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The Three Monkeys of Creativity – What’s your creative personality style?

3 stone statues of monkeys. One monkey has hands over ears (hear no evil), one has hands over eyes (see no evil) and last has hands over mouth (speak no evil).

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Why read this? : We look at the different types of creative personality. Learn how insight profiles (and the three monkeys) shape a person’s approach to creativity. How they drive creative strengths, and also what they find more challenging. Read this to learn how to work with different creative personality types. 

Previous articles have covered insight colours and how different people hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil in marketing and e-Commerce. But we don’t want creative types to feel left out. So, this week, we look at how insights colour and the three monkeys apply to different types of creative personality. 

Insight colours are a personality and working style assessment used to identify how people like to work and interact with others. It’s run by a company called Insights and the assessment is based on psychological theories first put forward by Carl Jung. You can call these Jungian principles if you want to sound all smug and clever. Because, let’s face it, no-one really knows what that means anyway. 

When we looked at using insight colours in marketing and e-Commerce, we linked the colours to the three wise monkeys. You know, the ones which hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. That’s where the Three Monkeys of Creativity title came from. If you were interested.  

Stick with it, it’ll make sense we promise. 

Sunshine Yellow Creative Monkeys

So, the first of the Three Monkeys of creativity are the Sunshine Yellow creative personality types.

Sunshine Yellow Personality types are Extrovert-Feelers in psychological terms.

That means they get their energy from being with others. They hate being on their own. It drives them crazy if they can’t socialise.

Social distancing and lockdown rules have these types climbing the walls with boredom. 

Young boy in a yellow jersey showing loudly into a microphone

Emotions drive them rather than tasks. They like to work with people, rather than with things. Sunshine Yellows get their energy from what’s new and shiny. They bring great energy and buzz to everything they do. 

These are positive attributes when you need creative work done. Sunshine Yellows aren’t afraid to try new things. They positively buzz on pushing boundaries, without fear. These types love to produce creative work that’s shocking, disruptive and breakthrough. If that’s the sort of creative work you need or want, Sunshine Yellow creative personality types are a good choice. 

You’ll often find them in agency creative teams. Or, running idea generation and creative thinking workshops. They often appear as guest speakers at events, and are very active on social media.  They love an audience, especially when the audience listens to what they say. Creative yellow types love when an audience basks in their creative brilliance. 

Here’s the thing though. 

Nobody is creatively brilliant all the time. And Sunshine Yellow monkeys are no exception. 

Hear no evil

Creative Yellow Monkeys don’t want to hear this. They think they’re 100% “on” all the time. They talk so much, they hear no evil. 

It’s hard work to make them listen to anything other than the sound of their own voice. 

These creative personality types think everything they do is creatively brilliant. All the time. Super positive about everything.

They have no critical filter.

Two people holding up large ears on a small dog

Yet, sometimes what they produce won’t be creatively brilliant. And, if you tell them something they’ve done needs more work, well, it’s like taking sweets away from a kid. They won’t be happy. 

It’s hard to give feedback to Sunshine Yellow creative personality types. They don’t want to hear it. And often, their heads are already on the next project, anyway.

They lack the patience to focus on the project at hand. Grinding though several rounds of feedback to get to brilliant creative is a total buzz kill for them.

Better starters than finishers

So, typically, they’re great to have at the start of a creative project. But, a total pain in the arse when you actually want to complete a project.

They don’t like detail, so they make terrible editors. They’re quite ‘meh’ when it comes to deadlines. They’ll argue when you comment on creative decisions about colour, typography or your photography and video style. That can be hard work. They’re a nightmare in approval processes

And even when it’s not feedback, they’ll still generally be terrible at listening. They’ll look at a brief, get an immediate idea, and then totally forget the brief. Seen it happen many times. 

They usually have little to no interest in the commercial outcomes of the creative work. Working within budgets is a real drag for them. 

So, in summary, bags of energy and ideas. But feckless and disorganised. And, terrible at listening.

Fiery Red Creative Monkeys

The next of the Three Monkeys of Creativity are the Fiery Reds.

Fiery Red creative personality types are also extrovert like Yellows. But, they’re much more focussed on the task at hand. Extrovert-Thinking is what drives them. 

They’re who you want on your creative project when speed is key. Fiery Reds are super focussed on the end result. So much so, they tune out or ignore anything that’s not relevant to that result. They see no evil when it comes to creative.

Man in a red T-shirt looking frustrated and angry

These types are typically hard grafters, who won’t stop. They love the pressure of a deadline. The Fiery Red creative personality type feels a real sense of achievement when they hit or beat deadlines.

They positively thrive on it.

Fiery Red creative personality types love the sense of reward and achievement when things get done. 

You’ll have no issues with the quantity of work a Fiery Red turns out. They turn things around quickly, and focus on giving you whatever solves your writing, graphic design or creative problem fast.

