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Over-metaphorization of brands: in search of meaning or just a clout chasing fad? | Slangbusters Blog
Aug 11, '20

Over-metaphorization of brands: in search of meaning or just a clout chasing fad?

Deep bro. Deep.

Remember in schools, especially in the language classes, when we were taught poetry, most of us would be explained meaning instead of having to interpret it ourselves.

What went wrong?

Brands represent a complex conglomerate of ideas, beliefs, and the reason for its existence. It does so through the research put in, the strategy devised, and the creation of its identity, among many other things. What it does is create a concentrate of concepts and thoughts into something that reveals them as soon as a consumer consumes any piece of communication.

As soon as big brands, successful brands took up metaphors as a strategy to convey, other brands who do not want to invest in the process, and want the outcome of metaphors, started adopting the approach without giving much thought. It resulted in the murder of modular metaphors that speak nothing but the thoughtlessness of the brand owners. Instead of giving the brand a witty, mindful brand personality, thoughtless metaphors ruined it for everyone through saturation.

Jargons also got their way into a contribution to the saturation.

What an excellent metaphor does for your brand?

It helps position better, more accurately. It bridges your brand and the feeling you want to associate with the product more accurately. Remember Wheaties cereal? “The breakfast of champions” and the feature of world-class athletes on the packaging did the job almost in a timeless manner. Even Gaurav Kapoor’s ‘breakfast with champions’ was able to harness the power of that metaphor to gain the audience it deserves.

It focuses on the nuances that might light up the sensory cells in the brain that associate concepts, feelings, and other intangibles with tangibles such as your brand, your product, or service.

These are literary devices that help you position your brand way better than otherwise.

Whether you have strategized it or not, all brands have a discernible tone. If you have not created one for your brand, the audience will assume one for themselves. It is a subconscious process that every human brain undergoes. The brand metaphor is a part of this tone. They operate on a deeper, more visceral level. They become almost obvious when pointed out.

A good metaphor can articulate the consumer’s feelings towards your brand and give you some control over how they feel about you. And lo! You have your positioning.

Another good use of these metaphors is the raw material for your marketing department. Entire advertising campaigns are designed around these metaphors. The traditional approach towards marketing is telling people the features of your brand and why they should invest in it. A more modern approach points out that the product inherently has to be excellent. You do not need to waste your advertising budget by telling people so, there are way too many options for your product in the market. Your next bet is the audience’s values. If they match with yours, you have consumer loyalty. Instead of being obvious, you are more discreet about showing them your values. Almost 95% of cognition happens outside of human awareness. Metaphors are great tools to do that with a hint of suspense, ambiguity, and creativity.

How to metaphor?

In his book, Marketing Metaphoria, Gerald Zaltman gives the ‘seven giants’ which are the universal metaphors that surpass boundaries like geographies, cultures, and languages:

1. Balance: Something that is needed everywhere, excess or lack thereof is useless. Physical, mental, social, psychological, aesthetic- all types of balance are necessary and hence, appreciated.

2. Transformation: Change is the only constant and we might consciously seek it or avoid it. Who doesn’t love a good story of a good transformation?

3. Journey: Any type of journey be it physical, social, or psychological makes for a good metaphor. From getting out of a mental block to your professional journey of becoming what you are today is a good story.

4. Container: Data became the new oil and privacy became the talk- a perfect example of the container metaphor in the internet and social media era. We are connected to who we give access to our private data.

5. Connection: Material belongings had a new meaning, they were not just belongings, but we had an emotional connection to items that we owned. This connection can be used to the metaphors of the little events and memories that are attached to it.

6. Resource: Products are a resource to fulfill a need, could be one of the basic necessities, could be a luxury item that one couldn’t live without. Tapping into the resourceful aspect of your brand can be a metaphor very much conveniently.

7. Control: Emotions like uneasiness, discomfort, and anxiety kick in when we lose control. The feeling of powerlessness is felt in situations we have without control over it. Control can be one of the most visceral and depth inducing metaphors. And a feeling of having control can be achieved through value systems and beliefs.

Metaphors make sense out of whatever we consume or come across. It can guide us in making decisions that result in subsequent actions. These tools can help brands make metaphors and tap into human emotions that are long-lasting than situations of their absence.

Slangbusters believe in explaining better so that the entrepreneur can be a significant part of their own brand-building process. Come, let’s create metaphors, let’s create brands. Contact us now.

— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio

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