In the world of ideas, success is not guaranteed solely by brilliance; it requires the ability to make ideas sticky. Despite their brilliance, great ideas often fade away while less worthy ones, like rumors and urban legends, spread rapidly. The key lies in making ideas memorable and shareable. Let’s explore the principles that can transform any idea into a sticky and popular concept.


Simplicity is key


A sticky idea must be simple. Instead of drowning an idea in unnecessary details, distill it down to a single, easy-to-grasp statement. Journalists excel at this skill, creating headlines that capture the essence of an entire article in just a few words.


Embrace the unexpected


The brain tends to ignore the familiar, so making an idea sticky requires an unexpected element. By introducing surprise, an idea grabs attention and stays in people’s minds. Whether it’s a quirky flight attendant breaking from a routine safety demonstration or a shocking fact challenging the status quo, the unexpected makes an idea memorable.


Curiosity gaps


To overcome the challenges of gaining and holding attention, exploit curiosity gaps. By revealing something unknown or unexpected, these gaps create a compelling need to fill the void. From detective novels to celebrity gossip magazines, the technique of leaving gaps in understanding is a powerful tool in making ideas stick.


Be concrete and descriptive


Abstract terms often fail to resonate, so make ideas concrete and descriptive. Using relatable language and vivid imagery helps people connect with the concept. Avoid unnecessary jargon, opting for clear, real-world examples that enhance understanding and ensure the idea sticks.


Establish credibility


Credibility is essential for an idea to spread. Backing up a story with expert endorsements or using realistic facts and figures enhances believability.


Appeal to emotions


Emotional appeals inspire action. By tapping into human emotions, ideas become more than mere statistics; they become a call to action. Whether it’s anti-smoking campaigns or aid appeals, connecting emotionally with the audience is crucial for making an idea stick.


Highlight personal benefits


Appeals to action are most effective when they demonstrate personal benefits for the audience. People are more interested in themselves, so showing how an idea can positively impact them makes it more compelling.


Tell stories


Ideas stick best when told as stories. Stories engage the brain and allow individuals to anticipate their reactions in similar situations. While slogans have their place, stories and examples are more effective at inspiring action.




The formula for sticky ideas is encapsulated in the acronym SUCCESs:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Story


By incorporating these principles into idea presentation, success becomes not just possible, but highly probable. Every idea has the potential to stick – it’s all about crafting it in a way that captures attention, resonates emotionally, and inspires action.

Inspired by a book “Made to Stick”; Chip Heath and Dan Heath

2 minutes read

Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Find out what makes ideas “stick” in the mind and how to make them work for you.