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The Use of Metaphor in the Exploration of the Brand Concept

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The use of metaphor in research and in marketing is discussed. A typology is presented for the structure of the use of metaphor in understanding the brand concept. Three underpinning or 'root' metaphors are identified together with fourteen associated branch or sub-metaphors. The three root metaphors are: brand as differentiating mark, brand as person and brand as asset. A number of issues surrounding the use of metaphor in the literature on branding are identified. These include the mixing of metaphors and attempts to treat metaphors as if they are terms or constructs capable of separate definition, instead of devices by which we can understand more about the brand concept. Certain metaphors, such as brand loyalty, have become terms and have then taken on a separate meaning from the original entity they were meant to illuminate. An emergent root metaphor, brand as role, is identified as having potential to develop a broader understanding of the brand concept. A lifestage model is derived to explain how the role and use of individual metaphors evolves or changes over their life. Metaphors may pass through as many as four life stages: creation, when the metaphor is first used; a second stage in which the metaphor may become dormant; a life stage when the metaphor is at its most active; and a death stage when the metaphor becomes a term.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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