Aesthetics communicate value and
design shapes the experience.

Archetypes – Who are you?


Start with who you are

The first minute of this Disney animation, raises the seemingly simple question…”Who…. are…. you….?” To answer to this takes honesty and a bit of soul searching. Sometimes this question arises through an unexpected situation.

As a leader of a company, more often than not it’s a gut feeling. You are looking at some piece of communication, your website, your brochure and saying to yourself “I don’t like this. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t feel right.” That’s where my client was at when they approached me with “We need a new website.”  I decided to first answer the question had to be “Exactly why was the current website so wrong?”

Looking beyond their website’s “professional” appearance, this question led me to explore their archetype. The answer revealed what goes wrong when a designer either doesn’t consider archetypes or identify the archetype incorrectly.

Archetypes are Business Critical

If you are a successful global brand – you won’t need to read any further. You will know all about archetypes because your business has to communicate to, and instantly resonate with, people from different cultures around the globe. You will know that this can only be achieved by applying psychology. However, this facility to establish trust and communicate clearly is just as important on a micro or local level.

What if you get it wrong?

In the case of my client’s website, it very quickly became clear that the reason it was so wrong was because the archetype was wrong. Their previous designer had positioned them as an Explorer when they were not. That explained why despite its “professional” appearance, it felt wrong to them. They would look at the site and feel in their gut this was not who they were. The communication was off. Incongruous. It was causing confusion, discomfort and ultimately distrust, because they were presenting themselves as something they were not. Anyone who wanted to recommend them couldn’t direct people to their website because it didn’t represent their own experience or what they wanted to convey about my client.

In a one day workshop we explored their audiences, priorities, values and defined their archetype. We had a clear path forward with a framework to build upon. (They were Sage just in case you are wondering).

Once you know who you are you can begin

When you identify with your archetype it will guide design choices, voice and tone as well as marketing, communications strategy and even business decisions, like who to partner with.

When it comes to communication the most powerful form is storytelling. Your archetype is the hero of your story.

When you identify with your archetype you tailor your messaging, you define your audience’s expectations and establish a relationship. Your audience will instinctively understand who you are and their relationship with you. They will understand what to expect from you. This is huge and it happens in a matter of milliseconds. But what it means can last much longer. Your audience will hang around to find out more about you rather than shying away from your ambiguity. This creates the opportunity you need to do business. To grow.

Archetypes for Leaders and Entrepreneurs

When you identify with your archetype it will guide design choices as
well as marketing, communications strategy and even business decisions, like who to partner with.

How to Identify Your Archetype

As the founder of your business/organization you are the key. Answer for yourself and it will be true for your business. You are the driver of your business. Your values and your priorities will be what makes your business different from its competition.

Below is the list of the twelve archetypes. I have removed their labels. Read the values and discover your archetype. Your true archetype is the one that resonates most deeply with you. The key is at the end of this page.

For me, I am the Magician – no matter how many times I complete the tests. What matters most to me, what is core to me is that I make things happen, I find win win solutions, I help make dreams come true. The way I do it is with creativity – so ARTIST/CREATOR does resonate, but my archetype is more about WHY I do what I do than HOW or WHAT.

Remember its not about ‘generally agreeing with’ – its about your core. What is fundamentally true to you. What drives you. Your WHY.


Motto: Free to be you and me
Core desire: to get to paradise
Goal: to be happy
Greatest fear: to be punished for doing something bad or wrong
Strategy: to do things right
Weakness: boring for all their naive innocence
Talent: faith and optimism
Also known as: Utopian, traditionalist, naive, mystic, saint, romantic, dreamer.


Motto: All men and women are created equal
Core Desire: connecting with others
Goal: to belong
Greatest fear: to be left out or to stand out from the crowd
Strategy: develop ordinary solid virtues, be down to earth, the common touch
Weakness: losing one’s own self in an effort to blend in or for the sake of superficial relationships
Talent: realism, empathy, lack of pretense
Also known as: The good old boy, regular guy/girl, the person next door, the realist, the working stiff, the solid citizen, the good neighbor, the silent majority.


Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Core desire: to prove one’s worth through courageous acts
Goal: exert mastery in a way that improves the world
Greatest fear: weakness, vulnerability, being a “chicken”
Strategy: to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Talent: competence and courage
Also known as: The warrior, crusader, rescuer, superhero, the soldier, dragon slayer, the winner and the team player.


Motto: Love your neighbor as yourself
Core desire: to protect and care for others
Goal: to help others
Greatest fear: selfishness and ingratitude
Strategy: doing things for others
Weakness: martyrdom and being exploited
Talent: compassion, generosity
Also known as: The saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter.


Motto: Don’t fence me in
Core desire: the freedom to find out who you are through exploring the world
Goal: to experience a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life
Biggest fear: getting trapped, conformity, and inner emptiness
Strategy: journey, seeking out and experiencing new things, escape from boredom
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Talent: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
Also known as: The seeker, wanderer, individualist, pilgrim.


Motto: Rules are made to be broken
Core desire: revenge or revolution
Goal: to overturn what isn’t working
Greatest fear: to be powerless or ineffectual
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, or shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Talent: outrageousness, radical freedom
Also known as: The outlaw, revolutionary, wild man, the misfit, or iconoclast.


Motto: You’re the only one
Core desire: intimacy and experience
Goal: being in a relationship with the people, work and surroundings they love
Greatest fear: being alone, a wallflower, unwanted, unloved
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally attractive
Weakness: outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing own identity
Talent: passion, gratitude, appreciation, and commitment
Also known as: The partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist, spouse, team-builder.


Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done
Core desire: to create things of enduring value
Goal: to realize a vision
Greatest fear: mediocre vision or execution
Strategy: develop artistic control and skill
Task: to create culture, express own vision
Weakness: perfectionism, bad solutions
Talent: creativity and imagination
Also known as: The artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer or dreamer.


Motto: You only live once
Core desire: to live in the moment with full enjoyment
Goal: to have a great time and lighten up the world
Greatest fear: being bored or boring others
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time
Talent: joy
Also known as: The fool, trickster, joker, practical joker or comedian.


Motto: The truth will set you free
Core desire: to find the truth.
Goal: to use intelligence and analysis to understand the world
Biggest fear: being duped, misled—or ignorance.
Strategy: seeking out information and knowledge; self-reflection and understanding thought processes.
Weakness: can study details forever and never act.
Talent: wisdom, intelligence.
Also known as: The expert, scholar, detective, advisor, thinker, philosopher, academic, researcher, thinker, planner, mentor, teacher, contemplative.


Motto: I make things happen.
Core desire: understanding the fundamental laws of the universe
Goal: to make dreams come true
Greatest fear: unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Talent: finding win-win solutions
Also known as: The visionary, catalyst, inventor, charismatic leader, shaman, healer, medicine man.


Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Core desire: control
Goal: create a prosperous, successful family or community
Strategy: exercise power
Greatest fear: chaos, being overthrown
Weakness: being authoritarian, unable to delegate
Talent: responsibility, leadership
Also known as: The boss, leader, aristocrat, king, queen, politician, role model, manager or administrator.

Which one best described you?

1. The Innocent; 2. The Everyman; 3. The Hero; 4. The Caregiver; 5. The Explorer; 6. The Rebel; 7. The Lover; 8. The Creator; 9. The Jester; 10. The Sage; 11. The Magician; 12. The Ruler

Still Unsure? Take the Quiz

If you are torn or want to double check your outcome try this test (it’s one of my favorites of all the ones out there) Very interesting questions to challenge and guide you. I recommend taking screen shots as you progress through the seven questions. How you prioritize reveals as much about what’s important as what is least important. Really helpful if you are developing a framework and guidelines for others to follow.