See no evil

But like the Creative Yellow Monkeys, their extrovert nature means they push energy out, rather than notice the energy coming from others.

Fiery Reds can be oblivious or challenging to the views of others. They see opposing points of view, as just getting in the way of their progress. They see no evil in the way they approach creative tasks.

These types are more comfortable telling people how the world is, than listening to other’s point of view. They have low boredom thresholds. Creative Red Monkeys can be snappy when others are reflective or thinking out loud about the creative problem. 

Feedback can be a challenge

If you give feedback they don’t like, they can become aggressive and confrontational. They’ll ask challenging questions about why you think like that, and why you don’t see how good their work is. 

Creative Fiery Red Monkeys aren’t as common as Yellow and Blue creative personality types. Use them in creative areas where high volume of output and speed really matters. Go very carefully on bigger projects with higher quality standards and more stakeholders to include. 

Cool Blue Creative Monkeys

And then finally, we get to the last of the Three Monkeys of Creativity. That’s the Cool Blue creative personality types.

These are Introvert-Thinkers who get their energy from being on their own. Or, at a push working in smaller groups. 

They don’t have the sociability of the Red and Yellow types. In fact, you might not notice they’re there. But, in many marketing agencies, these types do the vast majority of the work. Because, what they do have is a much more thoughtful and focussed approach to creativity.

Your man looking up towards the ceiling

They see creative arts like writing, graphic design and photography through a much more crafted and perfectionist lens. Cool Blue creative personality types work best when they have time to think, research, reflect, craft and test their creative outputs. 

When people outside creative jobs think about the word ‘creative’, they tend to focus on more extrovert types. But, in actual fact, this introvert energy can be hugely important to craft great creative work. 

Copywriting for example. It takes time and concentration to draft, re-draft, edit and publish. Graphic design jobs like logos and icons take time and effort to pull together. Cool Blue creative personality types are great at this level of focus.

Cool Blue creative personality types are good at putting themselves in the shoes of the target audience, for example. Give them time, and they’ll work hard to produce the highest quality of creative. 

Speak no evil

And that’s where you run into the biggest 2 challenges with Cool Blue creative personality types. 

First, you often have to work to a deadline to deliver creative work. Cool Blue personality types hate this. Cool Blues can get really stuck on detail, and agonise over the right word, the right illustration or the right use of photography.

In a big advertising campaign, you might have that luxury. But, on regular social media posts which need to go out on a schedule, that “thinking time” can be a challenge.

Cool Blue creative personality types also don’t take well to the test and learn approach to creative. They’d rather perfect something before showing it, than send out something not quite right and get feedback. Creative evaluation can tie them in knots for weeks.

Internalised

And second, because the creative thinking is internalised in the head of the Cool Blue Creative Monkey, you don’t always hear or see their creative outputs. They don’t proactively put ideas out until they’re absolutely sure they’re good ideas.

This speak no evil approach can frustrate others. It can mean others find them too quiet or too low energy to inspire others with their creative. 

The best at thinking, and the most dedicated to high quality creative outputs. But, also the slowest at action. And, the worst at inspiring others with the energy behind their creative outputs.  

And what about Earth Green Creative Monkeys?

Let’s not forget there’s a fourth insight profile. 

The Earth Green Introvert-Feelers. 

There are many people of this type out there. But, we’ve racked our brains and can’t think of a single person working in a creative role who has Green tendencies. 

Don’t get us wrong, Earth Green personality types are a must-have in your wider team.

Earth Green personality types are empathetic and caring. They hold teams together. And, they’re supportive and collaborative in the way they work with others.

But, they are also very averse to conflict and challenging conversations.  And the nature of creative development is there are lots of conflict and challenging conversations.

Lots of criticism.

Lots of feedback

These are all very challenging when your main goal in your working life is to bring harmony.

Green personality type people can bring a lot of calmness and common sense to the creative approach of others. But, they rarely have the bloody-mindedness the other insight profile colours bring to creative work.

They’re just too nice to work in creative.

Though, arguably, they can make great leaders of creative teams. 

Conclusion - Three monkeys of creativity 

Like our articles on insight monkeys in marketing and e-Commerce, we don’t believe there’s a single insight style that’s better than others. Each of the Three Monkeys of Creativity come with their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s really about finding the creative personality style which suits your current business need. 

Need something disruptive and break-though? Find a Sunshine Yellow monkey. 

Need something fast? Find a Fiery Red monkey. 

And got time to have someone put a lot of time, effort and thought into making your creative the best it can be? Then Cool Blue monkeys are your best bet. 

Check out our skill guides to creative to find out more on this topic. Or contact us if we can help you identify the creative personality type you need to grow your business. 

Photo credit

Three Monkeys of Creativity : Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

Shout (adapted) : Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Dog ears : Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Frustrated Man (adapted) : Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Man looking at ceiling (adapted) : Photo by Anton Danilov on Unsplash

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