Metaphorically Speaking

Writing that just rubs me the wrong way

I’ve just had it up to here with copywriters who rely on metaphors just for the sake of pushing the envelope.

Using metaphors to make your point can certainly light the way for your audience. Who knows? You might even knock their socks off. But sometimes you just have to hold your horses because too many analogies can turn your copy into a three-ring circus and leave your readers out in the cold.

I ran into a site for a web development company with metaphors that are all over the map. Sure, metaphors can help your audience put two and two together, but when push comes to shove, you can easily muddy the waters.

Here’s an example from that site (and no, I’m not pulling your leg):

Some people call their websites their web properties, or their web real estate. We’re ready to help you stake your claim to cyberspace, and we do it with thoughtful construction. Other guys might rig together a skyscraper without realizing what you really need is a cozy cottage, without realizing that they’re building on swamp land … We look at the landscape. And then we build as little or as much as it takes. A cottage if it takes a cottage. A skyscraper if it takes a skyscraper.

And another:

Simply stated, people crave stories. They want to know the story of your product, service, or campaign … We can make compelling visuals and bolster your project with dynamic technology, but at the end of the day, it’s still about the message — it’s about connecting with people. Connecting with people who would be your prime customers, if only they found your story a best-seller.

And yet another:

Ever seen that guy who spins plates on broomsticks? The trick to it is keeping up a steady forward motion. Let us help your web world regularly revolve and evolve. We’ll manage the projects we started for you and even pick up where the other guys left off. How’s that for a cool trick?

Bottom line? I’m on board with using metaphors. Just draw a line in the sand and quit while you’re ahead.

Otherwise, your copy will take a real nosedive and run out of steam. You might even have to go back to the drawing board and burn the midnight oil.

But it’s not like I want to make a federal case out of it or anything.

After all, it’s your funeral.