Ever since I read the Atlantic article about the IARPA building software that analyses metaphors to search for potential terrorist activity, I’ve been thinking about all the different applications of this thinking to what we do. I was spurred into action by yesterday’ announcement that the traditional FDA food pyramid has been replaced by a more modern food plate.
The metaphoric shift here is quite clear – from “diets that are built” to “diets that are eaten". However there are some less obvious consequences that emerge from this change such as the loss of the hierarchy of foods like grains which used to occupy the base of the pyramid. Or the elimination of a mechanistic “builder” mindset towards the feeding of oneself and one’s family.
While subtle, these metaphors clearly shape behaviour in different ways, however beyond the terribly hackneyed television ad construction of using a metaphoric illustration and then ending the spot with “that’s sort of like (insert product)", I don’t think we use metaphors enough. Seems like they could be very interesting briefs for writing and design?
Sometimes metaphors are the essence of experience. They are crowdsourced over time. They are proven successful. They are evidence based.
At least, if they had time to grow over time.
Choose your metaphors well! They might be powerful!)
Adrian is founding partner of Zeus Jones a branding company believing actions speak louder than words and that modern brands are defined by what they do not what they say. He speaks (and writes) regularly about non-communications based models for marketing & branding. Twitter: @adrianho