Prime Examples of Visual Metaphors Used in Creative Advertising

/ September 21, 2021

The word metaphor is a figure of speech that represents a thing or person with something symbolic. On the other hand, a visual metaphor in advertising pertains to graphics that associate a thing or person via similar characteristics. It’s primarily abstract. However, due to its similarity with the thing or person, the audience can grasp the familiarity of the imagery. 

In advertising, visual metaphors are an excellent way to create visual interest. This opens up new realms in the world of marketing that can engage the audience. Use visual metaphor in your next advertising campaign — just like these 20 popular brands. 

1. Braun

visual metaphor advertising example

Braun is known for a wide product range of epilators, razors, and products for your hair grooming and removal needs. Well, Braun sure knows how to symbolize hair by replacing it with noodles. 

Featuring their hair straightener product, Braun banked on visual metaphor to show how it does the trick. The hair iron shows how it straightens the noodles from their curled up form inside the packaging. It shows that Braun products can straighten even the curliest hair.

2. Tabasco

visual metaphor advertising example

At first glance, you’ll notice the small Tabasco bottle. But as you look at the image’s entirety, you can see that there’s a hose, nozzle, pin, and pressure gauge attached to it. The entire visual displays a fire extinguisher. 

This visual metaphor from Tabasco depicts how this small bottle can be extremely hot. The fire extinguisher illustrates how one might need it to put out the “fire,” or in other words, if they can’t handle the heat. 

3. Nivea

visual metaphor advertising example

This is a straightforward graphic that has a lot of significance behind it. It doesn’t take rocket science to create something brilliant. And Nivea knows how to play it cool with simplicity. 

Promoting their night cream, Nivea presents a half-opened bottle, exposing the cream inside the can. However, the cream resembles a half-moon, which symbolizes “night.” A brilliant way to represent the brand’s product. 

4. Volkswagen Beetle Denim

visual metaphor advertising example

Motorists were in for a treat as Volkswagen released their Beetle Denim models. These vehicles feature unique accents and interiors not found in any regular Beetle. The interior features light blue denim seating and jeans-inspired backseat pockets. 

And what better way to promote this unique design than to show the material with prominent yellow seams. The seams remind you of the dashed lines that you see in the middle of the road. Volkswagen paints a picture in viewers’ minds about taking their new Beetle on a long drive. 

5. BusConnects

visual metaphor advertising example

BusConnects is a program that helps Irish cities improve bus services and make public transport sustainable. This propaganda is for a cleaner and greener Dublin. But why use a Rubik’s Cube? 

As you know, a Rubik’s Cube is solved when all colors are placed on one side of the cube. And it would take good analysis and strategy to achieve it. BusConnects shows that achieving a cleaner and greener city would need the people’s collective effort. 

6. Save the Children

visual metaphor advertising example

Save the Children features an impactful visual metaphor with this design. For their anti-violence campaign, they advocate how abusive parents could lead children to alcohol addiction.

The imagery shows a child encapsulated in a tree’s “root.” But the tree is represented by a woman, which is seemingly the mother. Overall, the graphics symbolize that every bad experience is ingrained in every child since the early stages — just like a seed. 

7. Tropicana

visual metaphor advertising example

Tropicana is your go-to brand when you’re craving orange juice. Orange juice can be a good addition to a meal or a great refreshment during a sunny afternoon. But Tropicana claims orange juice is more than just orange juice. 

The brand wants consumers to ensure their daily intake of orange juice because it’s a complete breakfast. And the brand plays a clever visual metaphor by shaping an orange into a toast to resemble breakfast. Plus, Tropicana implies that the meal will be complete with a drink of their tasty orange juice.

8. Burger King

visual metaphor advertising example

Burger King communicates with its audience through a visual metaphor during Easter. Since the hamburger fast-food chain is open during Easter, they turned their burger to look like an egg. A perfect representation of the traditional Easter Sunday egg hunting. 

9. McDonald’s

visual metaphor advertising example

Here’s another example of a visual metaphor in advertising that banks on simplicity. McDonald’s is known for its innovative advertising designs, and this one is no exception. 

To show consumers that the fast-food giant is open 24/7, they showcase nocturnal animals with their eyes shining brightly. However, they’re not an ordinary set of eyes. The eyes are the McDonald’s logo split in half. This is an ideal way to promote your offer while staying on brand. 

10. World Wildlife Fund

visual metaphor advertising example

WWF leaves no stone unturned in protecting voiceless animals. More often than not, they do it through thought-provoking and compelling marketing designs. WWF is known for its unorthodox visuals in advertising. 

Take this Jenga advertisement, for example. WWF compares the ecosystem to Jenga. As you know, Jenga is a game where you pull one block carefully to not knock down the entire structure. But this is a challenge in the game of Jenga. WWF shows how the ecosystem will come crashing down when a species of animals is eliminated. 

11. Nokia

visual metaphor advertising example

Although it has been kicked out of the spotlight, Nokia reinvented visual metaphor in advertising during its prime days. And this particular one is a perfect example!

