Brand metaphors: a simple and powerful framework

Brand metaphors and brand archetypes are cognitive shortcuts that convey a brand’s values and attributes by evoking psychological or cultural triggers, creating the emotional experiences consumers are looking for in the most effective way possible.

Consumers are motivated by three higher needs: affiliationaspiration, and identity. Too many campaigns fail because they focus on selling features or benefits—or, worse, mere “memorability”—instead of fulfilling these higher needs for consumers.

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Download our brand metaphors PDF. This free PDF download includes:

  • How brand metaphors work
  • Why consumers embrace brand metaphors
  • Why most branding campaigns fail
  • Examples of well-known companies using metaphor-driven branding
  • The difference between a brand metaphor and a theme
  • The three types of brand metaphors (deep, archetypal, and cultural)
  • What is a brand archetype?
  • What makes an effective brand metaphor
  • …and more.

Brand metaphors and brand archetypes are difficult to develop, but the end product (when done right) is nothing short of transformative to the businesses that understand and embrace them. For many business owners, the brand metaphor or brand archetype represents the first time they’ve really understood what their business is about—and often it’s a surprise!

Excerpt: “Harley Davidson (The Maverick)”

This quintessential American brand is built around the Maverick archetype, which personifies a willingness to defy (or destroy) social conventions and challenge “normal” behavior.

As the Harley Davidson brand came to be associated with outlaw behavior (thanks to movies and press coverage of rebellious bikers gangs), their motorcycles allowed people to escape from their routine lives.

The ride came to symbolize leaving it all behind and forging a new path. While most customers didn’t literally make this change in their lives, their participation in the brand helped them find a healthy balance with the responsibilities in other areas of their life.