Dec 3, 2021
You are familiar with
metaphors...you likely learned about them in elementary school. But
do you know how important they are in your
Well, it turns out that
metaphors are way more important in understanding the mind of your
consumer than you could have possibly imagined. There are two
associates from the firm Olson Zaltman here today to share the
power of metaphors and how they use them in their Zaltman Metaphor
Elicitation Technique (ZMET) process. The ZMET was created by Dr.
Gerald Zaltman at the Harvard Business School in the 1990s and is
still incredibly relevant for brands today.
During the conversation, Malcolm
and Hannibal Brooks will share how they have used the ZMET for
brands like Harvard, Tropicana, a funeral company, and more. Plus,
insights into the 16 deep metaphors they work with at Olson Zaltman
and why they matter for all companies who want to appeal to their
customers (i.e. everyone!).
- [00:06] In today’s episode we
are digging deep into the power of metaphors with two associates of
- [02:53] Malcolm and Hannibal
share about themselves, their background, and how as twins they
ended up in the same field and working together.
- [03:44] They both graduated
with degrees in food science and went to a master’s program focused
on marketing, management, and consumer
- [05:57] At Olson Zaltman, they
do research that is focused on understanding the unconscious
through metaphor. Their process is focused on using imagery and
verbal metaphors to understand emotions.
- [06:40] We think in images, not
in words; metaphors are our way of describing the
- [09:28] Metaphors really affect
the way we perceive the world around us.
- [11:04] Part of what makes
these metaphors universal is that a lot of them originate in the
experiences we have in life that exist before we can even
- [12:25] There are 16 deep
metaphors that define our experience.
- [14:48] Different groups of
consumers might have different metaphors or understandings of a
product or service.
- [15:24] For women, clothing is
a form of self-expression and freedom. For men, clothing is
often about a form of control.
- [18:12] They share examples of
the types of business problems they are solving.
- [19:42] With ZMET they want to
understand with your particular consumers, are they getting
something out of your product and your brand?
- [22:44] Prior to the ZMET
process the business only needs to know the problem that they are
- [25:08] The ZMET process can
help answer a lot of questions for businesses.
- [25:57] They share their
findings from a case study with Harvard.
- [28:17] Helping to trigger the
unity piece can be very valuable (as was the case for Harvard).
They have found that there are core principles that they stumble
upon time and time again.
- [31:12] Deep 1-on-1 guided
conversations help them unpack what is the best way for the
business to move forward.
- [33:20] You want to understand
your brand’s core assets and what fits with the mindset people have
- [36:19] One of their most fun
cases to talk about is the research they did for the Funeral
Service Foundation. They found that people would look at their
funeral almost as a performance. People don’t want to be remembered
in a way that is sad. They want to be remembered for who they were,
with a celebration.
- [38:57] Their recommendations
included creating this online experience that is more fun,
including the most fun things about the person and how they want to
be remembered. It gets people thinking and talking about their
death while they are still alive by making it less
- [41:33] Their real work is
understanding stories and connecting with
- [42:23] Melina shares her
- [44:28] Shop at The Brainy Business shop
for that perfect brainy
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