One of the most memorable characters in the movie Goodfellas is Jimmy “two-times”. (40 seconds in on that link for you fans out there)
Mention his name to any fan of the film and they’ll repeat his only line: “I’m gonna go get the papers, get the papers”.
Why are those nine words in the memory of every fan of Goodfellas?
Because of what he says? No. Is it due to the way he says it? No again. They all speak similarly.
It’s because he says the line twice in quick succession, and that’s unusual.
So unusual in fact, that everyone remembers it.
Where’s the lesson for communicators here? That the same thing, repeated, has traction.
That’s not new in marketing, of course. Brands have been doing it for a century or more.
But for companies thinking about smarter business, about ethics, sustainability and CSR, simple message consistency is key, yet lacking.
Why is it, do you think, that Novo Nordisk is known for wanting to CURE diabetes, rather than treat it?
Why is Nike known for sustainability-driven innovation, Interface for zero impact aims, GAP for stakeholder engagement and transparency?
Why are Levi’s known for waterless jeans, the Body Shop for campaigning, M&S for Plan A and Shell for dialogue?
It’s because they keep talking about it. Repetition.
Becoming known for that one thing (amongst others of course) is extremely valuable.
Word association matters. In the world of ‘opinion-formers’, you want your company to be associated with something positive.
Find that one word that helps create the aura, and work it.
Do it before your competition does.