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By January 23, 2023January 31st, 2023No Comments

How can putting yourself in a box, ever help you feel more free?

Why do even creative, innovative, original thinkers yearn for structure and perfection?

How did one computer company become the apple of so many people’s ‘i’ through relentlessly embodying one specific brand personality?

And how did I adopt that same archetype in coming up with my own extraordinary marketing mix model?

This is Zonal Marketing – a series which explores how challenger brands are shaking up their industries with extraordinary marketing.

I’m Simon Vincent – the Marketing Tactician – and in this episode I’m exploring the brand archetype of The Creator.

Identifying and consistently implementing a brand archetype in your marketing is one of the most effective ways to set yourself up for getting great results and so today I’ll explain what this specific archetype is and how Apple have applied it over the years to great effect.

Finally, I’ll turn the microscope on myself and my company X-CMO as a way of illustrating how I’ve applied the archetype my own business. My hope is that, if the Creator brand archetype works for you and your company, using myself as a small business example will help you to apply it to yourself and, in so doing, empower you to organise, execute and measure your own marketing more effectively.

So, let’s kick this thing off.



The idea of archetypes goes back to the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. A disciple of Sigmund Freud, Jung posited that there are 12 personality archetypes and that each of us exhibits one dominant type in our day-to-day activity. Note that Jung was talking about INDIVIDUALS’ personality traits.

Over the years, these archetypes have been applied to brands and I’ve spoken in my episode on How Not to Be Boring about this in general terms.

The 12 archetypes Jung identified are the Innocent, the Sage, the Explorer, the Outlaw, the Magician, the Hero, the Lover, the Jester, the Everyman, the Caregiver, the Ruler and – the subject of today’s episode – the Creator.

And cognitive therapist and author of the website Know Your Archetype, Amelia Fisher defines the Creator archetype as:

“look[ing] for stability and control. They examine the boundaries of our reality and perception. Creators find inspiration anywhere and can be creative in almost any condition.”

She continues, “They have the desire to craft meaningful and special things. They pride themselves on being original. They pave the way for others to follow. A person with the creator archetype has traits of perfectionism and obsessiveness. They are also called the designer, the artist, the craftsman, and the inventor.”

Now, the I first time I looked into this archetype, certain parts of it seemed incongruent to me. For example, the idea of being “a creative” didn’t necessarily tally with the idea of looking for stability, control and perfectionism in my head. In other versions of this analysis, you’ll often see these traits as being linked with wanting to create structure.

And yet, on reflection, it started to make sense to me. After all, what else is a creator – an artist – doing if not trying to turn diverse, complex, intangible ideas and emotions into a simpler, more easily-communicated format – a song, a painting, a sculpture for example -giving structure or form to that which is essentially ethereal?

But, of course, there’s a secondary element to the archetype and that is the idea of innovation or originality; as if the job of the artist is to acknowledge the structures within which they are creating, but also to strain against them – to push them to their limits in the quest to create something that has never been seen, heard or experienced before. To play jazz, to coin a particularly apt phrase.

To the creative, it’s not enough to simply give form to something. For them, that thing must be extraordinary in some way; it must be different, beyond what we normally expect, remarkable even.

And this begs a final question that I’m asked quite often, which is, “why would you want to put yourself or your company in one particular box? After all,” clients will say, “don’t we all have elements of the Jester, the Lover, the Caregiver within us, depending on who we’re with and what we’re doing?” In a brand context, clients will often argue that they need different personas depending on which channel they’re on and what type of customer interaction they’re having.

And to this, I use the example of a good friend of mine who was diagnosed with ADHD. I remember hearing the news and telling him how sorry I was. His response? “Don’t be. I’m actually relieved. For years,” he said, “I’ve questioned why I act in certain ways, whether I’m just a bad person and how I can work out strategies to help me change. Now I have this diagnosis, it’s like I’m free. I no longer have to torture myself to be a certain way, because I know that this part of my personality is always going to be there and that I have to make my peace with it; take pride in the benefits it brings me and accept that others may not like certain other parts of it.”

