More about personas

Three books, two templates and one little glossary about personas.

design thinking, service design, persona programme using personas, customer journey and ideation

We've been helping people research, create and use their personas for over 20 years. As a result, we've listened to hundreds of interviews, persona presentations and data stories. Some personas are so up-to-date that teams can make quick decisions for products and services with high impact. On the other hand, we see personas with a high future and aspirational level that are very much 'on brand' but hard to validate at the moment. It depends if you need the personas for service design, branding or communication - one size will not fit all. But one approach will help you to connect to what is essential. To help you make the best decision in your projects, we share with you three books we find inspiring for our work, two templates we use, and one little glossary with a short description to enrich your business vocabulary.


3. Three books we find inspiring

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman


Starting in 1994 in the streets of Rotterdam, this overarching and ongoing project portrays individuals with a set of defining visual characteristics that identify them with specific social types. Be it Gabbers, Glamboths, Mohawks, Rockers or The Girls from Ipanema, Versluis and Uyttenbroek's extremely acute eye allows them to discern specific dress codes, behaviours or attitudes that belong and characterise particular urban tribes or sub-cultures. The book is currently sold out; you could try it at your second books store or have a look on the website.

The User is Always Right

A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas takes you through each step of persona creation, including tips for conducting qualitative user research, applying quantitative research to persona creation, various methods for generating persona segmentation, and proven techniques for making personas realistic. The book is somewhat dated, focusing on websites, but it is methodologically excellent. 

The Craftsman

Actually, the book has little to do with personas per se. But sociologist and classical music cellist Richard Sennett argues that the spirit of craftsmanship involves the "desire to do a job well for its own sake". For Sennett, people motivated purely by material rewards or competition do not tend to produce as good work as those motivated by a sense of craftsmanship. He also argues that participating in craftmanship - as opposed to mere labour or cerebral activity - is good for people's well-being. He tracks the waxing and waning of the craftmanship ethos across history. It is an inspiration you can use not only for persona creation but for any product or service.

2. Two Templates we use in workshops

Download: The Persona Core Poster, The Aspirational Persona Poster

The Persona Core Poster

The Persona Core Poster has been downloaded more than 100.000 times since Christof Zürn designed it in 2011. And this is why we also included it here. It is the basic poster for a persona-workshop and free of use.
Download PDF: Persona Core Poster.

The Aspirational Persona Poster

The Aspirational Persona Poster is somewhat different. It connectw with the the brand Expressions. It is the persona we aspire, you could also say our ideal cusatomer of the future. This is our inspiration for products, services and stories. Because the aspirational persona is assumption based it is risky to use it for service design - so don't do it.
Download PDF: Aspirational Persona Poster.

1. One little Glossary to make a difference

Glossary and explanations from the book The Power of Music Thinking. Like: reality persona, aspirational persona, buyer persona, target group.

This is an excerpt from the book: The Power of Music Thinking by Christof Zürn


A target group describes a range of potential customers and consumers a company wants to reach and influence based on market trends segmented on quantitative data. It is used to quantify potential investment and return on that investment. 


Profiles, quick profiles, or decision-making profiles are assumptions based on educated guesses. A profile represents the customer, consumer, or user. If there is no research, use quick profiles to make version 0.1 to move forward. This can be validated later and iterated to personas (after quantitative and qualitative research). 


Personas are detailed archetypal descriptions of typical members of a target group. A persona is the presentation and translation of all sorts of data, facts, and information into one practical format (a poster, for example). Reality personas are based on research facts, updated and validated regularly, and related to the sources (quantitative and qualitative). A reality persona is data storytelling to take action. A reality persona needs a date, a version number, and a list of sources. Use the persona like a mask to put on when you think and look from the perspective of a person with specific attributes, needs, and behaviours. 


An aspirational persona is a detailed, archetypal description of a brand's ideal customer, consumer, and user. It is based on brand values, brand personality, and guiding principles to assure consistent behaviour and communication from the brand perspective. Often, there is only one Aspirational Persona. It is used to balance the customer's needs (reality persona) and what the brand stands for in constant communication and delivery. 

0. kick-start your persona programme

Book now: 1. The Persona Awareness Masterclass for Managers, 2. The 2-Day Persona Workshop, 3. The Persona Long Term Programme

The persona AWARENESS MASTERCLASS for managers

Join us for an awareness masterclass of 2 hours about what personas are, what different kinds of personas exist, and what it takes to make them, maintain them and use them. And what management, communication, service design, and branding should know about personas to make them valuable instruments in creating meaningful experiences for your eomployees, partners and clients.
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The Two-day Persona Work Session

Join us for a 2-day hands-on work session to find patterns, learn about and make segmentation decisions and create the first personas. You should have done some research yourself, and client-facing colleagues should join the session.
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The long term persona programme

Start a research-driven persona programme together. Think about the impact the persons will have, who should work with personas, and what a persona life cycle would be to update them regularly. Connect the programme with other human-centred design activities (Design Thinking, Service Design), Branding and Communication that should benefit from the personas.
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Dutch / Nederlands: Alle opties zijn ook in het Nederlands.
German / Deutsch: Alle Optionen gibt es auch auf Deutsch