While I was planning for a keynote I gave this past week, I made a quiz about product brands and catchy phrases.  Here are some of them — see if you can name who they stand for:

  • Snap! Crackle! Pop!
  • We do chicken right
  • Quality is Job One
  • Don’t leave home without it
  • When ____ talks, people listen
  • Have it your way
  • Like a rock
  • Be all that you can be
  • We try harder
  • ____ spells relief
  • Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t

If you get them all correct, you’re dating yourself, because many of these are a couple of decades old!  I quit at 68 phrases — I thought that was enough. 

The talking point of my keynote was “simpler“.  As I looked at the quiz, something jumped off the page at me.  In the 68 phrases, only three of them had a single word longer than two syllables!  People who market products and need their message to be retained use short words.  Short and simple.  I think it works for those of us who speak as well.

Keep your message simple.  Use short words.

P.S. Answers: Rice Krispies, KFC, Ford, American Express, E.F. Hutton (out of business in 1988!), Burger King, Chevy trucks, Army, Avis, Rolaids, Almond Joy/Mounds

P.S. #2  The only word (not name) in this post that has more than two syllables is the word syllable.  I could not find a good word to replace it.  It took twice as long to write — I expect it takes half as long to read.