He finished by saying, “It doesn’t mean to say that I can’t – and don’t – sometimes act in more socially accepted ways. But when I do, nowadays it feels like something I can reward myself for and take joy in, rather than punish myself when I don’t”.

This reminds me of Viktor E. Frankl’s discussion on how logotherapy can be used to treat neuroses in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. He uses, amongst other examples, the case of a person who struggles to sleep. His recommendation is that the patient goes to bed and intentionally tries not to fall asleep. In so doing, they would relieve the anticipatory anxiety which kept them awake in the first place, thus allowing them to fall asleep.”

My friend’s labelling of his ADHD and the application of a brand – and, indeed, personal – archetype works in a similar way. Once you’ve put yourself in a box, there is, ironically a sort of freedom in it. Freedom to know who you are, what your expectation of yourself is, and how you can communicate all of that in a way that is authentic. In so doing, you’re more calm, more able to act in ways you, yourself, are comfortable with, others understand you better and you get better results.



The brand most commonly associated with the Creator archetype is Apple. And certainly, the ‘creator’ links are clear to see.

How many times have you heard someone say that Macs are for ‘artistic types’ – particularly in comparison to the more rigid, business-focussed PCs of the likes of IBM, Windows and Dell? It wasn’t just an effective ad campaign.

In large part, the company’s products have this reputation because they are (to paraphrase the author Simon Sinek) “beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly”. They’ve given form to something that is actually incredibly complicated. But because they’ve done it in such a simple, intuitive and aesthetically pleasing way, it’s easily understood by people and therefore the message is easily transmitted. Like a musician making a three-and-a-half minute pop song about a subject as complex as heartbreak.

Note: Apple’s competitors infamously don’t make any efforts to hide the complexity of their products. They want to bamboozle you with jargon you don’t understand – Pentium II Processors and the like – because they want to convey the impression to you that their products are so technologically advanced that you will trust or believe them to be superior machines.

Where Apple’s INNOVATIVE strain comes in, is in their marketing. This is their way of appealing to a target market of creatives and original thinkers.

This is a brand whose very logo is the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, with a bite taken out of it, no less; a not-so-subtle reference to Adam and Eve’s thirst for knowledge and disobedience of authority in the Bible. Their strapline is ‘Think Different’. No explanation needed.

Their legendary 1984 Super Bowl TV ad featured a ‘creative-type’ protagonist daring to stand out against the bland, monochrome masses. As Seth Godin explains in his book, ‘This is Marketing’, even the fact that Apple used imagery from George Orwell’s book was an innovation of sorts; a reference to the fact that, if you’re one of the few who understands the references to this dystopian sci-fi novel, you’re probably the type of person who ‘gets’ Apple’s ‘think different’ stance.

He adds, “It took 30 years for the idea to spread… 30 years to build hundreds of billions of dollars of market cap. But it happened,” says Godin, “because of the brilliant use of semiotics. At every turn, Apple sent signals. And they sent them in just edgy enough words, fonts and design that the right people heard the message.”

As Sinek notes in his book, ‘Start with Why’, marketing and product come together when Apple developed the naming convention behind the iPod, iPad and iPhone.

“They’re so effective at [communicating what they believe]” he says, “that they’re actually able to clearly identify their own products simply by preceding the product name with the letter ‘i’. But they don’t just own the letter, ‘i’; they own the word ‘I’. They are a company that champions the creative spirit of the individual. And their products, services and marketing, simply prove it.”

Finally, their tone of voice is irrepressibly playful; their innovative use of language seamlessly representing their creative approach to product development.

In an ad for MacBook they used the line “Light [full stop] Years Ahead” messing around with grammar to communicate their playful, innovative, creative ethos. When advertising the iPhone 12, their ads read “Blast Past Fast”, employing rhyme and simplicity to quickly, memorably and, yes, creatively communicate a range of product points including 5G. And when promoting the iPad Pro their strapline was “Your next computer is not a computer”. And when you’ve heard that, as a tech-savvy, inquisitive, original thinker, who isn’t going to want to find out what their next computer is going to be?



