archetypes != stereotypes

In our discussions of personas, we often get tripped up by the terms archetype and stereotype. They are so similar, can they be used interchangably? I know I have mixed them up many times.

My dictionary isn't completely clear on the difference but my interpretation is:

  • an archetype is used to inform;
  • a stereotype is used to demean.

So, a persona is an archetype (but not a stereotype) for the ideal user and buyer of our products.

For more on personas, check out my article on Buyer and User Personas. Also read Adele's Buyer Personas blog and Bonnie's Product Personas blog.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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