It isn’t news that people are exposed to more ideas than ever before. This is due to the fact that people are exposed to more media than ever before. It is through the media (newspapers, television, radio, the internet and more specifically the social media…) that ideas are spread, but sheer quantity makes it difficult to be seen and heard above all of the noise.
In this climate, what can you do to make your ideas stand out?
Two people who have attempted to answer this question are brothers Chip and Dan Heath. There came a point when the brothers realised that despite working in very different fields, they had both reached a stage where they were trying to answer the same question: ‘why do some ideas stick while others fail?’ This question became the title of a book they wrote together. In the book they defined six key qualities of an idea that help to make them stick:
1. Is the idea Simple?
There is value in simplicity. It is possible to narrow your idea onto a concise message without trivializing it. This is about zeroing in on the core intent of your idea so that it is easy to communicate to others clearly. It isn’t easy to create a concise phrase that is also profound, but the writers of this book believe it is work the effort because of the power of the potential impact it can have on audiences.
Apple are experts at simplicity. See the two videos below for the Apple iPad Mini. The 30-second TV advert doesn’t even need words. The trailer video is longer but the team who talking about the iPad use simple, strong language.
2. Make it Unexpected
The best way to capture people’s attention is to surprise them – do something unexpected. Capturing attention is one thing but it is obviously important to be able to hold on to it. Surprise and interest are the two essential components that are provoked by ideas that hold attention.
Aldi use the element of surprise subtly in the advert below to entertain viewers – it is also clear that people will be likely to remember an advert like this because it is not what you are expecting to hear:
3. Fix it in Concrete
Ideally, as well as understanding your idea, you want people to remember it. Concrete language is the key to people not forgetting your idea or message. Finding a language that is universal and can be understood by a range of people, regardless of their background or context, is an essential part of what it means to have a ‘sticky idea’.
Some videos that are particularly concrete on a universal level, are those that use music that people cannot forget. Music can be extremely universal – it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, if a song is sticky, it will get you no matter what. Go Compare are a good example.
4. You must be Credible
There are obvious sources of credibility, such as external validation and stats. However, these aren’t always the most effective. It may be the case that a couple of important details are more effective than a bunch of statistics (which people can often become ‘blind’ to because they see so many). A rebel might be more convincing than an authority. The writers of the book are keen to assert that credibility doesn’t necessarily come in the form of status – honesty and trustworthiness can come from other places.
‘The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity (US)’ uses credible celebrities with sparkly clean reputations to support the campaign to bring attention to the food crisis in the Hom of Africa.
5. Using Emotion to help people connect with your ideas
Getting people to emotionally connect with your ideas, to care about them, is another important component in making an idea stick. This part of the theory is based on the idea that feelings inspire people to act. This is not the same pushing emotional buttons through clever editing (I am thinking X Factor here…), it is about getting to the emotional core of your idea or message so that people sense what is at stake and care.
This online advert, which is part of the Embrace Life campaign, gets to the emotional core of why people should wear seatbelts:
6. The power of Stories
This book was written in 2007. It has only been in recent years that video marketers have really caught on to power of storytelling. Stories emotionally stimulate as well as inspire action.
The theories promoted in ‘Why do some ideas stick while others fail?’ are about getting to the emotional core of an idea. It is only through fully understanding your own idea and being able to define it clearly that you will be able to communicate it to others. In the drudgery and daily grind of running a business, many of us forget why we are doing what we are doing.
This online video from Expedia uses storytelling perfectly to engage its audience on an emotional level, tapping in to universal principles of love, family and acceptance.
I will leave you with this great video in which Dan Heath explains his ideas in relation to creating presentations that stick.