Promote Brand Attributes with Mindful Metaphors

“Answer as quickly as possible the first word that occurs to your mind.”


This simple line was what famous psychiatrist, Carl Jung, used when giving instructions to subjects during a landmark research study on how association affects thought processes. It is also a good line to use when you select promotional products.


Branded promotional products often serve as metaphors for brand attributes and benefits. When a product is associated with a metaphor, it reminds the buyer of a product or brand’s attributes. For example:

  • An umbrella communicates, “We’ve got you covered.”
  • A piggy bank implies the creation of savings.
  • Stopwatches get customers to think about saving time.


Branded promotional products work as mnemonic devices in two ways. First, the existence of a physical object imprinted with your brand reminds potential buyers that you exist.  Second, easy associations between a promotional product and a benefit ensure the buyer links your company with the benefit when the buyer is ready to purchase.


The next time you choose promotional products, consider how you can, literally or metaphorically, associate your give-away with branding characteristics, attributes, or benefits through word association. Start by answering these questions:

  • What concepts do you want people to think about with your event, service, or product?
  • What do you want to emphasize at a particular event?
  • What products might tie into those attributes or remind people of them metaphorically?


When discussing links between association and memory, Jung said, “It is known that emotionally accentuated things are better retained in memory than indifferent things.”2 The best associations build on emotions, such as avoiding a pain point or linking to a potential customer’s aspirations.


Branded promotional products are a great way to keep your brand in front of potential customers. When they broadcast a benefit along with your logo, the influencing effect multiplies. The next time you select a promotional product, see if you can find a metaphor or association to create a deeper connection and remind the buyer why your product or service is the right choice for them.