By Julia Southwick and Joy Carandang
The Twelve Brand Archetypes was founded by none other than the famous psychologist Carl Jung. Upon developing research surrounding his theory of symbolism as a catalyst for humans to better understand complex constructs, he began to acknowledge how individuals are by-products of the world around them and their own unconscious nature. Well-known personality tests, including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), have drawn great influence from Jung’s work. Many have critiqued Jung’s Archetypes for being both sexist and stereotypical of both feminity and masculinity.
For over 100 years since the term “archetypes” was initially coined by Jung, researchers throughout various interdisciplinary fields–from medicine to humanities and social science–have shared their interpretations of Jung’s concept. Likewise, many professionals in the field of contemporary psychology are not fond of implementing archetypes in their practices due to an argued lack of scientific basis. While it has been criticized for its symbolic and rather abstract nature, literary writers have adopted it as a device for dynamic storytelling in creative outlets such as literature, poetry, and screenwriting.
Jung believes that an individual’s archetype is found through a self-realization process (individuation), where they recognize traits that shape their unique identity. Our environment influences the way we are and how we react to certain situations. According to Jungian psychology, archetypes are a foundation that individual experiences are built on top of influenced by their culture, personality, and life events, there are a small number of natural shapeless archetypes that create a large number of images, symbols and behaviors. These images, symbols and behaviors are consciously recognized, the archetypes behind them are unconscious and imperceivable.
The Layers of Archetypes
Each archetype is made of three parts: the shadow, ego/self, and persona. The persona is subdivided into the anima, female, and animus, male, parts of personality. Discover your distinctive archetype by taking this quiz or this one and view the archetypes listed in the graphic below.
- Innocent (Dreamer): Their goal is to feel safe, their destiny is to find paradise. The greatest strength of the innocent is trust and the greatest weakness is naivete. They view the world with awe, and wonder; and view people as inherently good, believe in free expression, optimism, hope. These optimists fear punishment for transgressions and yearn for freedom and proper procedures.
- The shadow is the Victim. They take purity and naivete to the extreme and are often gullible, helpless, and powerless. The Victim represents a sense of powerlessness and a belief that one is at the mercy of circumstances or others’ actions as they have no agency. They often feel sorry for themself, blaming others for their problems, or feeling helpless to change their situation.
- Regular Person (Everyman/Orphan): Their goal is to feel a sense of belonging, their destiny is to build connections with others. The greatest strength of the everyman is objectivity and the greatest weakness is cynicism. The everyman aims to belong as their early life is marked by trauma and disappointment which motivates them to bring balance and connection to the world and they see everyone as equal. The regular person fears ostracisation.
- For regular people, the shadow is harder to pin down. In their shadow form, the Everyman is terrified of individualism and being left out of a group. They have a fear of abandonment above all else and standing out. In extreme forms, this often results in a complete lack of self and identity. They can become overly conformist or lacking in ambition or may struggle with feelings of mediocrity or insignificance. This can lead to feeling stuck or trapped in your life, or your accomplishments or contributions are not valued or appreciated.
- Hero: Their goal is to overcome obstacles, their destiny is to leave a mark on the world. The greatest strength of the hero is courage and the greatest weakness is ego. To the hero, every obstacle can be can be overcome and will be overcome. They aim to make the world a better place on their journey and will be lauded for their efforts to do so. The hero’s journey is at the center of many stories, and the hero sees themselves in the protagonist role of their life, too. Hubris is their ultimate flaw; they fear cowardice.
- The shadow is the Bully/Anti-hero. They take courage and strength to the extreme and are often aggressive, violent, and intimidating. This version of the Hero may become self-righteous or struggle with a need to prove their worth or superiority constantly. They may constantly be picking fights, overly aggressive, abusive, or bullying others.
- Caregiver (Parent): Their goal is to offer service to others, their destiny is to bring structure. The greatest strength of the caregiver is selflessness and the greatest weakness is being easily taken advantage of. The caregiver believes they are put on the Earth to benefit the lives of others. Every disaster or stroke of bad luck is an opportunity to help. With so much negativity in the world, the caregiver can get overwhelmed; or worse, their good nature can get exploited. They can be exploited by others and fear ingratitude for their compassion.
- The shadow is the Martyr. They take caregiving to the extreme and are self-sacrificing, codependent, and often find themselves in relationships where they are not appreciated. In this context, martyrdom is seen as honorable, as in other contexts, even though it is unnecessary self-sacrificing, more akin to victimhood. They may find themselves constantly giving to others without receiving anything in return and in relationships where they are not appreciated which can lead to burnout, resentment, and a sense of feeling unappreciated or undervalued.
- Explorer: Their goal is to be free, their destiny is to find paradise. The greatest strength of the explorer is their open-mindedness and their greatest weakness is a sense of isolation by always seeking for more. Everything in the explorer’s world is a question, and they are determined to find the answer. The whole world is something to be explored, but there is only so much time available to do so. Saying “yes” to exploring often means saying “no” to building connections and establishing routines at home. Because they constantly move around, they might become misfits, but nevertheless, they are ambitious.
