The power of a metaphor

The power of a metaphor

This is an introductory text to the book Symbols and Trademarks of Canada published in 1997, written by Kosta Tsetsekas

In the course of my practice, I'm often asked to explain the concept of graphic symbols to others. Occasionally, an example from outside the visual realm provides an especially strong metaphor. Take the following example from The Independent Senior.

"If we could shrink the Earth's population to the equivalent of a village of 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look like this:

  • 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from North and South America, eight Africans.
  • 70 non-whites, 30 whites.
  • 50 percent of the wealth would be in the hands of six people - all of these would be citizens of the US.
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition.
  • 80 would live in substandard housing.
  • 70 would be unable to read.
  • One would have a university education

This example creates a powerful image or "snapshot" of the world in which we live. A graphic symbol also works to encapsulate a message by reducing or distilling it to a few essential elements. The most successful symbols go further to amplify key messages through this process of eliminating secondary or conflicting information.

We also know that in a media savvy society, cluttered with a barrage of information, only the most memorable symbols survive. Successful designers not only create new imagery, but adapt familiar forms in ways that compel us to look at them in a new light or with a fresh eye.

[The outstanding design in this book] offer a cogent statement, employing an elegant technical solution that doesn't waste a line. This, coupled with a novel visual approach, most frequently results in easily understood and memorable communication.

If you want to use get into brand strategy, visit our resources page, it provides you a free PDF guide to learn it—and perhaps use it in your next project, adding value to your services, or by our book which is a step by step guide to branding 👇

How a brand turns into visual identity

Ready to elevate your design strategy? Get this must-have book in ebook or print format. Packed with practical advice, it’s your roadmap to becoming an elite designer who thinks strategically and builds unforgettable brands.

Grab your copy now

Subscribe to Peter Sher -

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.