Forrest Gump

The Power of Metaphors and Similes

Metaphors and similes are extremely powerful rhetoric tools to communicate complex ideas, controversial information, or concepts that may be unfamiliar to the audience.

They also make excellent hooks to capture the attention of your audience by encapsulating what your idea, product, or service is all about.

Metaphors

Metaphors help the listener understand a subject by replacing it with something else. We use them often in the English language and the listener understands that they are not literally true.

Metaphors equate one idea to another: A is B.

They are effective because they are direct. They substitute one concept with another while allowing the listener to immediately draw a link.

A good metaphor is extremely memorable. Many brands even build their positioning around a metaphor. See if you can guess the following brands:

  • The king of beers.
  • The heartbeat of America.
  • … gives you wings.
  • The best a man can get.
  • Diamonds are forever.
  • Finger licking good.

That was easy, right? Just in case, the solution is at the end of this post.

Similes

Similes are similar to metaphors. They also equate two different concept, but in a less direct way: A is like B (because…)

Similes use the words like and as to make a comparison and sometimes require an additional explanation to get their meaning across.

An often quoted simile is Forrest Gump’s “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The explanation is needed for the comparison to make sense.

To exercise your own analogy-creating muscles, start with the above “Life is like…” and then replace “chocolate” with something else followed by an explanation. For example: Life is like a rose. Beautiful but it can sting from time to time.

Come up with four or five of your own similes for life and you will realize how easy it is to create interesting and humorous analogies. Then, repeat the exercise but replace the word “Life” with your product, idea, or concept.

Metaphors and similes are extremely powerful. Using them strategically in your presentations can be highly persuasive because they help the listener understand a concept with some degree of familiarity.


And here are the companies using the metaphors mentioned:

1) Budweiser, 2) Chevrolet, 3) Red Bull, 4) Gillette, 5) DeBeers, 6) KFC

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