What’s in a Metaphor? Using images to decode culture

Jul 21 2015 Published by neilgains under semiotics

TapestryWorks recently conducted some fascinating research into the meaning of beauty for Muslim women in Indonesia and Malaysia.  The self-funded project looked at the key emotional goals relating to beauty, using our StoryWorks framework and Visual Think Cards, perceptions of local female celebrities in relation to beauty, and an emotional and cultural analysis of how brands are talking about beauty in both markets.

We will be sharing the results with clients and publishing some of the key highlights soon, but one of the major findings is that many local brands are far ahead of global brands in catching the local zeitgeist and communicating messages that resonate with local cultural norms.

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Answers without Questions

Sep 13 2012 Published by neilgains under insight

I believe that market research still relies far too much on direct questions and answers and that many current practices in research suffer from serious flaws. There are three big problems in relying on direct question and answer approaches:

  1. They do not take account of the different systems in the brain
  2. They too often ignore the importance of context (and it’s role in memory)
  3. The act of asking questions can itself change the answers you get Read more »

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Copying, Stealing, Borrowing, Blending (Introduction to Semiotics Part 9)

Jun 16 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.”  - Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (see above) is considered a seminal work of art leading to modernism and cubism (Picasso always referred to a ‘brothel’ rather than the more polite ‘young ladies’). The work borrows ideas from Cezanne, Gauguin, El Greco , Spanish art, Iberian sculpture and African tribal masks and blends them in a unique and provocative  way (for 1907) to create a masterpiece. Read more »

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Metaphor and Meaning (Introduction to Semiotics Part 6)

Jun 06 2012 Published by neilgains under semiotics

Rosalind gives Orlando a chain in As You Like It (Emile Bayard)

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances”  - William Shakespeare
Metaphors and life
Shakespeare was a master of metaphor, and ‘all the world’s a stage’ is one of his most famous and widely used, linking back to the Roman persona (read more here) and the modern ‘dramaturgical’ age as written about by Erving Goffman and others. It’s widely used because it makes so much sense as a description of our lives. Read more »

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Voyage and Return (Plot #4)

Sep 20 2011 Published by neilgains under storytelling

Into another world

My favourite film of last year was Inception (you can read about marketing inception here and the psychology of inception here). For those who haven’t seen it yet (and please do if you haven’t), the plot involves the main character played by Leonardo di Caprio entering someone’s dream world with a team of helpers in order to plant an idea in the dreamer’s mind. As with similar ‘Voyage and return’ plots, Leonardo’s character starts the movie with a shadow (his wife’s suicide) hanging over him, restricting his mental world and opening him to the potential of a voyage into the unknown (with the promise of a return to his home). He finally returns home after  a strange and dangerous voyage of discovery, a changed man. Read more »

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Cultured Marketing

Jul 06 2011 Published by neilgains under culture

Cross-cultural differences

I’ve written previously about the importance of understanding cultural context to interpret human behaviour and there has been extensive research on cross-cultural differences, especially in the workplace.  Edward Hall was one of the pioneers of such work, and was the first to focus on the context sensitivity of different cultures, comparing high-context cultures such as Japan with low-context cultures such as the US and UK.  In high context cultures, he found that there was often little need for much written or oral information as individuals were heavily socialised and sensitive to contex, whereas individuals in low-context culture require much more background detail in order to interpret information.  Visual communications without verbal information can work very effectively in high-context cultures because of such sensitivity. Read more »

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Metaphor and Meaning (Consumer Understanding #9)

Mar 18 2011 Published by neilgains under consumer psychology

Sensory thinking

The senses inform much of our language, as the dominant source of our experiences.  We all use words related to different senses to express ourselves (I can see your point, I hear you, I was touched by a thought), and some theories (eg NLP) claim that we have different preferences for the sensory modalities (I hear what you’re saying vs I see what you’re saying).  Thus, the senses truly help us to create our everyday expressions. Read more »

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