Analogies and metaphors – heroin for the subconscious

Imagination love analogies. Saying something without saying it out loud is like a drug for the brain that pushes our biological buttons and creates attention. And in a world where we are exposed to as many as 5,000 advertising messages per day, genuine attention is gold.

The brain hates linear thinking

It is the same thing with metaphors. The English author Tony Buzan writes that the brain hates linear thinking and classification because it is boring. And if the brain gets bored, it will come up with something else to do or fall asleep. Metaphors break the pattern and give the brain a challenge, a reason to focus.

Getting the brains attention

In all communication we create, we are trying to gain brains attention in one way or another. I think that the reason why creativity work so good for creating that focus is its ability to break linear patterns; an original thought stimulates the mind, makes it react. Therefore it can often be an effective approach to leave some things in a message to the receiver’s imagination.

The brain is self-centered

Because when the brain has to work to understand, it becomes active. And when it is active it has the potential of creating a context around the core story. The user takes mental ownership of the idea because she, at least partially, is a co-creator of the idea. And although people may like stuff that others have created they tend to love their own creations more. Dan Ariely tested this hypothesis in his splendid book “Predictably Irrationality” and came to the conclusion that people value things that they have made higher than other would value the same object. And it is the same things with ideas.

It´s in our nature

Because analogies and metaphors tend to do that; they attract our subconscious so that we can’t avoid thinking of it. Doing so would be against our own nature – we need to understand, because if we don’t we might miss something important. And back in the days, that might have meant getting eaten by a giant tiger.

Different worldviews

Analogues and metaphors create opportunities to describe your message in a more colorful way, but they also make it easier to explain something unfamiliar to a specific target group. By creating a metaphor that have a certain meaning to your targets worldview you can create associations that benefit your communications goal in a more understandable and clear way.

Provide a framework but let your target group paint

If you paint the world for someone, she will still filter that world through her own thoughts and experiences. But if you give the same person a framework and let her paint the world herself, she will enforce the core of the framework with her own imagination. And that is when you have created a subconscious communication machine that makes your target group take ownership of your message and make it theirs. 

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