In Metaphors we live by, one of the fundamental books on figurative language, the two authors explain that metaphors not only make our thoughts more vivid and interesting, but they actually structure our perceptions and understanding. So what's the purpose of metaphorical speech in marketing communications and, more importantly, when and how should companies use it?

By Oana Baetica

Metaphors aren't just matters of language, they're used extensively in reasoning and understanding. Typically, an abstract domain can be understood by describing it using a metaphor that relates it to a more concrete domain. Thinking of marriage as a "contract agreement," for example, leads to one set of expectations, while thinking of it as "team play," "a negotiated settlement," "Russian roulette," "an indissoluble merger," or "a religious sacrament" will carry different sets of expectations.

Understanding and using figurative language can help copywriters convey their message easier and reach more readers. A punchy, witty first sentence will attract attention, so it is worth starting your articles or blog posts with a colourful metaphor.

Here are a few tips for copywriters looking for that elusive metaphor that will make their newsletter sparkle:

1. Rule number one: use with caution. Metaphors should only be used to clarify ideas that would otherwise be difficult to explain or understand. They can also be employed to communicate a benefit or to add emotional or persuasive impact.

2. Be strict with your choice of metaphors. The right simile can illustrate a key point, like a ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds - see what I did there? Using a mismatched metaphor will have the opposite effect and it can leave readers completely in the dark - I did it again, see?

3. We've all heard from fashion gurus that when it comes to accessories, less is more. Metaphors are very much like accessories that make your copy look good, but make sure you're not blinding your readers with too much cheap bling. As a good rule of thumb, try and use just a couple of strong metaphors to illustrate your point. 

4. Keep it simple. Don't elaborate on existing metaphors or mix them up - it never works. Having a blue skies meeting to touch base and get your ducks in a row is a bit of an overkill. Stick to a couple of good metaphors that enrich your text rather than weighing it down needlessly.

Finally, if you need some help with your creative writing, just ring one of the lovely copywriters at Stone Junction and let's get the ball rolling! OK, I'll stop here, but you all got the point. 

"Image courtesy of franky242 /".
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