The concept of short-term memory was first made popular by psychologist George A. Miller’s 1956 article on capacity limits in information processing. According to the article, under normal circumstances, most adults can keep about 7 (plus or minus two) items within their short-term memory.
That’s seven numbers, seven letters, seven tasks, and seven tones, and so on.
Smith stated that “The span of absolute judgment and the span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process, and remember. By organizing the stimulus input simultaneously into several dimensions and successively into a sequence of chunks, we manage to break (or at least stretch) this informational bottleneck.”
How does it work?
Looking at an example, if you were asked to memorize this, could you do it in a few seconds?
I C Y M I B T W T T Y L A S A P F Y I
Chunking them into smaller segments facilitates the ability to remember more things.
The task gets markedly simpler once you realize that the string is made up of five well-known acronyms that you’ve likely already got committed to memory:
√ ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)
√ BTW (By The Way)
√ TTYL (Talk To You Later)
√ ASAP (As Soon As Possible)
√ FYI (For Your Information)
ICYMI BTW TTYL ASAP FYI
Chunking is a method used by the brain’s short-term memory to help keep groups of information more easily accessible to recall. It works best when the chiunks being memorized are already familiar to the person memorizing them.
The concept works in the same way when we commit songs to memory by segmenting them into specific lines. By thinking of each string of characters as its own entity, you’re able to commit the whole series of five short acronyms to memory far more easily than if you had to recall each of the 19 individual letters and their order in the sequence.
This theory of information gifts us with a more quantitative way of identifying and measuring the performance of our work as it relates to length and memory.
How can you use this in your branding?
When something is repeatedly placed in front of you, it’s continuously entering your short-term memory. The more often that happens, the stronger the long-term memory of it grows, and the chances it will be recalled later on increases.
The most successful brands in the world understand that when it comes to committing something to memory, less is more. For best results, come up with a few powerful words that evoke emotion, create a sense of who the brand is and what it stands for, and are easy to remember.
Nike: Just Do It
Skittles: Taste The Rainbow
Rice Krispies: Snap! Crackle! Pop!
Apple: Think Different
Focus on some short, powerful messages that resonate with your right people and then continuously put them in front of them whenever possible. This can include your business name, your business tagline, your personal brand tagline, and your brand promise. Go through your existing copy and find places you can twirl long phrases into shorter, clipped, more resonant messages.
I’m a Brand Therapist® providing psychology-based branding, copywriting, and consulting to individuals and micro-businesses in the creative arena. My signature services will help you discover and articulate your most authentic self so you can tell better stories, make more meaningful connections, and do more profound work.