People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little more.”   – Chip Heath, Author 


Book Data

Publication Date: January 2, 2007 

Print Length: 291 pages 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

#10 in Communication & Media Studies   

#20 in Systems & Planning 

#35 in Communications Skills 

Sales: Over three million copies  

The Topic

The topic of “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is the science and art of why some ideas are more memorable, impactful, and “sticky” than others. The authors delve into various aspects of communication and persuasion to explain why certain messages stand the test of time and are more effectively absorbed by their audience.

The book explores six key principles that make ideas “sticky”:

  • Simplicity: Ideas should be simple and core messages should be stripped down to their most essential points.
  • Unexpectedness: Sticky ideas are often surprising and challenge existing beliefs or knowledge, grabbing people’s attention.
  • Concreteness: Abstract concepts are made more memorable when translated into something that can be understood through the senses.
  • Credibility: People need to believe in an idea for it to stick, which often means providing credentials or sources.
  • Emotions: Messages that evoke emotions tend to be more memorable and impactful.
  • Stories: Narratives are inherently sticky, as they allow people to understand complex ideas through context and emotion.

By applying these principles, the authors argue that anyone can improve their ability to communicate more effectively, making their ideas more likely to be understood, remembered, and acted upon. Whether it’s in marketing, education, journalism, or any other field that involves conveying information to others, “Made to Stick” offers a framework for making ideas resonate.

The Ideal Reader

“Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is a book that explores the anatomy of ideas that “stick”—that are memorable, impactful, and effective in conveying a message. Given the wide applicability of the principles outlined in the book, the ideal reader could belong to various domains:

  • Marketers and Advertisers: Those involved in marketing and advertising can gain valuable insights into crafting messages that resonate and remain memorable to consumers.
  • Business Leaders and Managers: Professionals in leadership roles can learn how to effectively communicate company visions, strategies, and goals in a manner that engages and motivates their teams.
  • Educators and Trainers: Teachers, professors, and corporate trainers can benefit from understanding how to make their lessons and materials more engaging and memorable.
  • Journalists and Writers: Those in the field of journalism or writing can learn how to present information in a way that captures attention and sticks with the reader or viewer.
  • Public Speakers and Presenters: People who frequently give public speeches, workshops, or presentations can learn how to structure their content so that it is more impactful and long-lasting.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Those involved in social change or advocacy can discover how to craft more compelling and persuasive messages to gain support for their causes.
  • Designers and Creatives: While the book is not specifically aimed at designers, those involved in creating visual content can gain insights into what makes an idea or concept “sticky,” thereby increasing the impact of their designs.
  • Entrepreneurs: Start-ups often need to convey their new ideas clearly and compellingly to investors, partners, and customers. “Made to Stick” offers frameworks that can help.
  • Consultants and Coaches: Professionals who advise on strategy and performance can find value in understanding how to present their recommendations in the most compelling way.
  • General Readers: Anyone interested in the art of communication, persuasion, or behavioral psychology will find the book intellectually stimulating.

In essence, “Made to Stick” has broad appeal and is particularly beneficial for anyone tasked with the challenge of communicating ideas effectively, whether they are complex business strategies, social issues, or educational topics.

    The Promise

    The book’s promise to the reader is that by understanding and applying the principles outlined in “Made to Stick,” you can significantly enhance your ability to communicate ideas in a way that makes them memorable, impactful, and actionable. Essentially, the book offers a toolkit for making ideas “sticky,” thereby increasing their longevity and influence.

    The Heath brothers aim to provide readers with:

    • A Framework: A clear, straightforward framework (SUCCESs: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, Stories) to evaluate and improve the “stickiness” of ideas.
    • Practical Insights: Real-world examples, case studies, and anecdotes that illustrate each principle in action, providing a practical guide to implementation.
    • Improved Communication: Strategies that can be applied across various disciplines—marketing, teaching, leadership, writing, and more—to improve the effectiveness of your communication.
    • Better Decision-Making: An understanding of how to present facts and narratives in a way that influences decisions, persuades others, and motivates action.
    • Skill Enhancement: The promise of developing a valuable skill set that can be a game-changer in your professional and personal life.

    The Structure


    The introduction typically lays the groundwork for the subject matter and sets the stage for what the reader can expect. It introduces the overarching question of why some ideas “stick” while others do not.

    The SUCCESs Framework

    The main body of the book is organized around the SUCCESs acronym, which stands for Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. Each of these elements gets its own chapter.

    Simplicity: This chapter delves into why simple ideas are more memorable and effective.

    Unexpectedness: This chapter discusses the role of surprise and counterintuitive twists in making ideas memorable.

    Concreteness: This chapter explains why tangible, concrete examples are more effective than abstract ones.

    Credibility: This chapter explores ways to make your ideas more credible, through authorities or through the internal credibility of the idea itself.

    Emotions: This chapter deals with the emotional aspects that make an idea stick, from inspiring to fear-inducing emotions.

