Made to Stick by Dan Heath
  • Title: Made to Stick
  • Subtitle: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck
  • Author(s): Dan Heath, Chip Heath
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Year: 2008-09-04
  • ISBN-10: 1407008242
  • ISBN-13: 9781407008240


“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is a compelling book that delves into the science of creating ideas that are memorable, impactful, and “sticky.” The authors explore why certain ideas resonate with people while others fade into oblivion, and they present a framework called the “SUCCESs” model to explain the elements that make ideas stick. Each letter of the model represents a characteristic that contributes to the effectiveness of sticky ideas: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Stories. Through engaging storytelling and real-world examples, the book reveals how successful ideas, whether in marketing, communication, or everyday life, share these core traits that capture and retain the attention of audiences.

The book begins by introducing the “Curse of Knowledge,” a cognitive bias that impedes effective communication when we assume others know what we know. “Made to Stick” then offers practical guidance on overcoming this curse and creating sticky ideas that endure. For instance, the authors discuss the importance of simplicity in conveying a core message and how unexpected elements can disrupt people’s thought patterns and generate curiosity. They emphasize the value of using concrete language and examples to make ideas more tangible and memorable. Furthermore, the book emphasizes the role of emotion in influencing decision-making, and the power of storytelling to connect with audiences on a deeper level and inspire action. Overall, “Made to Stick” is an illuminating and actionable read that equips readers with a toolkit to make their ideas more compelling and enduring, resonating with a diverse audience seeking to craft messages that leave a lasting impact.

Book Review

“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is a captivating and insightful exploration of why some ideas are memorable and influential while others are forgettable and fail to gain traction. The authors present a framework called the “SUCCESs” model, which outlines six key principles that contribute to the stickiness of ideas: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotion, and Stories. Through engaging storytelling and a blend of psychological research and real-world examples, the book offers practical guidance on how to create ideas that resonate and endure.

One of the book’s core principles is simplicity, emphasizing the power of distilling complex ideas into a core message that is clear and easy to understand. The authors illustrate this principle with the success of Southwest Airlines’ “THE Low-Fare Airline” tagline. By focusing on a single, straightforward message, Southwest effectively differentiated itself from competitors and became synonymous with affordable travel. Additionally, the book explores the importance of being unexpected to capture attention and create curiosity. The famous urban legend of kidney theft in a hotel bathtub serves as an example of an unexpected story that sticks in people’s minds, even though it lacks credibility. By understanding the element of surprise, communicators can break through the noise and engage their audience.

The authors stress the significance of concreteness in making ideas tangible and relatable. They discuss how Commander’s Intent, a concept used in the military, empowers soldiers with a clear and concrete objective, allowing them to make decisions on the ground without constant supervision. By providing specific, vivid details, ideas become more memorable and actionable. Credibility is another critical factor in making ideas stick, and the authors use the example of Subway’s Jared Fogle, who lost a significant amount of weight by eating their sandwiches, to demonstrate how real-world evidence can lend credibility to a message.

Moreover, the book explores the emotional impact of ideas on people’s decision-making. The touching story of Alex, a young cancer patient, inspired the creation of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raised millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research. By connecting emotionally with audiences, sticky ideas inspire action and support. Finally, “Made to Stick” emphasizes the power of storytelling in making ideas memorable and compelling. The success of urban legends, like the disappearing kidney story, demonstrates how stories become social currency and are passed from person to person, embedding the core idea in people’s minds.

In conclusion, “Made to Stick” is an exceptional and practical guide for anyone seeking to communicate ideas effectively and make them resonate with audiences. The Heath brothers’ SUCCESs model, supported by numerous real-life examples, offers actionable insights on creating sticky ideas that endure and influence people’s thinking. With its engaging writing style and memorable anecdotes, the book inspires readers to craft messages that are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and wrapped in compelling stories. Whether you are a marketer, communicator, educator, or simply interested in the psychology behind successful ideas, “Made to Stick” is a must-read that will leave a lasting impact on how you approach communication and idea sharing.

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Target Audience

The book “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is recommended reading for a wide-ranging audience, and its target audience includes:

  • Marketers and Communicators Marketers and communication professionals will find “Made to Stick” highly relevant as it provides valuable insights into creating messages and ideas that resonate with audiences and leave a lasting impact. The book’s SUCCESs model offers a practical framework for crafting sticky messages that cut through the noise, engage consumers, and drive action. By understanding the principles of simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and storytelling, marketers can improve their communication strategies and make their brand messages more memorable and persuasive.

  • Educators and Trainers Educators and trainers seeking to effectively convey information and engage their learners can benefit from the principles outlined in the book. By incorporating the elements of stickiness, such as using concrete examples, storytelling, and creating emotional connections, educators can enhance the learning experience and help students retain information more effectively. The book’s emphasis on simplicity and unexpectedness can also help educators capture students’ attention and maintain their interest in the subject matter.

  • Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs Business leaders and entrepreneurs will find “Made to Stick” valuable in developing and communicating their vision, mission, and strategic initiatives. The book provides practical guidance on how to communicate complex ideas in a simple and compelling manner, gaining buy-in from stakeholders and driving organizational change. By understanding the power of storytelling and emotion in inspiring action, leaders can effectively mobilize their teams and stakeholders toward a common goal.

  • Individuals Seeking to Improve Communication Skills “Made to Stick” is recommended for individuals who want to enhance their communication skills and become more effective at conveying ideas, whether in personal or professional settings. The book’s practical examples and actionable strategies can help individuals learn to craft persuasive and memorable messages, making them better communicators in various contexts.

  • Anyone Interested in Psychology and Communication Readers with an interest in psychology and human behavior will find “Made to Stick” engaging and informative. The book draws on psychological research and real-world examples to explain why certain ideas stick in people’s minds and influence behavior, making it a captivating read for anyone curious about the science of effective communication.

Overall, “Made to Stick” is recommended reading for individuals and professionals seeking to communicate ideas more effectively, whether in marketing, education, leadership, or everyday conversations. Its practical insights, engaging storytelling, and clear framework for creating sticky messages make it accessible and valuable to a diverse audience seeking to make their ideas more memorable, influential, and impactful.