Monday, January 24, 2011

Metaphors Don't Kill People.

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me." I heard that all the time as a kid and didn't realize until much later that it wasn't true. Words can be harmful. Even deadly.  Since minutes after it happened, the media have been trying to connect the tragedy in Tucson with harsh words -- and the military metaphors used to describe political battles.

Tucson wasn't the result of politics or words. It was one wacko with a gun. And now, apparently the media is hard at work to protect us from "violent" metaphors -- words like "targeting" or "in the cross hairs" or "taking aim" among others.

The dictionary describes a metaphor as "a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied tosomething to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance." Hint: metaphors aren't literal.

Communicators use metaphors to make points when used as comparisons. To make a comparison, you need a strong example. It happens that the strongest metaphors for competition are related to fighting and war. "Toning them down" means diluting the message. Using war metaphors doesn't cause violence any more than saying "my mother is gonna kill me" will make it so.

What's next?

If you want to talk about guns, that's another story. But please media, if you must protect me from words, just shoot me now.

Copyright 2011, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pick. Pick. Pick.

GAP, Big Ten Conference, Comedy Central. All bashed recently for new logos. It happens every time. A high profile identity is launched and immediately the pickers start. They're the ones who like robins seeking worms in the grass after a rain, pick things apart. Appropriately most of them are tweeting on Twitter. Usually the commentary comes down to "I like it" or "I don't like it." The word "sucks" comes up a lot. A commentator on Michigan Public radio who curiously qualifies himself as "just one person, armed only with a pen, a few cocktail napkins and a couple cans of cold beer" even weighs in with his own ideas in a piece called "This Logo Stinks". 

This week the Rio Olympics unveiled its logo for the 2016 games. I rarely use the term beautiful when talking about graphic design, but I will here. Not to disappoint, the pickers immediately started digging for worms. Talk of plagiarism reared its head. Turns out there is a resemblance to another logo for the Telluride Foundation. Yeah it's similar -- but plagiarized? I doubt it. I'd go out on a limb to say the Brazilian designers with the skill to create this had no need to be copying the work of anyone else.

Painters mix paint colors to make new ones. Mix too many colors, and eventually you have grey. I hope every organization that launches a new logo does it with the commitment that comes with a well thought strategy -- usually a good story. That's the best defense against pickers. If they all had their way, everything would be gray.

Copyright 2011, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.