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Home / Resources / News / Creating imaginary characters

Creating imaginary characters

We know that identifying different types of unmet needs and capabilities can make use of customer segmentation techniques. But how about combining the data to reveal new needs & patterns, could these help create personas or characters people could relate to?

People naturally look for characters they can identify with. They have the power to personalize the story and deepen our connection with a particular issue. The battle of the story is often the battle over who gets to speak for the characters that are the most sympathetic. But the people most affected by an issue get to speak for themselves?

This is why social reporting is so important, not only because it enables everyone to be able to develop their journalistic skills without needing to spend big money on equipment or having the old boys networks to get an internship at a newsdesk, but because if done well, makes it easier for those affected to have a voice and report on their own lives.

When the people affected by an issue are cast as characters by those in power, the fight often becomes a contest to assert who the people really affected are, and which side they are on. None more so than during the London riots – from local businesses to the tourism industry, through to the rioters themselves.

But what about putting a more positive spin on creative disruptors as characters? It is shown that people who display eccentric behaviours defy all the stereotypes assigned to them – they are less likely to need to visit the doctor and are happier. “Eccentrics tend to be optimistic people with a highly developed, mischievous sense of humour, childlike curiosity and a drive to make the world a better place.

From the Kindness Offensive (@kindoffensive) to Militant Optimists (@davidbarrie), could we apply these eccentric behaviours to community organisers to use creative techniques to bring communities together?

We’re looking to see how we could create imaginary characters to help better design a festival. In Japan they use manga characters (@hannahfearn) as a way to invest in local identities, what characters would best embody your local area?

That’s why we’ve developed different imaginary characters from Invisible Citizens toMilitant Optimists via Zombie Generation and Lifestyle Hackers, which we’ll reveal during the Festival on 12-20th October.

That’s why we want to introduce the work that @thisiskyramaya through her research on the @misfiteconomy.


Kyra tells the story of how in an era where autocracy was the way society and the economy was organising, pirates emancipated themselves from the merchant sailors to create new forms of democracy where “every pirate had a say in how that ship should be run” and even had social insurance in case they got ill. 

As she says, sometimes you’ve got to look to your dark side to better understand yourself, the world you live in and the seeds of creativity. Maybe through having to cope with uncertain and precarious situations, can we create new ways of making a living like the pirates did?