The Metaphor Effect describes the way in which our brains react to metaphors, meaning language formulas that describe something through likening it to something similar, often something that arouses an associated image. “To have a heart of stone” is one such metaphor in which the stone represents a hard and cold element, qualities that translate as lacking feeling or empathy when applied to the heart. The Metaphor Effect is the way in which we tend to understand and remember more easily such metaphorical language as it activates our imagination.
Metaphors engage the right hemisphere of the brain, which controls our mental imagery (the same function that allows us to dream). The images created are more easily understood and more memorable than simple literal language. Literal language appeals to only a small fraction of the way in which our brain makes sense of the world around us. The other senses and emotions it makes use of are activated by metaphorical language, going beyond the literal sense of a phrase in to the realm of imagery and more abstract concepts. Like all analogies, metaphors help us to understand more complex ideas and enrich the meaning of language used.
Metaphorical language is therefore a compelling form of communication that allows you, in certain cases, to better convey your message. If a metaphor can help transmit imagery and emotion, your reader is likely to have their attention drawn more quickly and to retain the information much better and, in fact, people are much more likely to connect and engage with something that touches them emotionally (the Attentional Bias).
In web marketing, the use of metaphors can greatly help to improve the quality of content on your site in order that it may attract the attention of your visitors as well as stay in their memories for longer. When we’re on the internet, our senses are more limited than they are in real life so using metaphorical language can help to stimulate a wider range of senses and emotions – especially important when attempting to convey more abstract ideas. It can also upset the rational balance of your customers, placing emphasis instead on their imagination and emotions, which are much more receptive to new ideas and persuasion.