Reframing newsletter

Hammer Home the Building Well-Being Narrative with the Construction Metaphor

March 21, 2019

The explanatory construction metaphor is integral to a well-framed Building Well-Being Narrative because it provides the public with a more complete and productive picture of what human services are and how they work by relating them to something that is more easily and intuitively understood. This prevents the public from defaulting to inaccurate cultural models that lead to narrow views of well-being and how human services support it.

Through rigorous research and testing, the FrameWorks Institute identified construction as the most helpful metaphor for:

  1. Providing a complete definition of how human services, and the experts who provide them, promote well-being.
  2. Explaining how human services help when conditions, such as a struggling economy or an illness, disrupt or impede well-being.

Applying the Construction Metaphor

People understand that a building is constructed by a team of experts, needs a solid foundation and quality materials, and will require updates and repairs over time. Talking about human services in the context of building well-being helps people to see the work our sector does as valuable, lifelong investments requiring a range of expertise and resources—including prevention and intervention services, research, planning, and advocacy.

In order to frame your work with the construction metaphor, we recommend:

  • Taking some time to brainstorm common construction terms and concepts such as those below, thinking about all of the expertise, processes, and materials that go into planning, constructing, and maintaining a building
    • Blueprint, plan, design, build, construct, foundation, scaffolding, tools, bricks, mortar, resources, frame, structure, floor, stories, wall, roof, house, specialists, repairs, maintenance
  • Considering how your programs, issues and priorities can be described using these terms and connecting them to the metaphor
  • Drafting language in the context of construction that describes how your programs support well-being and address negative impacts on well-being, such as the below
    • Shaky foundations, missing materials, inadequate resources, life’s unpredictable storms
  • Using the below examples for inspiration

Of course, don’t forget to lead with the value of human potential and include life cycle examples to round out the Building Well-being Narrative since FrameWorks’ research shows reframing is most effective in increasing public support with all three pieces.

Real World Examples

We have excerpted below exemplary language using the construction metaphor from various National Reframing Initiative partners’ communications.

SPOTLIGHT: Implementation Guide – Module 3: Sustaining Reframing

Module 3 of the Implementation Guide offers tips, guidance, tools and resources on Sustaining Reframing, or fully integrating reframing into overall communications and maintaining consistent reframing into the future. Sustainability is achieved when reframing is established as the lens through which to make communications, development, and policy decisions across the organization. Module 3 recommends creating a standardized and comprehensive structure through examples of internal documents such as brand guidelines, protocols and strategy documents. Finally, Module 3 offers some suggestions for funding reframing.