With a wide range of mobile phone models, Nokia relaunched a specific one solely focused on music. It was Nokia’s relaunch of the XpressMusic phone. The mobile phone company claimed that it was like having all your favorite tunes in the palm of your hands. And what better way to depict that visually than by putting a small guitar in the palm of someone’s hand. 

12. Diniz

visual metaphor advertising example
visual metaphor advertising example
visual metaphor advertising example

Double meanings are also an excellent way to engage your audience’s minds and encourage fun at the same time. It’s an outstanding achievement when you can convey two different concepts in one imagery. And Diniz achieved that through their eyewear collection promotion. 

Launching their summer eyewear pieces, Diniz used tropical fruits and shaped them into sunglasses. The fruits represent how timely the sunglasses are for the sunny weather. Plus, the fruits’ shadows are also shaped according to every eyewear piece.

13. Jordan Insurance Company

visual metaphor advertising example

Visual metaphor in marketing is both bizarre yet captivating. And you’ll know if you’ve achieved success if you’ve stimulated the minds of your viewers. Here’s one example from the Jordan Insurance Company that’s both bizarre and captivating. 

Viewers might not get the ad’s concept at first glance. But you need to look at it hard enough to understand the message it communicates. It means wearing a helmet for safety is the smartest thing to do. But some motorists are too complacent about not locking the helmet securely. This ad means if you don’t lock the helmet straps, the helmet serves no purpose to protect your head.

14. Tic Tac

visual metaphor advertising example

Another clever marketing design from the famous candy brand Tic Tac. There might not be a lot going on in this visual, but the message is there. It means that you’re never too sure as to when special moments happen. 

That’s why you should always carry your Tic Tac container with you because you’ll never know when someone’s going to lean in and kiss you! And that’s not all, the negative space in the middle of the lips is also shaped like a Tic Tac candy. 

15. United Nations

visual metaphor advertising example

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the normal that people were once used to. We now have to keep our distance and practice safety measures by washing our hands. The less interaction we have with other people, the lower chances of contracting the deadly virus. 

The United Nations wants to remind people to keep their distance while poking fun at their audience and keeping the imagery lighthearted. They released a series of designs with simple images of two things. These two things, when put together, could lead to distraction or damage. Here’s an example of a cactus and a balloon. You know what happens next when both things are kept in close proximity to each other. 

16. First Call

visual metaphor advertising example

Emotional marketing is also essential in creating advertisements that tug on people’s heartstrings. Moreover, making your visual metaphor a little bit dramatic can also help in conveying your message. 

Here’s one campaign from First Call, an addiction and recovery hotline. As you know, pills can be detrimental to your health over time. First Call fused the pillbox and its message on how people shouldn’t be reliant on pills. The coffins on every box daily remind people that they could be vulnerable every day. 

17. Floslek

visual metaphor advertising example

Another figure of speech that can also be used in visual metaphor advertising is hyperbole. Hyperbole means exaggerating a person or thing and making it seem bigger or better. Floslek is a sunblock brand that magnifies the imagery in this particular example. 

They placed the colossal sunblock behind beachgoers to show that it protects their skin from the heat of the sun. Plus, they situated it along the beach to show that the sunblock is water-resistant. 

18. IKEA

visual metaphor advertising example

People who are constantly moving from one home to another could be living “in a box.” While it’s okay to make your life fit in a box, as not all people have the luxury to buy new stuff, IKEA reminds people that these same people can experience something unique. 

IKEA tells homeowners to “Unbox your life” by buying from this ready-to-assemble and affordable furniture brand. The ad shows a simple contrast between other habitants seemingly living a dull and boxed life. The colors symbolize IKEA’s way of making your life more fun and exciting. 

19. TriHonda

visual metaphor advertising example

You must also try to bank on copy to create compelling ads that make people think. TriHonda has a lovely message for drivers to never be on their phones while driving. In this ad, you’ll see the words “GIRL” and “EMAIL” combined in one line with different colors.

At first glance, you can’t really see both words. This signifies that you can’t check your phone while noticing a girl crossing the street when you’re driving. And this could lead to disaster. So TriHonda reminds drivers to either stop the vehicle when they check their phone or focus on the road.

20. Thinx

visual metaphor advertising example

Thinx is a brand that sells underwear for women with periods. If you’re not able to represent your product literally, using symbols is an excellent way to get your message across. Thinx achieved this by using the half-peeled grapefruit as a symbol of a vagina. 

The red color underneath it is also a symbol of menstruation. The image of a woman in her underwear is also a nice touch to fuse the imagery. Thinx delivered its message with elegance and creativity. 

Conclusion

Visual metaphor in advertising is becoming common in brands’ marketing campaigns. Not only are visual metaphors unique, but they also drive more engagement due to their unusual and beautiful nature. 

But visual metaphors in marketing aren’t easy to deliver. You’d need the help of professional graphic designers for that. Subscribe to Penji for all your advertising designs that are creative and as bizarre as these 20 ads. Subscribe now to get a 15-day money-back guarantee or a 15-percent discount. 

Updated September 21, 2021

About the author

Karen is a Content Writer and successful Entrepreneur. She has helped various startups increase their search engine rankings through valuable content. Her ultimate passion in life is surfing, and she gets her writing inspiration from the ocean.

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