Short Selling: In Words of One Syllable, It Works

“Big.” “Yuge.” “Great.” “Build That Wall.” “Lock Her Up.” “Drain The Swamp.” “Fake News.”

Notice a common thread among those terms that helped effect the biggest political upset in U.S. history?

They’re all monosyllabic. One measly syllable per word. (By the way, why is “monosyllabic” such a long word?)

Reams and reams and screens and screens have been filled with the lessons of the 2016 Presidential election. But here’s a key takeaway for anyone in the marketing communications business: Short sells.

Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, short clips. Copywriters have been hearing that dictate for, well, for as long as there have been copywriters. And for good reason: It works and always has. That where slogans came from. And taglines. Twitter. And why every communication begins with a headline.

Look, you can bemoan the notion that the masses are dumbasses. That dim people can’t and smart people won’t do a little mental work. That when people are presented with a choice of short or long, of simple or complex, of reflex or logic, they tend to default to their basest, brain-stemmy instincts. And if you wish, you can sing a sad song about the effects on a civilization when 60 million people go that route en masse.

Whatevs. I’ll leave all that to the sociology professors and political talking heads. For me, back here on the ground where branding and marketing professionals are trying to make a living, there’s an invaluable lesson to be relearned. Short sells. Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs, short video clips. Consumers eat it up. Always have. Always will. (And in the interest of full disclosure, so do I. I’m a consumer, after all.)

It helped get an unlikely President elected. It will certainly sell your brand, product or service.

4 comments on “Short Selling: In Words of One Syllable, It Works
Chris ThomasSays June 8, 2017 at 4:36 pm

smiley face emoji here


    John FatterossSays June 8, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    well done, sir.


Chris CapelleSays June 8, 2017 at 8:11 pm

“Again” – as in “Make America Great Again” – is two syllables.


Kimberly TynerSays June 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Well said! An important reminder. Short, but sweet!



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