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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 different types of creative personality. Learn how insight profiles (and the three monkeys) shape a person’s approach to creativity. And what this means for their creative strengths and weaknesses. Read this to learn more about different creative personality types.

We’ve written previously about how insight profiles affect how you do marketing and e-Commerce. But we don’t want creative types to feel left out. So this week’s article looks at how they affect different types of creative personality.

Insight profiles are a personality / working style assessment used to identify how people like to work and interact with others. It’s run by a company called Insights and based on psychological theories first put forward by Carl Jung.

When we looked at using these in marketing and e-Commerce, we linked them to the three wise monkeys. You know, the ones who hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. That’s where the Three Monkeys of Creativity title came from. Stay with us. Sounds a bit weird, we know. But it’ll make sense in the end. 

Sunshine Yellow Creative Monkeys

The first of the Three Monkeys of creativity is the Sunshine Yellow creative personality type.

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 lots of energy to everything they do. 

These are positive attributes when you need creative work done. Sunshine Yellows aren’t afraid to try new things. They get a buzz from pushing boundaries and have no fear of creativity. These types love to produce creative work that’s shocking, disruptive and breakthrough. If that’s what you need, 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’re often guest speakers at events and are active on social media. They love an audience, and being listened to. Creative yellow types love to boast about their creative brilliance. 

Just one problem though. You can’t be great at creativity all the time. It’s just not possible. 

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

However, some of what they produce won’t be creatively brilliant. But if you tell them something they’ve done needs more work, 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 through feedback rounds to get to brilliant creative is a total buzz kill for them.

Better starters than finishers

Typically, they’re great to have at the start of a creative project. But, a total pain in the butt when you have to finish 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 bad at listening. They’ll look at a brief, get an immediate idea, and then totally forget the brief. Seen it happen many times. They also 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 extroverts like Yellows. But, they’re more focused on the task. They’re all about Extrovert-Thinking

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

Man in a red T-shirt looking frustrated and angry

These types are 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 few issues with the quantity of work they turn 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 and don’t notice other people’s energy.

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

These types are more comfortable telling people how the world is than listening to how others see it. 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 get aggressive and confrontational. They’ll ask challenging questions about why you think like that. 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 a high volume of output and speed really matter. Go very carefully on bigger projects with higher quality standards and more stakeholders to include. 

Cool Blue Creative Monkeys

And finally, we reach 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 a lot of the work. That’s because they have a more thoughtful, focused approach to creativity.

Your man looking up towards the ceiling

They see creative arts like writing, graphic design and photography through a 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 most people think about ‘creative’ types, they visualise more extrovert types. But it’s often concentrated introvert energy which drives great creative work. 

Take copywriting, for example. It takes time and focus to draft, re-draft, edit and publish. Graphic design jobs like logos and icons take time and focus to pull together. Cool Blue creative personality types are great at focusing.

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 2 biggest 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 get stuck on detail. They agonise over the right word, and the right illustration or image. A big advertising campaign may 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 deal well with 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

Next, 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 share ideas until they’re sure they’re good enough. This speak no evil approach can frustrate others. Some may find them too quiet or 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.  

Earth Green Creative Monkeys?

Let’s not forget there’s a fourth insight profile. The Earth Green Introvert-Feelers. 

There are many Earth Greens out there. But, we’ve racked our brains and can’t think of a single person working in creative with 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’re also averse to conflict and challenging conversations. And there’s lots of both of those in creative development. Lots of criticism of your work. Lots of feedback to deal with. These are a challenge when your main goal is to bring harmony to others.

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 has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s really about finding the creative personality style which suits your current business needs. 

Need something disruptive and breakthrough? 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 creative guides to read more on this. Or get in touch if you have questions about creative personality types. 

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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