Generate additional ideas for more impactful and emotive visuals and messages.
A metaphor is when you talk about one thing in terms of another:
Time is money
Consumed by love
The sweet smell of success
The difference between an intuitive design and a confusing one often comes down to whether you’re using the right metaphors. Metaphors play a big part in the language of design. They work because they are sensory.
It’s raining cats and dogs
I’m visiting an old flame
He saw the light at the end of the tunnel
A lot of people think of metaphors as a fancy writing tactic—a way to spice things up or sound more poetic. Well, knock that idea out of your head, because metaphors aren’t just for poets. Metaphors are for everyone. They’re baked into our language, and we can’t communicate without them. In the design world, we depend on metaphors all the time. From the icons we use, to the terms we choose, metaphors show up everywhere in design. That icon that shows up in a lot of apps? That’s a metaphor for settings. “Add to cart”? That’s a metaphor for an order.
The creative metaphors tool has been designed to encourage and stimulate creative thinking in advance of the development of marketing activities and messages. Rather than communicating directly on the features of your solutions, using metaphors enables you to think more creatively and helps us to generate additional ideas for more impactful and emotive visuals and messages.
Advantages: Playful, symbolic; People can talk about themselves through a symbol; Systems-focused. Invites people to make connections; Can be applied to many situations.
Disadvantages: Requires a lot of work to think of appropriate metaphors; May lose some meaning in cultural/individual translation; Can be complicated to introduce to people because it requires entering imaginative space.
Why you need it
Metaphors can reduce complexity and make the functionality and advantages of your product or solutions more visible, understandable and memorable. Rather than simply repeating or describing our capabilities, metaphors can open up creative avenues in terms of selecting the marketing vehicles we use, the messages we communicate and in the imagery that accompanies our materials. As a result, our activities will make a lasting impression and will always feature a unique and ‘smart’ style.
How you use it
Metaphors can be a strong vehicle to communicate a product promise. The key point is to use them to generate potential ideas and stories for your communications. We can use metaphors in both words and images. In truth, metaphors are one of many types of ‘figurative language’ that can be used to stimulate creativity in this exercise. Other examples include Simile, Allusion/Characterisation, Hyperbole, Personification, Onomatopoeia, Alliteration/Consonance or even Direct Opposites.
Comparison of two things saying that one is another (e.g. Life is a rollercoaster)
Comparison of two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’ (e.g. As strong as an ox)
Likening something to a character, person, place or event (e.g. After all his hard work, the backyard was like the Garden of Eden)
An exaggeration to prove a point (e.g. I told you a million times)
Giving human characteristics or comparing to a person (e.g. Sleeping baby to illustrate the concept of ‘secure’)
The use of a word to make a descriptive sound (e.g. Whoosh, Thud, Ding)
Repetition of a letter or sound (e.g. Seriously strong stuff)
Using the opposite of a feature or benefit to generate ideas for visuals or copy (e.g. Fast > Slow, Waterproof > Wet)