I liked Martin Weigel’s take on how a more appropriate metaphor for modern brands is perhaps less about the human personality characteristics that we've long tended to attribute them and more about thinking of brands as software:
"Brands can now can remember what we like, and what we bought. They can anticipate when we need to restock, repurchase, or renew. They can suggest purchases, content, and experiences we will probably like.They can compare and recommend purchase options. They can respond to our service, upgrade, and replacement needs. And of course as brands become more like software, unshackled from the constraints of the physical world, they and their functions can inevitably flow through our lives with ever greater ease.”
This metaphor reminded me of Clay Christensen's ‘jobs to be done’ concept, which theorises that what causes us to buy a product or service (or indeed a brand) is that we ‘hire’ them to do a particular job for us. It's a simple idea, but framing it in this way helps us to understand customer motivations better. A simple example that Christensen uses is the V8 juice drink which was once marketed to compete with (and in a similar way to) other soft drinks like Gatorade, using brand attributes like how refreshing it was. The realisation that V8 was being bought instead to fulfil a different job led to a campaign that focused instead on how the drink provided the required daily servings of vegetables. Within a year of this decision, V8 had quadrupled its revenues.
Martin goes on to suggest that thinking of brands as software might encourage us to consider them as "...fluid, adaptable, responsive, upgradable, and permeating", and also how "utility (not just storytelling) can create meaning", all of which might encourage a more productive relationship between those who make products and services and those who tell stories. The best metaphors are those that interpret and clarify meaning in memorble ways. And this is one that is worth exploring further.