Rhetorical appeals are tools of persuasion that are used to influence an audience. In this MarketingWit post, we will delve deeper into what these tools are, how they are used, and why they are important.
Did You Know?
Aristotle is called the founder of the persuasion secret and his rhetorical appeals have been in use for over 2300 years.
Advertising is a process by which one tries to persuade and influence the audience into buying something or adhering to a particular point of view. In order for this to become successful, there are several tools of persuasion that are used, like testimony or the bandwagon method. Similarly, in any communication process that involves the act of influencing an audience, there are certain key factors that are involved, mainly, the audience, the persuader, the medium used, and the tools used for the persuasion. Of the many tools that are used for persuasion, rhetorical appeals are some of the most common and effective.
What are rhetorical appeals and how do they help in influencing an audience? The following sections in this MarketingWit article will highlight the function of rhetorical appeals, why they are important, and how they are used in advertising.
What are Rhetorical Appeals
Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the art of discerning, in any given situation, the available means of persuasion.” In that to say that in any given situation, there are certain means by which people can be persuaded. Aristotle also elaborated on the means by which persuasion was carried through, calling them rhetorical appeals. There are mainly three types of rhetorical appeals―Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
▷ Ethos is the ethical appeal that is made in an attempt to persuade the audience by focusing on the qualifications or the character of the speaker.
▷ Pathos is an emotional appeal that is made in an attempt to persuade the audience by appealing to their senses and emotions.
▷ Logos is a logical appeal that is made in an attempt to persuade the audience by appealing to their reasoning and logical powers.
Aristotle went on to further say that in order for any persuasion attempt to become successful, the persuader has to use the right balance of the three appeals. He has to be able to gauge his audience and thereby formulate an argument accordingly such that it is the most effective. The excessive usage of any particular appeal and the argument can seem forced, false, or unconvincing. To highlight the importance of this balance he went on to place the three rhetorical appeals on three sides of a triangle―popularly known as the ‘Rhetorical Triangle’.
Understanding with Examples
In this following section, we will further elucidate on these 3 rhetorical appeals and how they are used in the method of persuasion by giving you examples of each.
Persuasion Through Ethos
Even before the persuader is able to give a speech, or put his points forth, he is being judged on the basis of his credibility and character, and whether he can be trusted. Thus, in order to persuade the audience, one has to be able to show them that the speaker is credible, that whatever information is being dispatched, is credible and that they will benefit from the same.
The main techniques used in this form of persuasion are citing credible sources, personal branding, and showing confidence in delivery.
Testimony is one of the most common forms of persuasion through ethos. All the advertisements that feature actors, famous personalities, political and other leaders, or people who have made a name or position for themselves in society are using ethos at the base of their persuasion method. When these people endorse a product or an organization, people tend to believe them because they have acquired credibility.
▷ For Example:
An athlete advertising for a particular brand of running shoes will seem more credible than a person of any other profession doing the same.
Persuasion Through Pathos
This form of persuasion is undertaken by appealing to the sensibilities, emotions, and values of the audience. It is said that a person will first be affected at an emotional level by an incident and that the logic and reasoning will come into the picture later. So something that makes you feel emotional, makes you laugh or cry, or makes you angry or proud or sympathetic (or evokes any other emotion, for that matter) will be more easily accepted. This form of persuasion is usually undertaken with the help of inspirational stories and quotes and by building vivid pictures and scenarios. Many people are expert speakers and are able to make an appeal simply through speech, however, using vivid images is known to enhance this persuasion further.
▷ For Example:
An advertisement for an animal adoption drive will feature an animal shelter and show pictures of baby animals like puppies and cats that have been abandoned, in addition, they will use sad music, and might even go on to say that animals that are not adopted have to be put to sleep. All this is done to appeal to your emotions.
Persuasion Through Logos
This form of persuasion is undertaken by appealing to the logical and reasoning side of the audience; which is done by providing logic, reason, and proof. The tools that are used in persuasion through logos will involve references and proof from varied studies, statistics, case studies, comparisons, metaphors, and analogies.
While providing facts and statistics is important, it is equally important to build a foundation for your argument. This method also makes use of a fact or an event that can be compared to the subject that is being argued and follows an ‘If-Then’ sequence for deducing an argument―’if’ this is true, ‘then’ would this not be true as well?
It is also important to avoid the usage of emotional statements or images when trying to appeal to an audience through logos. This can be construed as manipulative.
▷ For Example:
Anti-smoking ad campaigns talk about the danger of smoking and provide specific statistics and data as proof. They will issue a statement by the health department citing that cigarettes contains over 4,800 chemicals and 69 of them can lead to cancer. Because the advertisement gives you clear numbers and cites an important source that has an authority over such figures, it helps in the persuasion process.
Rhetorical appeals are some of the most important tools used in persuasion. Even though each of these have their own characteristics, they are not used in isolation, usually, a balance and combination of these is used when appealing to an audience―this ensures greater success.