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Symbolic: Metaphors & Similes

This technique is useful to communicate complex or abstract ideas. And to communicate any idea quickly and vividly.

Metaphors and similes are the high-performance jet fighters of creative communications. Think of them as fast, powerful and effective.

A simile is a figure of speech that uses "like" or "as" to compare two different things in a way that creates a more vivid expression.

- Asper's new pain relief liquid works fast as, "Ahhhh."

- The service on Virgin Airlines was like dinner at Buckingham palace.

A metaphor, uses two things - such as a vivid statement or a dramatic visual - to suggest another thing. And does so without the "like" or "as."

- Example: A branding campaign for an investment bank uses the visual metaphor of a fencer to characterize the company as aggressive yet sophisticated.

Here are some more examples and approaches:

- Metaphors and similes can help you bring abstract ideas to life. To represent unexpected risks in life an ad for an insurance company could picture a man about to step on a banana peel.

- Metaphors and similes let you express sensitive subjects by suggesting rather than showing or saying. How, for example, do you visualize a product benefit like relief from constipation?

- A metaphor can also represent a product feature, as in the ad for an iron enriched breakfast cereal showing the cereal flakes flying out of the box as they are attracted to a magnet.

- Perhaps best of all, you can use metaphors and similes to express product benefits in fresh ways. A perfect example is the print ad for Gold's Gym showing a man lifting his car with one hand to change the tire. That's one strong dude.

So, you see how these symbolic expressions can help you represent a characteristic of the brand. Or a feature of the service. Or a benefit of the product. And you can do so with words and visuals, in film or print.

Just make sure your metaphor is fresh. If you've seen it or heard it before, don't do it again.

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Creative tip: Here's how a simile can help you create a metaphor:

- Start with the most basic idea, the key concept for your product. That might be 'safe' or 'agile' or 'bright' or "well engineered". Then sketch or write ways to express that idea.

- Complete the sentence, creating a simile, "This brand, service or product is like ..."

- Fill in the blank: "The benefit to the consumer of this brand, product or service is like __________________"

Now see if you can remove the "is like" to form the metaphor.

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