We have discussed visual clichés in the past—the idea has been to explain how you can overcome visual clichés by using the four principles of thinking creative, thinking profound, thinking logical, and finally thinking again.
In fact, in a cliché case study, we spoke about how everyone thinks about a light bulb when they need to express a bright idea. In fact, a search on Google Images for the term, "bright idea" singularly returns only visuals of light bulbs!
And then the other day, I saw this picture of too many light bulbs in an Accenture advertisement! Strangely, this did not seem clichéd? Why did this happen? Why did the cliché go away?
Is that because there is a way of overcoming a visual cliché, and that is to go overboard with the actual cliché itself! As they say, there is safety in numbers. Do too many instances of the same cliché make it a pattern? And do patterns make clichés insignificant? That's something interesting, and can help you when you have few options to go beyond a visual cliché.
Patterns are created using multiple instances. Why do multiple instances of the same cliché negate each other? The answer to that question may be the fact that poison kills poison—at least this last metaphor of poison killing poison is very well known in the orient, and in India.
In the Mahabharata, an Indian epic there is the story of Duryodhana, who planned to kill his cousin Bhima. He tried to execute this plan by poisoning Bhima's food. And then when Bhima fainted as a result, Duryodhana threw him into a nearby river. Poisonous snakes in the river bit Bhima, and this poison negated the poison that Bhima had earlier consumed. Thus, Bhima swam up the river and survived to one day kill Duryodhana!
And it seems like this poison kills poison metaphor may work with clichés too! One cliché may get negated with multiple instances of the same cliché.
So is it possible that you can overcome a cliché by going overboard? That's food for thought! I have found that this approach can work sometimes, but only if implemented thoughtfully and tastefully.
As I read the intriguing title of the article, I wasn't sure what to expect. You've uncovered an extremely important principle here that has been overlooked for the most part. Most instruction on overcoming visual cliches is structured around thinking differently, picking metaphors that are not overly used, or using icons instead of stock images.
Thank you for this enlightening (pun intended, LOL) article! I am going to give this some thought and I wonder if there are visual cliches like the "handshake" that can be killed using this principle. I'm going to give it some thought...
@Sam, I think this approach does have its merits but no solution can really be a formula that can work all the time. Yes, it does work with light bulbs but will it work the same way with handshakes? Incidentally, we did look at handshake clichés in another article!
What's funny for me about this post is that Accenture (and Andersen Consulting in its prior incarnation) was the place where, for nine years, I helped create thousands of presentations and practiced exactly what you warn against here. I guess some change comes rather slowly, if ever.
@Tony -- thank you so much for your comment. Have a fabulous day.
April 2003 | May 2003 | December 2003 | January 2004 | February 2004 | March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004 | June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004 | September 2004 | October 2004 | November 2004 | December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005 | April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | January 2011 | February 2011 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | April 2012 | May 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | November 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | May 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | November 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | April 2016 | May 2016 | June 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 |
Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.