In this final section, I want to talk about why my company’s archetype is The Creator, in the hope that, in hearing my explanation, you might recognise the archetype in your own company and, therefore get a sense of how to apply it to your own marketing.

Let me start by saying that 98% of all marketing is ordinary. Not terrible, not offensive, not even bad. Just ordinary.

And ordinary is fine if all you want is ordinary results. Ordinary pays the bills. Ordinary keeps people in jobs. Ordinary is what most people expect.

But with everything I am, and with everything I do, I am striving to the find, champion and embody the 1% that is more than ordinary. I am obsessed with the extraordinary.

It probably comes from my upbringing; a childhood spent switching country every three years or so instilled in me a kind of restlessness that means that every so often I feel the need to experience something I haven’t experienced before.

Nowadays, I’ve noticed this pattern emerge in so many of my passions from the music I listen to, to the type of work that turns me on.

And one thing I’ve noticed, when working with clients or studying how other brands do their marketing, is that part of the problem that we – as marketers – face is that the system – the structure if you will – that is mainly used to explain the customer journey – the sales funnel – is limited, outdated and fixated on but a single outcome of marketing – the sale.

But, as we know, compelling, considered, consistent marketing is about so much more than simply sales figures. There are, to my mind, 10 core metrics any decent company should be using when it comes to tracking their marketing and, while some of them are, indeed, revenue, number of sales and conversion rate, others include churn rate, customer satisfaction, word of mouth (or referral), impressions, traffic, bounce rate and engagement.

In summary, more of these metrics than don’t track the awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy parts of a customer journey. And the last two of these parts are not accounted for in the typical sales funnel model; they drop out the bottom of the funnel if you will. Yet, given the multitude of business models that exist nowadays with the long tail of the internet, the freemium and subscription models used by the likes of Netflix and Spotify and so much more besides, many companies’ foci are less on the sale and more on the other parts of the journey.

Is it any wonder that so many brands’ marketing is limited in its effectiveness – it drives ordinary results – when the generally accepted marketing model is also limited. And we all know that it’s limited. It’s just that no-one has come along and challenged it with something that is equally as elegant but better suited for the world in which we live now.

My model – Zonal Marketing – which places equal emphasis on attacking (making sales) as defending (retaining customers) and evokes the world of tactics as a means of creating a more attacking or defensive approach, according to your own company’s marketing needs is my attempt at doing that. For a more in-depth run through, check out episode seven on How to Build a Marketing Model Mix.

In summary, brands follow formulas and structures like the sales funnel because there’s often a lot of money involved, a brand’s reputation is ALWAYS on the line, and for small businesses, sometimes the very viability of the company itself rests on the success or failure of its marketing. So, sticking to what we know, what has driven results for others in the past, seems safe. I get it.

And yet, safe is the very antithesis of marketing. Real marketing is about standing out from the crowd, getting noticed, being loud. And so a marketing strategy that looks to the examples of others to ascertain the ‘right’ answers is, by its very definition, trying to be ordinary and that will, ironically, always limit the potential of any marketing campaign. 

If you’re to have any marketing success at all you have no choice but to stand out – to be extraordinary.


For more on the ideas and approaches mentioned in this episode, I recommend checking out my core Zonal Marketing playlist on which I take you through the process of building a considered, consistent and compelling marketing mix from scratch, taking my lead from the world of sports tactics.

If you’d prefer more of the human touch, you can ask me to talk through these ideas with you and your team one-to-one. I’m available for speaking gigs, training sessions and client work and to find out how to talk to me about any of that, please use the Contact form below.  

Check back here every week for a new episode, each one explaining another part of my tactical approach to marketing. If you’re enjoying this series, please do like, comment, share, subscribe and/or review – depending on the platform you’re on. It all really helps the channels and, if it helps the channels, I’m hoping it’ll help more people just like you.



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