    Stories: This chapter discusses the power of narrative in making ideas memorable and impactful.

    Case Studies and Examples

    Interspersed throughout these chapters are real-world examples, anecdotes, and case studies that illustrate each principle in action. These serve to ground the theoretical aspects in practical, relatable terms.

    Practical Applications

    Many chapters include practical exercises or questions to consider, designed to help the reader apply the principles in real-world situations.


    The book usually wraps up by summarizing the main points and offering some final insights, often encouraging readers to apply what they’ve learned in their own lives.

    The Title

    The title “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” is highly effective for several reasons:

    Intrigue and Curiosity: The phrase “Made to Stick” immediately raises questions. What makes something “stick”? Why do some ideas “survive” while others “die”? The title prompts curiosity, making you want to delve into the book to find the answers.

    Clarity and Relevance: The title directly relates to the book’s core subject matter, which is about the “stickiness” of ideas. It tells you exactly what you’re going to get: an exploration of why some ideas have lasting impact while others fade away.

    Memorability: The word “stick” itself is a sticky term—it’s easy to remember. This makes the title itself an example of what the book is about, serving to reinforce the book’s message.

    Broad Appeal: The title is not limited to a specific industry or group; it speaks to a universal human interest in effective communication and influence. Whether you’re in marketing, education, or any other field that involves sharing ideas, you can immediately see the potential value of what the book has to offer.

    Emotional Resonance: The idea of something “sticking” often has a positive connotation of success, of making an impact. Conversely, the notion of ideas “dying” implies a loss or failure. The title plays on these emotional nuances to attract attention.

    Simplicity: The title is short, clear, and devoid of jargon, making it accessible to a broad audience. This aligns well with one of the book’s key principles, which is the power of simplicity in making ideas memorable and effective.

    Contrast and Tension: The juxtaposition of “Survive” and “Die” adds a layer of drama and tension, making the title more compelling. It suggests that the book will delve into stark differences that dictate the fate of ideas, and this contrast makes it more engaging.

    Chapter Structure

    The structure for the chapters in “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” generally follows a consistent format that aids in the understanding and application of each principle (Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories). Here’s a typical breakdown of how each chapter is structured:

    Introduction to the Principle: Each chapter begins with an introduction to the principle it will discuss, often using an anecdote or a real-world example to grab the reader’s attention and make the concept relatable.

    Explanation and Theory: After the introduction, the authors go into the theoretical underpinnings of the principle, drawing on research from psychology, communication studies, and other disciplines to explain why this particular element makes an idea “sticky.”

    Real-world Examples: The bulk of each chapter is often comprised of multiple examples, case studies, and anecdotes that illustrate the principle in action. These examples span different domains, such as advertising, education, corporate communication, etc., to show the principle’s broad applicability.

    Common Mistakes and Pitfalls: In some chapters, the authors discuss common errors people make when trying to apply the principle. They offer insights into how to avoid these pitfalls.

    How-to Guidance: Each chapter usually includes practical advice, tips, and sometimes exercises to help readers apply the principle in their own communications.

    Summary: Most chapters conclude with a summary of the key points, often reiterating the importance of the principle in making ideas stick and sometimes providing a quick checklist or guide for implementation.

    Transitional Remarks: Finally, each chapter may include transitional remarks that link it to the next principle in the SUCCESs framework, providing a smooth reading experience and making it easier to understand how all these elements interconnect.

    This consistent chapter structure not only makes the book easy to follow, but it also reinforces learning by repeatedly employing the same pedagogical approach: introduce the principle, explain it, show it in action, and then guide the reader on how to implement it. This helps to make the complex subject matter more accessible and actionable for the reader.

    What Made "Made to Stick" a Best Seller?

    Universal Appeal: The book resonates with a wide range of audiences, including business professionals, educators, and everyday people interested in communication.

    Practical Framework: The SUCCESs model is easy to remember and apply, offering actionable advice for making ideas “sticky.”

    Real-World Examples: The book uses relatable case studies and examples that help readers understand the principles in a real-world context.

    Well-Researched: The Heath brothers back up their claims with solid research, adding credibility to their arguments.

    Accessible Writing: The book’s straightforward language and engaging style make complex ideas easy to grasp.

    Actionable Advice: Each principle is broken down into actionable steps, providing a how-to guide for making ideas memorable.

    Relevance: In an information-saturated world, the ability to make ideas stand out is more important than ever, making the book’s topic extremely relevant.

    Expert Authors: Chip Heath and Dan Heath have backgrounds in education and business strategy, lending authority to their insights.

    Marketing and Buzz: The book benefited from strong marketing efforts and word-of-mouth recommendations, contributing to its bestseller status.

    Timelessness: The principles outlined in the book are not tied to any specific time period or technology, making the book continually relevant.

    These factors combined to make “Made to Stick” a standout book, earning it bestseller status and making it a staple read for anyone interested in effective communication.

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