One of several types of brand metaphors, the cultural brand metaphor derives its potency from references to cultural references shared by consumers. Of the different types of brand metaphors, this one has the most potential to slide into “theme-iness,” but when executed well, it can also be the most useful as a source of creativity and inspiration due to the richness (and ease of recognition) of the cultural icons from which they’re drawn.
Coke is an olive branch
In many of their campaigns over the years, Coca- Cola has used the brand metaphor of an olive branch, a symbol of peace dating from the 5th century BC in Greece, where it was associated with the goddess of peace, Eirene.
The symbol was later adopted in early Christianity, with St. Augustine writing that “perpetual peace is indicated by the olive branch which the dove brought with it when it returned to the ark.” While the symbol is rarely used literally anymore in contemporary contexts, the symbolic reference has remained part of Western culture to the present day.
Over the course of at least five decades, Coca-Cola has been using this brand metaphor to imply that the beverage has an almost magical ability to bring peace (either temporarily or permanently), between conflicting parties.
Apple liberates us from a dystopian future
Apple’s “1984” commercial introducing the Macintosh computer (developed by Chiat/ Day and directed by Ridley Scott) portrays an unnamed heroine saving humanity from conformity, borrowing elements of George Orwell’s famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell’s story describes an authoritarian future, where citizens are forced into obedience and indoctrinated by propaganda from the televised “Big Brother.”
Prior to previewing the commercial at the 1983 Apple Keynote address, Steve Jobs said, “It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all…. Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom.”
Their strong use of brand metaphor, extending and infusing it with their own ideas (making it unique from the novel that inspired it), resulted in this commercial being one of the most memorable and successful American television commercials of all time.