto are proof of that.
Unbowed, unbent, unbroken are the words that they live by.
They never aligned themselves with any faction, they joined because of love (by marriage) and they remain independent and self-governing.
Their crest reflects their contrasting attitude – it’s a red sun pierced by a golden spear on an orange background.
It’s not an animal or a plant; it’s the combination of the most important symbol in nature with a warrior’s weapon.
The red sun signifies Nymeria’s power and energy, while the gold spear expresses Martell’s wisdom and courage.
Because they adopted Nymeria symbol, it makes sense that they are the only house that formally supports feminine strength.
Lastly, the background remind us the sand and the hot and arid climate, but also their encouragement, success, and attraction.
As you can see, Design is everywhere even in tv shows such as GOT.
If you want to read more about establishing a brand’s personality, you should read this other post.
What is your favorite house/brand and why? Let me know in the comments below.