6 Principles of Sticky Ideas

Made to Stick

Recently I finished Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and they give six principles for making ideas stick. To preface, the Heath brothers do say, “there is no ‘formula’ for a stickY idea — we don’t want to overstate the case. But sticky ideas do draw from a common set of traits, which make them more likely to succeed” (15).

  1. Simplicity. Being short is not the goal but rather proverbial sayings that are simple and profound. An example of this would be the Golden Rule.
  2. Unexpectedness. People will pay attention if you violate their expectations.
  3. Concreteness. Explain your ideas in ways people can understand and remember it.
  4. Credibility. We believe because of our parents, friends, experiences we’ve had, religious beliefs, etc. Credibility comes as people agree and believe your idea.
  5. Emotions. Make a person “feel” something and they’ll be more inclined to care about your idea.
  6. Stories. Stories are compelling and help people visualize acting on the idea presented.


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