- The shadow is the Wanderer. Taking adventure and independence to the extreme, they are often rootless, aimless, and directionless. Those who identify with this shadow archetype may find themselves constantly moving from place to place or changing jobs frequently. They may become reckless and impulsive or may struggle with a lack of direction or purpose–leading to feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction, or a sense of feeling lost.
- Rebel: Their goal is liberation for all, their destiny is to leave a mark on the world. The greatest strength of the rebel is boldness and the greatest weakness is that they do not abide by law and order. The rebel not only seeks liberation for themselves but for all. The structures which have established and divided society today are meant to be destroyed. Rules are meant to be broken. This leaves the rebel with little choice but to break laws and face trouble from the powers that aim to maintain the status quo. Although they initially have good intentions, they might join the “dark side.”
- There are two distinct variations of the Shadow Rebel:
- Becoming rebellious for the sake of rebellion, they may engage in destructive or harmful behavior simply to defy authority or challenge the status quo, without considering the potential consequences of their actions.
- This individual could become rebellious against their own best interests, resisting change or growth out of fear or insecurity. As a result, they may cling to familiar patterns or behaviors, even if they are not healthy or productive. They also could reject opportunities for personal growth or transformation.
- There are two distinct variations of the Shadow Rebel:
- Lover (Spouse): Their goal is to feel intimacy with another, their destiny is to build connections. The greatest strength of the lover is forming deep bonds with others and the greatest weakness is that they want to be liked by everybody. The lover sees themselves in the greatest love stories. In their eyes, it’s better to have loved and lost than to never loved at all. Often, their desire for love can get in the way of accepting that not all relationships have to be positive and intimate to be productive.
- They’re at risk of losing their identity due to being a people-pleaser. Additionally, they can become the Addicted Lover, where their hunger for someone/something they love leads to eternal unrest in search of it. They may have strong desires but little intention to act. They might have a grand business idea that stays an idea; an individual “is a collector of” items and experiences.
- Can also become the Impotent Lover, a deflated version of the Lover. They lose joy in life and love, which can be caused by an individual reprimanding themselves too much.
- Creator (Artist): Their goal is to provide the world with something new, their destiny is to bring structure. The greatest strength of the creator is imagination and the greatest weakness is a lack of focus. The world is a canvas for the creator. They explore meaning through many media, always looking for an opportunity to innovate or bring something new to life. Creators have no problem starting a new project, but seeing it through becomes a barrier due to their perfectionism and lack of focus. Most Creators are meticulous, but this can be changed.
- The shadow is the Perfectionist. Nothing they create is good enough and are their own harshest critic and often find themselves feeling disappointed with their work. They may find themselves constantly trying to perfect their work and procrastinating or not finishing projects. This, from the outside, might look like suffering from creative blocks or lacking inspiration and feeling stuck which can lead to frustration, self-doubt, and feeling like their life has no purpose or meaning.
- Jester: Their goal is to spread joy, their destiny is to build connection. The greatest strength of the jester is humor and the greatest weakness is frivolity. Life is too serious– at least, that’s what the jester believes. They are the life of the party, making people laugh and smile and forget their troubles. Unfortunately, troubles still always prevail in the world, and the jester is not the person you turn to when looking for serious solutions.
- The jester uses jokes and making fun as a coping mechanism, alleviating suffering and making light of difficult situations. They may use their humor and playfulness to break down barriers and connect with others in a meaningful way. Also seen as tricksters or pranksters, these individuals use their wit to bring humor to a situation or to challenge it.
- Ruler (King/Queen): The caregiver of an entire nation – their goal is to gain control over others, their destiny is to bring structure. The greatest strength of the ruler is boldness and the greatest weakness is their authoritative demeanor. In the eyes of the ruler, the world is meant to be conquered. Control must be exerted over all land, for that is the only way structure and productivity will be achieved! This bold attitude from the ruler encourages people to fulfill tasks and build what needs to be built, but there are always people who push back on the powers that be.
- Can become the Tyrant (rules by threats and savors power) or the Weakling (gives up their power, the audience witnesses them in a position of being abused).
- Sage (Mentor): Their goal is to seek truth, their destiny is to find paradise. The greatest strength of the sage is wisdom and the greatest weakness is lack of action. The truth will set the sage free, and they are on a quest for freedom. They are careful to deliberate and consider all options before making decisions. Sages aren’t the people you can rely on to make quick, painless decisions, but if you have the time, consulting their wisdom will elevate your decision-making. Despite their wisdom, they can be overcome with inertia since they prefer to observe situations.
- The shadow is the Know-It-All. They take knowledge and wisdom to the extreme and are often arrogant, skeptical, and close-minded. They tend to constantly question or doubt others. They may also be too critical, overly dogmatic, self-righteous, or may struggle with indecisiveness or analysis paralysis.
- Magician: Their goal is understanding, their destiny is to leave a mark on the world. The greatest strength of the magician is that they are powerful and the greatest weakness is that can be manipulative. Magicians bring wonder and amazement to people, or are they just manipulating them? The line can be thin, as magicians are wise and powerful enough to get what they want in ways that appear to be a win-win for everyone. The intent behind a magician’s magic determines their ultimate fate. Intelligent, a reticent master of the knowledge of the future (magic, technology) who leads the Warrior. Many magicians are inventors.
