maanantai 17. tammikuuta 2022

Key concepts part 3 Sticky messages

Infectious messages are universal and have stood the test of time. We can call them sticky. They have similarities. In the following paragraphs, I will explain how we can take our messages better. An infectious message needs to be understood, remembered, and effectively changed in opinions and behavior. Infectious messages have more than one of the following characteristics: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional, and are usually told as stories. (You can read more about these characteristics from Dan and Chip Heath´s book Made to Stick.) 


A simple message contains an easy-to-understand royal idea around which the message is based. We find the core for stripping our message to its core. We do the stripping by removing many ideas from the message and letting the main thing shine. It is about our limitations to receive information. The more we are able to compress the information into a concise message, the better our message will stick. Our message must also be relevant. One way to make a message concise is to use the information that the recipient can already find. It’s easy to succeed in creating a short and concise message, but it’s hard to create a profound purpose in the same package.


We must ask ourselves whether the audience will be surprised after they receive our message. We have to deliver something the audience do not expect. We must focus on the unique characteristics of our message. We must tell the audience something they have no idea about. If we tell a story, we must make sure its end is completely different than most stories about the same thing or have a completely different conclusion.


If we can sense things with our senses, they are concrete. Concrete language helps us to understand concepts. The language used by many experts is full of ambiguous concepts that we do not understand. Specific things are easier to remember and that is why we should use concrete terms. One of the best concrete tools is photography. Images and sounds connected to the message makes it more concrete.


We get to fight for the credibility of our messages with the beliefs, prejudices and social pressures of the recipients. There are several ways we can improve the credibility of our messages. Good and bad examples are some of them. Precise details also work to increase our credibility. The details are intended to support the core of our idea. We may also use statistics to support the post. When using them, they must be presented in a way that is comprehensible to the recipients.


Relying on our feelings is a good solution because it encourages us to act. We need to appeal to the feelings that the recipients of our message already have and connect them to our message that they don’t care about yet. After all, the most important thing for us is our personality. If we are able to combine the creation of emotions with our own interests, we will achieve the best result. Everyone usually asks themselves first, “How do I benefit from this?” Admittedly, this may not be a conscious choice. A message combined with our personality also brings results.

Story form

The stories work in two ways. They mimic reality and motivate us to act. These things create action. Mental simulation works because we were not created to imagine events without the action of the brain blocks that function in the actual doing. Mental simulations help in emotion management, problem solving, and visualization of the future. Stories realize abstract things. They inspire us to implement our ideas. They often help us get over old habits and presuppositions. They are concrete and for the most part they have both unexpected and credible elements.

The stickiness of our ideas has many enemies, such as losing too much information at the core, focusing more on presenting our ideas than on content, paralyzing decision-making, and too much the curse of knowledge, the power of presuppositions. When we have a good idea in mind, we can use a checklist for stickiness:

  • Is it all about the core message? (Simplicity)

  • Does it attract attention? (Surprise)

  • Does the audience understand and remember it? (Concreteness)

  • Is the audience able to identify or believe the idea? (Credibility)

  • Do people care about the message? (Emotionality)

  • Can people act on it? (Story form)

Messages do not need all characteristics to be sticky. Some of them are necessary. 

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