“You Never Know” or “Linguistic Threesomes”

mean people suckIn what some consider to be the golden era of American advertising, (late 1940’s through late 1960’s), many advertising agencies effectively employed a three-word tagline/slogan model for products and services being advertised. This method became quite popular in both radio and print formats. It is certainly very much in use today.So what makes the idea of saying something in three words so effective? Well, to illustrate this, perhaps we could take a look at some of the everyday examples, when all of us, regardless of our educational and socio-economic backgrounds, find it absolutely, positively necessary to express our ideas simply in three words:-          leave me alone
–          what’s your problem? (technically it’s four words, but I’ll explain later)
–          are you mad? (at times alternated with “are you stupid?”)
–          well, well, well…
–          check it out Each of us can certainly complete this list with our own examples. But let us go back to the question of what makes this form of expression so effective. There are various explanations, ranging from the nature and use of the language in different cultures, to the individual structure of words in different languages, to the number of syllables per word, etc. However, I believe the answer truly lies in the sound rhythm of the words spoken collectively, as a phrase. There is a certain inexplicable finality of expression in the three-word rhythm, at least in the English language. Often times, this rhythm is achieved by combining two words together to create one complete sound, such as in the “what’s your problem” example above. And it works beautifully (and incredibly effectively) not only in everyday colloquial use, but also in advertising. Take a look:
–          Diamonds are Forever /DeBeers/
–          Just Do It /Nike/
–          We Try Harder /Avis/
–          Breakfast of Champions /Wheaties/
–          Where’s the Beef? /Wendy’s/
–          Be a Pepper /Dr. Pepper/
–          Imagination at Work /GE/
–          Australian for Beer /Fosters/
–          Fair and Balanced /Fox News/
–          Taste the Rainbow /Skittles/
–          Snack, Crackle, Pop! /Rice Krispies/
–          Built Ford Tough /Ford/
–          Like a Rock /Chevy/
–          Zoom, Zoom, Zoom / Mazda/
–          King of Beers /Budweiser/
–          The Silver Bullet /Coors/The three-word sequence has an innate and beautiful conceptual finality to it. We get it, we understand it, and we “feel” the meaning. So the next time we tell our kids to “clean your room,” “wash your face” or “go to sleep,” let’s hope that they will understand it as quickly and act on it promptly. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But as the old saying goes, “You Never Know.”

Source: All Things Branding

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