The three most frequent questions I get about modern archetypes

21 May 2019

The three most frequent questions I get about modern archetypes

Modern archetypes are an effective tool when working with brands, but they are not necessarily part of the curriculum in marketing programmes. So Thomas Wagner often hears the same questions. Get the answers here.


If you are not already familiar with modern archetypes, you may want to read my introduction to them here.

When I talk about archetypes, there are usually three questions that keep coming up. This was also the case this time around, whether we were in Denmark or Sweden. And since they are good questions, the answers will hopefully interest you too, dear reader. Let’s start with the most popular one:

1) What is the difference between modern and classic archetypes?

Some of you have probably heard of Jung’s archetypes – these are the ones we call the classic archetypes. And how do they differ from the modern archetypes? To summarise it in one word: it is about representation.

It is about 100 years since Jung developed his theory. One can safely say that much has happened in the meantime (the emancipation of women, youth rebellion and so on), and so the big difference is that modern archetypes are representative of the people living in 2019 – women as well as men.

For the same reason, our model is based on the latest research by Nancy Krieger, Ph.D. and a leading international expert in modern archetypes.

2) What do archetypes mean for our persona models?

Persona models are a well-known tool in many companies. So it is therefore natural to want to know something about the relationship between archetypes and personas. For example, should we scrap painstakingly crafted personas in favour of modern archetypes?

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is that archetypes increase the explanatory power of persona models. If you talk to a media agency about who your target audience is, they will begin with demographics and behaviour. Archetypes take it one step further – they can explain why the behaviour is how it is and therefore you can actually use them to strengthen your personas. They add another layer of understanding, so to speak.

3) What is the distribution of the various archetypes?

Another interesting question that we really want to know the answer to ourselves. But despite the fact that we have conducted a great many archetype analyses and thus have plenty of data, these analyses have been performed on behalf of brands within specific industries. The results are therefore highly relevant for the individual brands and their target audiences, but not necessarily representative of the entire population.

The good news is that we are conducting a major analysis which will soon give us the answer to how many there are of the different archetypes. Initially in Denmark, and later also in Sweden. You will definitely hear more about it when we have the results.

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