Made to Stick: Summary Review

This is a summary review of Made to Stick containing key details about the book.

What is Made to Stick About?

Made to Stick is a book that explores the principles of effective communication and provides strategies for creating ideas and messages that are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories (SUCCESs), and therefore more likely to stick in people's minds.

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Made to Stick continues the idea of "stickiness" popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, seeking to explain what makes an idea or concept memorable or interesting. A similar style to Gladwell's is used, with a number of stories and case studies followed by principles.

Summary Points & Takeaways from Made to Stick

Some key summary points and takeaways from the book include:

* Simple: The core of an idea should be easy to understand.

* Unexpected: The idea should surprise people and capture their attention.

* Concrete: The idea should be easy to remember and communicate, by being specific and tangible.

* Credible: The idea should be trustworthy, by being rooted in evidence or by being told by an expert.

* Emotional: The idea should resonate with people's values and motivations.

* Story: The idea should be told through a narrative that draws people in and makes them care.

* By using these six principles, the authors argue, people can create ideas that are memorable, persuasive, and inspiring.

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Who is the author of Made to Stick?

Chip Heath is an American academic. He is the Thrive Foundation for Youth Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the co-author of several books.

Dan Heath is an American bestselling author, speaker and fellow at Duke University's CASE center. He, along with his brother Chip Heath, has co-authored four books, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive

Made to Stick Summary Notes

The Importance of Simplicity in Creating Sticky Ideas

In today’s fast-paced world, attention spans are short, and people are bombarded with information. It is crucial to cut through the noise and create sticky ideas that are easy to remember. The key to creating such ideas is simplicity. The simpler the idea, the more memorable it is.

Many people make the mistake of trying to explain their ideas in great detail, but this only makes the idea harder to remember. To create a sticky idea, it is essential to cut it down to its core and express it in simple terms that anyone can understand. This doesn't mean the idea should be dumbed down, but rather that the essential message should be encapsulated in a way that is easy to remember.

One example of this is Southwest Airlines' slogan, "THE Low Fare Airline." This simple, catchy statement effectively conveys the airline's key selling point and is much more memorable than a complex comparison of their prices.

Journalists are experts at this skill, as they must come up with attention-grabbing headlines that encapsulate the meaning of an entire book in just a few words. A bad headline can prevent a great book from getting the attention it deserves.

The Power of the Unexpected

The brain is wired to conserve energy by filtering out familiar or expected information. However, when something unexpected happens, it captures our attention and becomes memorable. This is the essence of the second key idea of Made to Stick. If an idea is presented in a surprising or unusual way, it has a better chance of being remembered and, therefore, making an impact.

The book emphasizes that when we are trying to convey an idea, we must try to find a way to make it surprising, unexpected, or even counterintuitive. This doesn’t mean that we should be random or irrelevant, but rather, we should try to present the idea in a way that will catch people off guard and make them think. It’s not just about being memorable for the sake of it, but rather, making sure that the audience will remember the message we want to convey.

A great example of an unexpected message comes from the famous “Got Milk?” advertising campaign. Rather than focusing on the benefits of milk, the ads presented situations where people were unable to enjoy milk because they didn’t have any. The idea was not only unexpected but also relatable and humorous, making it stick in people’s minds.

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Made to Stick: The Importance of Creating Sticky Ideas

The book “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath provides key insights on how to create ideas that are memorable and impactful. The authors discuss three main themes that help make an idea “stick”: simplicity, unexpectedness, and the use of curiosity gaps.

The first theme is that a sticky idea must be simple. Trying to explain an idea in too much detail can lead to people forgetting the key message. The art of simplifying an idea is to encapsulate the core idea in terms that anyone can understand, without changing the meaning. A great example of this is Southwest Airlines’ slogan “THE Low Fare Airline.”

The second theme is that a sticky idea must be unexpected. The brain often ignores familiar or expected things, but when confronted with the unexpected, it receives our full attention. By presenting an idea in an unexpected or striking way, it gets the attention it deserves. For instance, a flight attendant breaking from the normal safety demonstration script to declare that “there’s only one way off this plane” would have everyone on board listening.

The third theme is that curiosity gaps help make an idea stick. People allow themselves to go through everyday life on autopilot because they believe they know pretty much everything they need to know. The most effective way to grab someone’s attention is to show that there’s something important they don’t know – yet. By creating curiosity gaps, people feel a compulsive need to fill the empty spaces in their understanding. This can be done by using surprising facts and figures to open a successful pitch or presentation for any idea.

