Leveraging Visual Metaphors For A Better User Experience

Did you know you have just 50 milliseconds to make a strong first impression on your audience? In other words, less than the reaction speed of a gamer pressing a button on his console. 

This could be the underlying reason why some ads go viral, while others may simply end up as just another extra component in your business’s monthly budget.

Want to create ads that have the potential to go viral? Then you need novel concepts like visual metaphors. Concepts like these help you cut through the noise. In this blog, we’ll tell you what visual metaphors are and how to use them in marketing.

The Secret Sauce in Creating Ads That Make an Impact

As a business owner, you will know that there are “ads that sell” and there are “ads that make an impact”. With the former, you have the assurance that a sale would happen, but with the latter, you get to strengthen your brand identity. 

Ads that make an impact are those that truly focus on customer retention. Which would be vital to the long-term growth of any business. 

Impactful ads tend to survive beyond the first 50ms “first impression” window. Such ads are only possible if you understand your customer’s emotions beyond their shopping behavior. And to create such ads that retain customer focus for a longer duration, there seems to be one main type of visual aid that several businesses rely on –  Visual Metaphor

You might have noticed visual metaphors everywhere. Have you noticed how some ads are etched in your memory? You remember them years after you first encounter them. Visual metaphors have that impact on the viewers. 

In the words of American writer Orson Scott Card, 

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space”. 

Conveying a powerful message in the smallest of spaces, now that’s every marketer’s dream, isn’t it? So, let’s see how you can use metaphors in almost all types of marketing designs like social media images, videos, carousel ads, and display ads. 

But First, What Exactly Is a Visual Metaphor?

A visual metaphor is where you draw analogies between the subjects on the screen to a deeper meaning. For instance, there are visual cues that connect with the audience at an emotional level. Some of these metaphors may get you to feel nostalgic by triggering an old memory. And others make you laugh the moment you get the satire in it. 

In short, it is all about playing with perspectives. Some may prefer the use of spatial interpretations. While others might rely on the use of fonts, and stylizing of the subjects in the image. You can also add your personal flair with the creative use of negative spaces or their absence thereof. With all this, you can create multiple layers of impact within your designs. 

All types of businesses can benefit from the use of visual metaphors in their display advertising. This includes startups looking to create strong marketing strategies and traditional businesses looking for ways to revamp their processes and make themselves visible again. 

Visual metaphors are so effective that they find common ground even in the world of art and films visual metaphors in art and in films

In the crowded space of digital display advertisements, it is imperative that you make ads that actually establish a connection with the audience. This is where a visual metaphor can do wonders. 

Reasons Why Visual Metaphors Actually Work 

So, you might be asking yourself, “is it really worth breaking your head to come up with a groundbreaking visual metaphor?” Absolutely. 

Here are a few compelling reasons why you should give visual metaphors a try. 

1. Convey the Incomprehensible 

Some ads and concepts are vague when you try to convey them in a straightforward manner. 

Take a look at this ad for example.

In the above example, the concept was to portray how olive oil helps in creating a balance in life by maintaining heart health. Conveying this without the metaphor would have been quite confusing. So, the designer here draws a parallel between the air bubble in the bottle and a spirit level used to check a balance. 

Sometimes, a direct portrayal might not leave a lasting impact after all. In the very same olive oil example, a simple bottle of olive oil would not have been any different from other similar ads out there. But by incorporating the visual metaphor, the brand conveyed a deeper message.  That’s how you create ads that make an impact. 

Kimp Tip: From symbols to illustrations, and other visual elements, there are several entities that can be creatively used to simplify the message conveyed. But remember, there is a thin line between ‘metaphor’ and ‘abstract’. You might not want to create something that your target audience does not resonate with or understand after all. 

Wondering how to create unique ads that are also easy to understand? Set up a call with the Kimp team and find out about ad designs in Kimp Graphics. 

2. Make scroll-stopping ads 

There was a time when businesses struggled to get their ads printed within the 40-page scope of a daily newspaper. Not to forget, these ads were expensive too. But today anyone can create an ad. And even run a campaign in just a few simple clicks. 

But let’s not forget that internet users come across thousands of ads every single day. So, how do you get your ad to be noticed in such a large concentrated market of ads? You must understand that the same boring concept will not work any longer. 

That’s why you need scroll-stopping ads like the one below. 

Designed by Kimp

Customers are always looking for something new. Your target audience is more likely to stop and take a second look if your ad contains a strong visual metaphor that can captivate their attention. And this could be a real game-changer for your business 

3. You strike an emotional chord 

The emotional quotient or tone that a business sets is a commonly overlooked factor. As a business owner or marketer trying to communicate better with your customers, do you want them to make a one-time purchase? Or do you want them to choose your business as the go-to option for their requirements? 

Ads that connect with the customers’ emotions would be ads that help in establishing customer loyalty. These would be ads that help in your branding and have a better “memorability” towards your brand. 

If you create visual marketing elements that have a strong visual metaphor your customer will end up thinking about your business every time they see something related to the ad. This is the kind of connection that every marketer struggles to achieve. Nail this converted concept of weaving emotions with your business. 

That’s when your customers will become the strongest champions of propelling your business. Because now they relate with you. And as we can all agree, what we can relate with, stays positioned longer in our minds.

4. Better Engagement leads to better Conversions 

When you use visual metaphors that move your viewers emotionally or play with their memories the engagement rates are higher. When your ad moves your customers, it creates a strong customer experience. 

Another strong trait of a visual metaphor is that it has the power to persuade the audience to buy your products/services. Visual metaphors have their way of influencing buying behavior of customers. 

When the viewer is drawn to your ad because of the masked meaning in it, the viewer would be likely to spend some time double-checking the meaning conveyed. And getting the message gives a sense of accomplishment to the viewer and this works positively for your brand. 

