Thursday, January 11, 2007


If you liked Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, check out Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath take Gladwell's notion of stickiness (which is similar but not identical to Seth Godin's "sneezing") and provide a workable formula for creating sticky ideas. Because while The Tipping Point is an interesting read, it is tough to apply its principles to marketing work. It's just a little too abstract. By contrast, Made to Stick is like an entertaining class taught by a really great professor. They've structured their book so their notion of stickiness sticks with you.

So what are the common elements of stickiness--be it an urban legend, great advertising or a company motto? The authors name five key ingredients: an unexpected outcome, lots of concrete details that we remember, emotion, simplicity and credibility--all wrapped up in an easily told (and retold) story format. Each one of these elements is illustrated with highly entertaining anecdotes and case studies. I've even found myself enjoying the "homework" exercises in the sidebars. In one exercise, we're challenged to think up as many white things as we can in 15 seconds. Then, we have to think of all of the white things we might find in our refrigerator in the same short period of time. The second task is far more limiting, but its concreteness makes the details more easy to recall.

I plan to expense this book, and while it may not lead me to the next big idea (and we are heading into brand planning season), I think it will be a critical resource for selling those big ideas. I'm going to finish it tomorrow and get in in the hands of our EVP Creative Director no later than Monday. Because it's no fun getting fired up about something unless you've got an ally in implementation.

P.S. While you wait for your Amazon order to arrive, check out the book's website.