Sticky ideas are concrete and descriptive

Sticky ideas are concrete and descriptive. People tend to use abstract terms when explaining ideas, but this makes it harder for listeners to understand and remember. To create sticky ideas, it's important to use concrete and understandable language, avoid unnecessary jargon, and provide descriptive imagery or examples. This makes it easier for people to understand and visualize the idea, increasing the chances of it sticking in their minds. The use of concrete terms and descriptive imagery can also help in avoiding misunderstandings and misinterpretations. By making the idea concrete, it becomes more relatable and understandable to the listener, helping them to understand and remember it better. Therefore, if you want to make your ideas stick, use concrete language and descriptive imagery to help your listeners understand and remember your message.

Building Credibility for Sticky Ideas

Another point is that a sticky idea must be credible. In order for an idea to spread, people need to believe in it. Credibility can be established in a few ways.

One method is to have experts back up a story. However, an expert doesn't necessarily have to be a traditional authority figure in a white lab coat. Credibility can also come from real people with firsthand experience, as in the example of the anti-smoking campaign featuring a young woman who had smoked since childhood and was now facing a second lung transplant.

Another way to add credibility is to use facts and figures, but only if they are realistic and paint a concrete picture. Over-reliance on statistics can be confusing. An example of effective use of statistics is the anti-war campaign that compares the world's nuclear arsenal to the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, providing a common reference point for the audience.

Using the audience itself as a reference point is also effective in building credibility. Ronald Reagan's electoral slogan, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" addressed voters directly, appealing to their personal experiences and judgment. When people can personally verify a message, they are more likely to find it credible.

The Power of Emotional Appeals in Persuasion

The authors emphasize the importance of emotional appeals in inspiring people to take action. They argue that while presenting facts and figures can be useful in establishing credibility, it is emotional appeals that truly move people to act. This is because emotions, rather than reason and statistics, are the main driving force behind human behavior.

To illustrate this point, the authors offer the example of aid appeals for starving African children. While presenting statistics about the millions of children who are starving may be credible, it does not inspire action. On the other hand, showing a picture of just one child in need who could be saved by a donation appeals directly to our emotions and motivates us to take action.

Similarly, when it comes to persuading people to change their behavior, emotional appeals are often more effective than presenting dry facts. For instance, anti-smoking campaigns that show pictures of people whose lives and bodies have been destroyed by cigarettes can be more impactful than simply presenting statistics about the health risks of smoking.

The Importance of Appealing to Self-Interest for Effective Action

In Made to Stick, the authors emphasize the importance of appealing to the self-interest of the audience for an effective call to action. People are most interested in themselves, and before taking any action, they want to know what’s in it for them. Therefore, successful appeals must demonstrate the benefits of the action to the audience.

This idea can be applied to various situations, from marketing to social campaigns. A company should not just list the features of its products, but rather show customers how those features can benefit them personally. For instance, a new TV can be presented in a way that customers can visualize themselves enjoying its great new features from the comfort of their own homes.

Similarly, a social campaign aiming to discourage littering in Texas appealed to young people’s sense of self-interest by coining the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas” and having it read out by local celebrities and athletes that they could identify with. This approach made the young Texans feel connected to their role models and realize that “Real Texans like me don’t leave litter on the sidewalk.”

The Power of Storytelling in Making Ideas Stick

The book emphasizes that ideas stick best when they are conveyed through stories. Stories have a unique power to engage and inspire us, making it easier to remember and share an idea. While slogans and statistics may be useful, they often fail to inspire people to take action.

The reason stories work so well is that they allow us to experience the idea, rather than simply understand it intellectually. By presenting ideas in the form of a story, we can connect with the characters and imagine ourselves in their situation. This emotional engagement is what makes stories so powerful in shaping our behavior.

There are several common patterns that make for effective storytelling. The challenge pattern, in which a David takes on a Goliath, is a classic example that inspires us to take action and emulate David's bravery. The reaching out pattern, in which a Good Samaritan helps a stranger in need, encourages us to be kinder and more compassionate.

Another reason storytelling is effective is that it helps to personalize an idea. By sharing a personal experience or anecdote, we can make an idea more relatable to our audience. This is particularly important when trying to persuade people to take action, as it allows them to see how the idea could benefit them personally.

Book Details

  • Print length: 291 pages
  • Genre: Business, Nonfiction, Psychology

Made to Stick Chapters

Chapter 1 :Simple
Chapter 2:Unexpected
Chapter 3:Concrete
Chapter 4:Credible
Chapter 5:Emotional
Chapter 6:Stories

What is a good quote from Made to Stick?

Top Quote: “The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern.” (Meaning) - Made to Stick Quotes, Chip Heath and Dan Heath

What do critics say?

Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: "Made to Stick summons plenty of brain science, social history, and behavioral psychology to explain what makes an idea winning and memorable—and the Heaths do the telling with beautiful clarity.” — The Christian Science Monitor

* The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways. If you're interested in furthering your personal development, I invite you to check out my list of favorite personal development books page. On this page, you'll find a curated list of books that have personally impacted my life, each with a summary and key lessons.

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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