Such levels of engagement can be great for your campaigns. So, if you are looking to create ads that convert, try using visual metaphors

Kimp Tip: Ads of all types designed for all platforms can get a fresh new look with the use of visual metaphors. Your ad design should convey the message clearly and powerfully. That’s when your customers will be motivated to interact with it. 

Struggling to come up with innovative ad concepts? Sign up for Kimp’s graphic design subscription and enjoy better conversions through strong ads. 

5. You gain a Competitive Advantage 

One of the biggest advantages of using a strong visual perception strategy in your ads would be the benefit of getting noticed in the crowd. 

Your competitors might all be conveying “the evident” perception of their product or services in their ads. So, when you choose to flex your creative muscles and provide your audience with a stronger portrayal of the concept, they become more familiar with your brand. 

With this, your customers will return to you, for future purchases as well. Because with Visual metaphors, you have struck a unique chord that resonates with them. 

With visual metaphors, you can tell a story that none of your other competitors have managed to tell through their ads. This could well be a story that tells your audience why your products or services are exactly what they have been looking for. 

With all that said, you should also know that visual metaphors are often easy to come up with. All it takes is a little understanding of your customers’ interests and the strengths of your products or services or what makes them better.

Visual Metaphors Vs. Metonymy 

Visual metaphor and metonymy are two seemingly very similar concepts, but there are subtle differences. And both these visual stimulations are used in ads. 

A visual metaphor is when you draw a parallel with the product or service being advertised. Most of the time, you might find subtle flavors of the actual subject in a visual metaphor. 

However, in metonymy, you pick one or more traits that define the product or service and then convey it with the use of relevant symbols. Sometimes, in ads based on metonymy, you do not even see the actual product being advertised. This is useful when you want to focus on one particular product/service USP that you are promoting. 

Source: Ads of the World

Kimp Tip: Visual metaphors work with customers who know your brand as well as those who do not. But metonymy works better with customers who already know your brand. For better results, try to incorporate both. 

Want to know how to use them both in your ads? Try Kimp Graphics for your ad designs. 

Visual Metaphors and Gestalt Principles for Logo Designs and More 

While battling for the prime spot out there, the best way to create ads for your audience would be to play with visual perception. Visual metaphors can be used with absolute freedom in almost all kinds of volatile graphic design applications like display ads, video ads, and others that are short-lived. However, when it comes to using this for something more long-term, like logos, you should be extra cautious. 

Gestalt principles of continuity are crucial in design. They focus on the human brain’s preference for patterns. Have you seen how some shapes on their own have no concrete meaning but when you group them in a particular pattern you can convey something stunning? And that’s what the Gestalt Principle covers. 

The Gestalt principle in its many forms focuses on the human brain’s ability to form patterns based on shapes, colors, and other visual traits. This aims at creating familiarity in design. And thus creates a better user experience. It comes in handy especially when you are focusing on a UI design or website design. Or even the aesthetics for your social media pages. 

So, if you are looking to design a creative logo that strengthens your brand image, try to incorporate a visual metaphor without breaking Gestalt’s principles of continuity. 

This is the secret to creating an evergreen logo that gives your brand a competitive advantage. 

Challenges You Might Face 

Now that you know metaphors work in many ways to the benefit of your brand, are you ready to explore the concept? There are a few challenges you might face along the way. Knowing them makes dealing with them simpler. 

Here are some pitfalls to avoid. 

  • By focusing too much on keeping the meaning hidden if you create something that is hard for the end-user to understand, the ad space you earn will be of no use. Instead, keep it simple. Like the metaphor of a rocket for the website launch in the ad below. 
Designed by Kimp
  • Misinterpretations are likely to occur. This is particularly the case when you do not have a clear understanding of what your customers or target audiences are looking for. An ad that conveys the wrong meaning can be detrimental to your brand image. To overcome this, use copy to support your design. This will ensure that customers get the message right. 
Designed by Kimp

So, you know that metaphors are worth a shot. And you also know the challenges you might face and how to avoid them. Inspired to give this a try? Here are some applications you should know about. 

Practical Applications of Visual Metaphors 

If you look at a trash can symbol on any page or even the settings tab in any mobile app, you automatically know that this would be the “delete” function in the interface. This is the perfect example of using simple metaphors to convey your message without the likely usage of words. You can use visual metaphors to create ads for every stage of the buyer’s journey

  • When you use visual metaphors in graphics design, you talk to your audience without using words or sounds. You can use this concept in email designs and even small banner ads. This can be a fresh new concept and can be the start to that strong first impression. And thus converts a potential lead to an actual customer. It is particularly useful for startups looking to expand their visibility. 
  • When you use visual metaphors you give your audience a new way to look at your products. You can use them to target existing customers and remind them to come back and look for more. 
  • Another very good application of visual metaphors would be in short-lived promotions like on Instagram stories. In those brief few seconds that your ad flashes on your customer’s screens, you manage to grab their attention through the use of smart and savvy visual metaphors. 
  • By using a visual metaphor in your brand’s logo, you establish your business’s unique personality. A brand selling luxury fashion goods would stick with classy metaphors that somehow represent luxury. One that is targeting the youth might use a light-hearted comical metaphor in their logos. 

Leverage the power of visual metaphors for impactful visuals with Kimp Graphics 

Neuromarketing is already here. Gone are the days when you could make ads merely when you had your customers’ basic details like their name and email id. You now need to focus on the finer points of marketing like their shopping behavior. And you need bespoke content that covers all these aspects. If you need help with integrating such brilliant concepts into ads but do not know where to begin, try a Kimp Graphics subscription. 

Start your free trial today and revamp your marketing campaigns.