Ideas factory

<strong>Made to Stick: why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck</strong>

Chip and Dan Heat

Aesop's fables and JFK's cold-war speeches have more in common than you might think. Despite being created more than 2,500 years ago, the story of the tortoise and the hare has not lost its familiarity; and the maker of the speech containing the proposal to "put a man on the moon" will not be fast forgotten. What connects these two concepts is, according to Chip and Dan Heath, their "stickiness": their ability to stick in the minds of entire generations and continents of people. In this book, the Heath brothers analyse marketing and advertising and the ideas that lie behind them.

They argue that creativity isn't necessary, and that the successful idea is actually quite formulaic. In accordance with this, there is no reason why it cannot be learnt. Drawing on a wide spectrum of popular culture, from fast-food chains to movies, their core message is: avoid jargon and keep it simple. And they practise what they preach. Even though they are addressing a potentially dull topic, their analysis is peppered with memorable stories, images and facts, and it ends with a PowerPoint-style recap of all the lessons covered so far, as memorable as the ideas it discusses. This book is a gift to anyone who needs to get a message across and make it stick.

This article first appeared in the 29 January 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Climate change