Why Some Stories Stick and Others Suck

Every single day, stories are shared and memories are made. Every minute, we have experiences that will be stored in our memory or forgotten forever.

I am sure all of us can remember a funny, sad, and exciting moment from this last week, month, and year. But what about the other moments? Last month, you likely saw hundreds, if not thousands, of social media posts and had countless conversations with people.

For some reason, some stories stick in our memory and others fade away. So what makes up a memorable story? What causes something to be remembered and others to fade away as if they never happened?

As we tell stories with hopes of being remembered, we must work hard to make them more memorable. It may sound repetitive and silly, but every day there are millions of moments shared around us and most stories are never remembered.

All it takes is hitting the refresh button online to see the moments of the day that stand out among the rest.

We call these moments “viral”. While I have not found a formula, I have learned things over the years that help drastically with sharing sticky stories.

In the book “Made to Stick,” Chip Heath and Dan Heath talk about why some ideas stick and others suck. Below are 6 characteristics they see in stories that matter, as outlined in the book. If you work in the marketing, storytelling, or any business with a responsibility or expectation to share content, keep these things in mind.


Stories must be simple and easy to understand. If someone has to ask a bunch of questions in order to understand your story, what you are saying is too complex or you are saying it poorly.


As we grow up, our brains form beliefs about how we think things work. In order to stand out, we need to tell stories in a way that challenges familiar patterns. We want to share information in a way that breaks the “this is how things work” tool in our brain to shock our memory. This builds expectation and allows an opportunity to provide a solution. If we create expectation without providing or at least pointing towards potential resolution, we will leave our brains confused and frustrated. But if we cause our brain to stop, build expectancy, and provide resolution, we will store that moment or experience in our memory.


Our senses drive us. We have to utilize the ability to allow people to comprehend stories with their senses. Give them an opportunity to use their senses to understand your story. The more senses someone uses in consuming information, the more likely they are to remember that information.


People appreciate honesty. I believe honesty always prevails. With so much clutter in our culture, our BS-meters have become finely tuned and people long to hear honest, believable stories. We long to hear stories that are true and hold value.


Our emotions should not make decisions for us, but draw us toward things we value. We need to tell stories in a way that causes people to feel deeply. If what you are saying matters, share it in a way that shows it. People will understand the value of something as they see you value it enough to be vulnerable.


Our lives unfold in stories. We tell stories at dinner, on airplanes, and hear them on the news. Stories are created and designed to be remembered. The more information we tell in story form, the better. Jesus. Ghandi. Homer. Steve Jobs. Scott Harrison. All of these people will be remembered for ages because their lives have told stories that can be retold and remembered.

As you share information (which you will), consider this simple SUCCES (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories) acronym. Nobody wants their stories to be forgotten.

Put in the work to make your stories stick and not suck.


We exist to help great brands, and people create and share great stories. SHARE this with someone you know who tells stories regularly. We know it will help them.