- Due to their intelligence, they can become teasing Manipulators (sharing only parts of their knowledge) or the Innocent One (by manipulating others to do the dirty work for them).
Reading over the archetypes, I most strongly see myself as the Innocent or the Sage. I didn’t take the test the first time and related most to the Innocent then took the test on a website (I don’t remember which) and got the Sage. I feel strongly connected to both and don’t see one as more like me than the other. Both are in the freedom set of archetypes though the Innocent focuses on safety while the Sage focuses on knowledge and truth. They both desire freedom and to find paradise. As similar as the Innocent and the Sage are, they also, naturally, have their differences.
The Innocent is also called the dreamer and is very optimistic and trusting believing everyone to be inherently good. The Innocent relates to the following previous personality results I got: my primary Enneagram type 2 in the heart center; true colors blue; DiSC steadiness; and the Gallup test’s empathizer, coach, and optimist. All of these types prioritize emotions, optimism, and free thinking. It makes sense that I would get the Innocent based on the other results I got. I do tend to be optimistic, encourage free thinking, and am in tune with my emotions as you can see in any of our previous chapter meetings, which you can find on Youtube, and in any meeting we happen to be in together.
In those meetings, you’ll likely also notice aspects of the Sage in me. The sage is also called the mentor and likes to take time to think over decisions and consider all options before acting so that they can make the wisest decision. The sage relates to the following previous personality results I got: high scoring Enneagram type 7 in the mind center; DiSC conscientiousness; Gallup test’s coach, philomath, and thinker. All of these types prioritize thinking, knowledge, and logic. As with many other technical communicators, I value thinking logically to gain and distribute knowledge on a variety of topics. Some include making good presentations, explaining MailChimp, and explaining some diversity, equity, and inclusion related topics. Those are some examples from being a presenter and listening to others present in our educational programs. If you’d like to see more examples, you can see some in my previous (and future) articles here on MtM or look on our YouTube.
I love that I’m the Innocent and the Sage as together they speak to who I am as a whole and not just a part of me. It’s helped me in my writing by allowing me to write with equal pathos and logos which together with ethos form the basis for reasoned argument, persuasion, and communication on a variety of topics, including the intersection of tech comm and personality types. As a sneak peek: there will be nods to my archetypes in our last article in this series! Stay tuned!
Joy: Regular Person/Jester
Receiving my results as the regular person and jester have helped me understand the duality of one’s personality, and how they directly influence their interactions with other people. Also known as the Common Person, the core desire of the Regular Person is to connect with others and to belong. They strive for moral and equal values, and favor doing what is just. Some traits that describe the archetype include accepting, empathetic, and grounded. These tie into my previous results as a Myers-Briggs INFP and DiSC Influence, which support cohesiveness and creativity.
Throughout this past year, I have found happiness participating in STC Florida and FTC. I’ve enjoyed engaging in activities and projects where our work positively impacts the community. When involved in such dynamics, I strive for modes of equality and inclusion that mutually benefit everyone on the team as we aim to accomplish shared goals. Joining both organizations has helped me tremendously in developing interpersonal skills and learning how to work within a communication chain. I truly value belonging to our kind and supportive community, and I am blessed to learn from and work alongside my colleagues every week.
The Jester’s goal is to have a great time and lighten up the world, while their core desire is to live in the moment full of enjoyment. They are described as fun-loving, independent, and insightful–relating back to the results I received in other tests, such as Enneagram Type 4 and True Colors Orange, which also value spontaneity and cheerfulness. As part Jester, I embrace change and aim to be flexible when new plans arise. I try to see problems from different perspectives in order to improve my understanding of a topic or issue I am passionate about.
Since beginning my Technical Communication journey, I have become invigorated by the fascinating research and insights throughout our field. I love how every aspect is ever-evolving and I look forward to seeing where innovation and trends will take us in the next months, years, and decades. Until then, I hope to work on developing my skillset.
…But What Does This Have To Do With Tech Comm?
A career in Technical Communication can translate into working in a number of ever-changing industries and fields for various causes that operate within different workflows. An ever-growing number of industries have applied the archetypes to develop their distinct business models and branding. Taking Jung’s test can help a budding technical writer, a current technical writer, or an established practitioner who is looking to find themselves in a new industry identify their values and needs within the job market. Additionally, understanding your results can be beneficial in evaluating your modes of productivity and interpersonal skills.
Those interpersonal relationships drive our success on the job. Learning about our Archetypes provides a useful language for technical communicators to understand how we interact with others and how we want them to interact with us.
Knowledge about your Archetype and others’ Archetypes type can be used to connect with teammates, SMEs, and others in our companies and profession. This can provide the tools we need to convince others why tech writers are needed and why some decisions need to be made for our documentation.
We Want to Hear from You
No test will ever present a complete portrait of who you are, but many people find them useful for self-reflection or as tools to engage with others. We would love to hear from you about your experience with personality tests. Each test you take will give you a different perspective. Let us know what results you have gotten and how you have found that information to be useful or not.