In this era of loud advertising, how can an advertiser persuade his/her clients and create an impact through advertising? How can he get his potential clients to invest their time, energy and attention in grasping the message he is trying to convey through his advertisement?

In this blog, I will discuss some tactics to make your advertisement more attention seeking and impactful by incorporating:

i. Symbols

ii. The Metaphor Tool

iii)How to choose a symbol to present the product?

1. Symbols

One way to do this is by employing symbols that are connected to the message of the advertisement where there is a physical fusion between the symbol and the product or service being promoted.


Nivea devised a straightforward graphic, that has a lot of significance, to promote their night cream. It presents a half-opened can, exposing the cream inside the can. The cream resembles a half-moon which symbolizes ‘night’.


The tabasco bottle here has been represented as a fire extinguisher that is attached with a nozzle, pin, pressure gauge etc. It depicts how this small bottle can be extremely hot and spicy.


In this advertisement, Starbucks attempted to promote their seasonal coffees. Triple Starbucks cups have been lined up in a row. One would perceive the cream on top as a Christmas tree thus conveying the festive atmosphere and making customers understand the particularity of a product.

Use of such symbolic system in advertising can offer the advertiser dual advantage:

i)An advertisement based on a symbolic system will be sophisticated and thus require the viewer’s interpretation.

ii)Symbolic advertising creates an immediate cognitive effect. Since the advertisement relies on visually created connection between the symbol and the message, it is very effective

A symbol is a cognitive tool that simplifies the process of human information absorption, but at the same time, it also attempts to complicate and cloud the direct assimilation of objects and concepts. These symbols serve to economize a user’s mental storage space, so that it is easier to cope with the environmental stimulation.

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Interestingly, previous studies have concluded that advertisements with complex layouts and interpretations result in a more positive attitude and attention than advertisements with a stand-alone image. Once the potential client decodes the message, it increases their sense of pleasure and decreases their tension, further leading to the enhancement of the client’s attitude. Hence, a positive ad occurs when the advertisement is innovative, and the client is required to invest higher cognitive efforts.

Fusion is the act of creating a strong bond between the symbol and the product, so that they are perceived as one. Ads like these create a connection (visual), fusion, between the symbol and the product. The deeper the fusion between the components of a symbol and the product, the more easily an advertisement is likely to be remembered in the specific context of the product being advertised.

The product itself is used to create the symbol, just like in –


Burger King communicates with its audience through a symbol during easter. To advertise that the burger chain is open on Easter, they turned their burger to look like an egg thus representing Easter Sunday egg hunting.

Researchers have also indicated that successful fusion is when the bond is created between the product, symbol and the chosen message in the mind of the viewer. Intuitively, this process would necessarily increase “memorability” of the product and its message.


This can be accomplished by using certain graphic tactics. One possibility is to design the image of the symbol by exchanging one of its components with the texture of the product or with a graphic element identified with the product. For example,


Studies have indicated that walnuts are good for the brain, hence representing a walnut as a brain, the advertisement draws attention and is more effective. It makes the advertisement more appealing, logical and raises awareness.


The Red Bull advertisement is one of the most recognized and well-known advertising campaigns. They had spent approximately 15 million dollars in their campaign. The metaphor is their tagline- “Gives you wings”, the vehicle that drives the brand and has been linked to humor by its consumers. Red Bull’s first target audience were those who have long working hours, go for long drives, or study for long hours. With extreme sports and associating the beverage with those activities, Red Bull is trying to raise brand power. The message creates the image of confidence, positivity and energy. It attempts to make them believe that they can handle anything by reinforcing the idea of giving them wings.

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The new campaign of Heinz ketchup had devised the metaphor, “No-one grows ketchup like Heinz ” This attempts to create an image that Heinz is healthy with no added preservatives, just one ingredient – fresh tomatoes. Additionally, the structure of the bottle is in the form of cut tomatoes further indicating usage of real and fresh tomatoes. This award-winning campaign utilizes a metaphor that is strong, straightforward and easy to process. Unlike Redbull, which utilized humor to advertise, Heinz associates freshness of picked tomatoes with their brand.

2. The Metaphor Tool

Some symbols can be clear and simple, but sometimes, when designers want to make a strong impact and send the message in the most creative way, they can employ metaphors. Metaphor is a figure of speech that associates two dissimilar things based on a feature/characteristic they have in common. For example, an eagle and a car are two completely different things, but one feature that they have in common is speed.

Even though their physical appearance differs, it is vital to consider other modalities that cannot be perceived by our five senses. There are various subconscious elements that evoke emotions and influence the user’s buying decisions.

For instance, even though the car can be seen, felt and driven, there are other facets that determine how we perceive it, such as feelings of power, security, or freedom. These facets are not part of the actual structure of the car but they subconsciously draw the user’s attention to the vehicle.

Metaphors allow advertisers to deviate from what would be expected. Zaltman posits that metaphors play a critical role in cognition – ways of thinking, representing, and knowing. Potential users also get a chance to interpret the advertisement in their own way, which enhances interactivity and engagement.

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For example,

Many automobile agencies include a horse in their logo. The symbol of a horse is indicative of power, strength, speed, agility and stamina. We can identify the logos of Ferrari, Porsche, Ford Mustang, Eicher, Pegaso, Kamaz and many other organization with the horse logo.



Nokia used the metaphor “Connecting people” to convey the image of connecting people with their phones instead of having a conversation. This not only taps into the conversational aspect but also considers emotional connection with the person that is enhanced by the phone’s value.


Pedigree, the dog food has a perfect shape and resembles that of a joystick. It also satisfies the dog’s need and motivates it to follow the owner’s instructions. Hence, presenting the product in such a way grabs attention.

3. How to choose a symbol to present the product?

The more closely connected a chosen symbol is to the message or tone of the product, the more impactful the advertisement will be. If the chosen symbol does not connect to the product represented but to an exterior component, the customer may not connect the advertisement with the specific brand. Hence, if the chosen message is “efficiency”, we can select a few cultural symbols that represent the value:


  •  An ant
  •  A super computer
  •  Japanese people
  •  A swiss clock

If the message is “resilience”, we can list:


  •  Helix
  •  Plum blossom
  •  Semicolon
  •  Koi fish

If the message is “trust”, we can list:


  •  Rope knots
  •  Chain links
  •  Wax seals
  •  Keys

If the message is “growth”, we can list:

  •  Wooden blocks
  •  Spring
  •  Arrows
  •  Graphs

If the message is “cleanliness”, we can list:


  •  Snow
  •  Colour white
  •  Water flowing from spring
  •  Transparency


The metaphor tool is one of the most widely used in the creative department’s toolbox. The strength of symbols and metaphors come from the simplicity and ease of application for every type of product, service or message to be marketed. The three-pronged process that creates fusion between the product, symbol, and the message creates a memorable and unconventional advertisement with an immediate effect. #livehyd #hydnews

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.