I can never remember the six principles Chip and Dan Heath talk about in their excellent book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die so here they are for you and I to reference when we need them.

Principle #1: Simplicity

Finding the essential core of your idea.
Master of exclusion.
It’s not about being short.
It’s not sound bytes.
It’s about finding proverbs.
The golden rule – a one sentence statement so profound that someone could spend a life time learning it.

Principle #2: Unexpectedness

How do we get our audience interested in our ideas and how to we keep their interest while we try to get our points across.
Need to violate people’s expectations.
Need to be counter intuitive.

“A bag of popcorn is as unhealthy as a whole day worth of fatty foods.”

Must generate interest and curiosity.
Engage by systematically opening gaps in people’s knowledge and then filling those gaps in.

Principle #3: Concreteness

Must explain our ideas in terms of human actions.
Mission statements are ambiguous to the point of being meaningless.
Natural sticky ideas are full of concrete visualizations.
Ice filled bath tubs.
Razor blades in apples.
Our brains are wired to remember concrete data.
In proverbs abstract truths are encoded in concrete language.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Principle #4: Credibility

How to we get people to believe in our ideas.
Sticky ideas need to carry their own credentials.
Hard numbers aren’t the right approach.

JFK: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving a goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”

Principle #5: Emotions

Make people feel what you are telling them.
36 grams of fat means nothing.
One bag of buttered popcorn equals a whole days worth of fatty foods gives it bite.

Principle #6 Stories

How do we get people to act on our ideas?
We tell stories.
This is how information used to be passed from generation to generation.
Good stories stick.
Gives us experience and understanding without having being there.

So here is our check list for creating a successful idea:

A simple, unexpected, concrete, credentialed, emotional story.

To get the full story on this and techniques for giving your ideas legs read Made to Stick.