Putting unmet needs into character

2 min readMay 23, 2024

Identifying different unmet needs and capabilities can involve customer segmentation techniques. But how about combining the data to reveal new needs and patterns? Could these help create personas or characters people could relate to?

People naturally look for characters they can identify with. They can personalise the story and deepen our connection with a particular issue.

The battle of the story is often over who gets to speak for the characters who are the most sympathetic. But do the people most affected by an issue get to speak for themselves?

This is why social reporting is so essential. It enables everyone to develop their journalistic skills without needing to spend big money on equipment or have the old boys’ networks to get an internship at a news desk. If done well, it also 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 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.

Militant optimists or disruptive deviants?

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.”

So why not try the six tips by @good for making a better place, one neighbourhood at a time?

From the @kindoffensive to Militant Optimists (coined by @davidbarrie), could we apply these eccentric behaviours to community organisers to use creative techniques to bring communities together? In Japan, they use manga characters (h/t @hannahfearn) as a way to invest in local identities. What characters would best embody your local area?




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese