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Five ways to make your messages ‘sticky’ or memorable

Creating ‘sticky’ messages means making them memorable and engaging, so that people are more likely to remember and follow them. David Mansell, Tribe’s Lead Creative Director, share his sticky messaging tips with you…

When we are at work there is lots to think about including safety procedures and rules to protect our wellbeing. But the pressure of a deadline and other priorities can often result in these regulations getting forgotten or deprioritised.

So how can we make important messages memorable at the point of risk amongst all the noise and distraction? We need to make those vital messages stick in people’s minds, which in turn help keep everyone safe.

Here are five ways to make messages ‘sticky’

  1. Tell a story: People remember stories much more than information. Hearing a story switches people into problem-solving mode and lets them imagine new possibilities while combating scepticism. While a statement invites people to judge, debate, and criticize, a story involves people in an idea and is far more engaging.
  2. Use visual aids: Images, videos, posters and virtual reality provide the brain with a picture to recall when under pressure or making decisions. Through recognising a scene or image and the outcome of the scenario that was previously depicted, it can influence an alternative safer decision.
  3. Include real life examples: People won’t remember a bland offloading of rules and regulations but by using real life examples to articulate a culture, it makes it more relatable. To see the result of how behaviour and decisions have affected others and not just hypothetically, the message remains more credible because it is not imaginary, it has occurred.
  4. Tap into people’s emotions: We are more likely to recall something that creates a reaction. A message that inspires a response, be that either happy or sad, is not only more likely to be remembered but also shared. Drawing on empathy and emotion makes people evaluate ‘what’s in it for me?’ and makes it easier for people to make the right decision.
  5. Make it interactive: Interactive activities such as games or quizzes can help to engage your audience. Through involving those in the learning seat, both physically and mentally, the brain is more likely to recollect a behaviour they have played out before, be it make believe or otherwise.

BAE Systems Maritime Services provides the perfect example of a successful interactive sticky message with their Winning at Safety Quiz that has just won the Safety & Health Excellence Awards for Campaign of the Year. Tribe worked with BAE Systems to create the quiz so that their employees would remember the necessary information.

Head of SHE Brad Hicks says: “There is a traditional image and perception of Health and Safety that discussions and workshops are perhaps going to be boring using lots of slides and an information overload which proves tricky for people to take in.

“Working with Tribe, we ran an authentic TV style quiz show that retold core safety information and lifesaving rules but in a completely different way. You know you’ve got the method right when your employees are talking about it with family and friends and asking when the next one will be. But most importantly, the safety information and procedures have stuck!”

Through creating a sticky message, your employees are more likely to not only remember them, but follow the procedure associated, prevent incidents from occurring and in turn, inspire a safer culture for everyone.

To ensure your health and safety message sticks you should follow the letters of the word SUCCESS: Is your message Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and a Story?

How to make ‘Sticky’ Messages

Watch a short video of David Mansell, our Lead Creative Director, talk about how sticky messaging works, and how you make them.

A version of this article originally appeared on the SHP website ( during May 2023.

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