Research Summary

The Ownership of Deep Metaphors

by Gerald Zaltman


Deep metaphors are basic orienting structures of human thought. They guide in subtle and overt ways how customers and managers process information about any product, service, or activity and event. It is essential for a firm to understand deep metaphors as they are experienced in particular product markets and to know how to gain ownership of them. Gaining ownership refers to the process whereby consumers or other stakeholders automatically associate a particular deep metaphor with a brand and do so in such a way that any competitor invoking this deep metaphor unavoidably makes the 'owning' firm's brand salient.