How the Right Metaphor Generates an Immediate “Aha”

Being that I’m a less is more person, I’m continually looking for the right metaphor to integrate in my writing as a short cut to understanding.

That’s what metaphors do — relate something your audiences don’t know or understand to something they are familiar with. It’s one of the most reliable techniques there is (as long as you know your audiences well enough to be confident that they’ll get it — the same criterion goes for using humor in your communications).

Metaphors are a simple and proven way to build connection with your target audiences. And they frequently deliver a bonus — many metaphors are highly-visual and greatly enliven plain vanilla content to make it much more memorable.

Here’s a great metaphor model shared by Mary Beth Lambert, a participant in the recent Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop held in Seattle. Mary Beth participated on behalf of The, the program she markets for the Washington Scholarship Coalition.

A program name like that raises so many questions: It is related to clean laundry, highly-developed abs or what? But Mary Beth clarified The’s focus and impact in a second with this metaphor: “It’s the E-Harmony for scholarship students.”

This metaphor enables us to immediately understand that the program makes matches between students seeking scholarships and scholarship providers. The imagery is still fresh in my mind!

What metaphors have you used that generated an “aha?” And which ones have fallen flat, and why? Please share your metaphor experiences here.

P.S. Learn more on how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the Getting Attention Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages | 2 comments
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