Startup Grind is a community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators that take part in everything from workshops to social media discussions that “bring like-minded yet diverse individuals together to connect, learn, teach, help, build, and belong.” Two years ago, they, through a piece by Abhilash Patel, discussed the importance of analogies to hit points across in the business world. The specific analogies discussed were:

  • You can’t run a marathon on an empty stomach.
  • There is no harvest without water.
  • A leaking boat is a sinking boat.
  • Go the distance.
  • You can’t bake a cake without all the ingredients.

Analogies: A Company’s Secret Weapon

Expressing goals and values in a way that employees understand should never be underrated. If employees don’t understand and connect with their company’s mission statement, then who cares if the mission statement is technical perfection, with every comma and colon just right, and focus group and CEO approved? It’s not that words need to be watered down; it’s that words need to elicit an emotional response and create a vision if they are to be motivational and engrained.

In a piece entitled How Steve Jobs’s Mastery of Analogies Sent Apple Skyrocketing, a precise and phenomenal point was made about the power of analogies within the business setting. The piece says,  “Analogies work because they make the unfamiliar familiar; they help the mind navigate new terrain by making it resemble terrain we already know.” It goes on to say that “Apple was able to win over the masses by drawing analogies between the virtual world (which was unfamiliar) and the physical one (which all consumers knew intimately).”

Consumers Respond to Well-Crafted Analogies

Something that is so ingrained in modern-day society that is actually an analogy made by Steve Jobs to make computers feel more approachable to consumers, during a time when computers harkened a sense of fear and overwhelming nausea, is “desktop.” As the aforementioned piece about Steve Jobs says, “Though we forget it, that very word, ‘desktop,’ is an analogy: it was meant to teach new users squeamish about the virtual world that you could use a Macintosh’s graphical interface the same way you used something you were familiar with: the top of your real, physical desk.”

Analogies aren’t just helpful to employees trying to understand and embrace the mission and values of their employer, they also help consumers understand products and services that are unfamiliar. They are a tool that, when used well, can be key to catapulting a company’s profits. They are worth a company’s consideration because they can be tremendously effective in a relatively short amount of time and as those in the business world know, time is money.

Author: Evelyn Lindell