Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mice and books

One good example of a message that sticks, found at the Environmental Design Library at UC Berkeley:

It really stands out. The message is more likely to engage people and be remembered as compared to the traditionally "authoritarian" NO FOOD, NO DRINKS IN THE LIBRARY. It happens to follow pretty nicely the Made to Stick (*) "SUCCES" checklist:
- Simple: food attracts mice. Mice destroy books. Crystal clear.
- Unexpected: at the entrance of a library you expect a big poster with a red forbidden symbol crossing a cup and a sandwich icon, or just a NO FOOD, NO DRINKS printout, but NOT an alert to avoid feeding mice.
- Concrete: the message is quite mistakes here
- Credible: well it's posted by the library guys, they know about this stuff, right? Besides they give us a very compelling reason why we should not bring food into the library instead of the usual Don't do it. Period.
- Emotional: unless you are a ruthless human being, thinking of ruined books hurts.
- Story: again there is a strong visual component here. We picture the mice, or the varmints, or the critters, destroying the books...that visualization is like a little movie playing in our head, easy to remember and engaging.
(*) Made to Stick is a book by Chip and Dan Heath on "Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die". I highly recommend it. Their blog is pretty cool too.

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