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Review: Made to Stick

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

Made to Stick


  • Easy to read
  • Entertaining style
  • Definite application of principles discussed in the book
  • One of the best books I have read in a long time
  • Useful for teachers, businessmen or anyone who has a message to communicate
  • Accompanying website for further information and study guides


  • Would like to have seen them apply the principles in more fields and situations

Full Review

The book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath was as entertaining as it was informative. It is a book about communication and how to help your audience understand your message. But it goes beyond understanding the message, it is about remembering the message, or making a message "sticky."

There are 6 principles to a sticky message:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotion
  • Story

Not every message will have all 6 of the principles. But the more that are included, the more sticky your message will be with the listeners. This can be in simple billboard advertising or in longer format programming.

Simple: What is the core of the message you are trying to communicate? The way you share that message can be some elaborate story, but the core needs to be simple. Therefore, the point of simplicity is talking about the core. The story can be complicated, but the message needs to be simple.

Unexpected: Many times the authors illustrated their points with urban legends (the ultimate in sticky messages). Usually the twist at the end is the hook that makes you think that the story just might be true. This is also the reason why you forward the story to everyone on your email list.

Concrete: Help the audience understand the reason behind the process, not just the final results. When your audience understands how to process the information and come out with the right results then your message is stickier than if they are just told to work the formula and arrive at an answer. They used math as an example. Just telling someone to memorize 6+4=10 is much less effective than helping them to understand counting. Once they know how to count they can figure out that 6 marbles added to 4 marbles results in having 10 marbles total. They are now empowered with the ability to figure out other basic math problems.

Credible: Don't just spout off statistics, show real people dealing with real issues. This will help the audience understand that this is real life. You may go as far as bringing someone up to communicate your message who has actually experienced what you are trying to share in your message.

Emotion: Get your audience to not only see the problem, but that they are either involved personally in the issue, or they can be the solution to the issue for other people. Make it personal.

Story: If you are left with only being able to tell the story, or the moral of the story, you should always choose to tell the story. The audience can figure out the moral if they have a memorable story. But they would never figure out the story if you only gave them the cold, hard moral.

The acronym for remembering the 6 principles of stickiness is SUCCESs.

In Closing

My only regret about the book is that I picked it up from the library and I don't own a copy of my own. It is on my wish list of books to get. I rarely re-read books, but this is one I can see me going back to again and again.

Whether you are an advertising agent, a writer, a graphic designer or a teacher, the principles of Made to Stick can revolutionize your method of communication.



Nov 14, 2010 2:16am
Great review of 'Made to Stick'. Thank you!
I believe the tips are great for article writing too.
Nov 14, 2010 6:12am
That's true. Any time you are trying to communicate anything you could use these principles.
Nov 17, 2010 7:00am
Thanks for sharing - add it to my books wish list me too.
Nov 18, 2010 5:26am
I am critical of most books I read. This one, however, has got to be one of my all time favorite books. They have written another book, The Switch, that I want to read too.
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