Meet the Jester Archetype
Teaching us to lighten up and live in the moment.
Think about the company you work for. Do you notice similarities amongst the employees’ values and beliefs? Are there moments where you say, “This always happens to us”? From the way you celebrate to how you answer the phone, there’s a multitude of cultural signals your company is sending off every day. One way to interpret the signals is through Carl Jung’s archetypes. Jung’s 12 archetypes are the subconscious patterns that help us give meaning to those things you “just can’t put your finger on.” One of the gems in the bunch, is the Jester archetype.
Playful and spontaneous
The Jester archetype is present in organizations that help us enjoy life. They show us how to laugh, how to smile, and strive to make someone’s day a little brighter. Whether its Fortune 100s or your mom and pop deli down the street, check out some of the Jester attributes below and see if you recognize this joyful character.
Jester archetype strengths
Jester companies are playful and curious. They make work fun and attract innovative, outspoken people. They’re the first to suggest a cocktail after a hard day and know how to help everyone relax on a Friday afternoon. Jester companies are also commonly praised and adored by others because their fun-loving attitudes make everyone say, “Hey, I want to hang out with them.”
Jester archetype shadow sides
Unfortunately every character has a few weaknesses. Identifying the shadow sides of an organization’s archetypal patterns helps it prepare for what might trip them up. For example, because Jesters rely so often on humor, they can push people’s boundaries or even become the butt of their own joke. A company that wants to have fun may neglect the routine or more difficult parts of office life (like bookkeeping or employee reviews). Unfortunately, because humor can come across as “low brow,” Jester organizations may feel like they need to convince people that they deserve to be taken seriously.
Organizations with jester characteristics
Is the Jester starting to sound familiar? This classic character plays out everywhere in our lives – from classic Shakespeare to our favorite ice cream companies. The way they make us feel keep us coming back for more. Here are a few Jester companies you might recognize:
- Little luxuries come free on a Southwest flight – like no bag fees and snacks that fill you up more than a bag of peanuts
- As their mission statement says, Southwest is “dedicated to warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit”
- “Fun-LUVing” is engrained in their culture: from the hearts on their planes and in their logo, to their NYSE ticker symbol, LUV.
- Don’t be surprised if your flight attendant breaks out into song, because that’s just the norm at Southwest.
Ben and Jerry’s
- For this company, life, happiness, and ice cream go hand-in-hand. In fact, their tagline is simple: Peace. Love. Ice Cream.
- Saw something funny on TV? Chances are there’s an ice cream for that (try The Tonight Dough, Wayne’Swirled, or Scotchy Scotch Scotch)
- Boom Chocolatta, Chubby Hubby, or Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz – you’ll smile just placing your order
- There’s no shortage of tie-dye, hippie vibes, or happy days. Don’t be surprised if your scooper is humming along to The Grateful Dead as they hand over your Cherry Garcia
- Take a walk in this company’s office and you’ll find customized beer taps, hammocks, a candy wall, and tons of orange (not what you’d expect from a software company)
- Unlimited vacation! What could be more fun than that? HubSpot knows that happy employees make happy customers – so employees are encouraged to take a break from work
- Did I just hear a technician laugh? Is that a customer service rep quoting a rap song? If you need help, HubSpot’s support team won’t send you through automated phone circles…they have real people with delightful attitudes to make your day better
The Jester archetype can be a saving grace in many organizations. Strategically supporting this character may help employees destress and unite team members of all levels with a good laugh. However, every Jester might need the support of one of the other 12 archetypes to add some structure, deadlines, or efficiency.