Rule of Three in Branding with Examples

The Rule of Three in branding is a powerful and versatile technique that has stood the test of time. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to tap into the natural cognitive patterns of the human brain. As beings wired to recognize patterns, we find comfort and understanding in groups of three. This principle has been embraced and utilized by marketers, advertisers, and storytellers across various industries.

Words or phrases in groups of three are ideal ways to communicate an idea – whether it’s a tagline with just 3 words or text grouped into 3 bullet points. The human brain is more receptive to receiving information in groups of three because we are programmed to respond to patterns – and three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern.

The rule of three is a powerful marketing tactic that has been used by some of the most successful brands and influencers to capture the attention of their audience and make their messages stick. It is based on the cognitive principle that things that come in threes are more easily retained and remembered by our brains.

One of the most prominent examples of the rule of three in branding is Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs was a master at using the rule of three in his presentations and product launches. For instance, when introducing the first iPad, he positioned it as the “third device” between a smartphone and a laptop, and also offered it in three models: 16, 32, and 64 GB. This use of the rule of three made the message memorable and impactful.

But Jobs was not the first to use this tactic. The rule of three has been used by big brands, classic writers, and Hollywood filmmakers for decades. Some examples include:

  • Myths, legends, songs, and fables: The Three Wise Men, the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Three Musketeers.
  • Government and organizational structures: Many governments have their administration divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
  • Education: Progression in academia transitions from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s before concluding in a doctorate or Ph.D.
  • Taglines and slogans: Famous examples include Nike’s “Just do it,” Mastercard’s “Your flexible friend,” McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it,” and KFC’s “Finger lickin’ good.”

Let’s take a look at an example of the Rule of Three in branding using a well-known company and its tagline:

Example: Nike
Tagline: “Just Do It”

Nike, the global sportswear giant, is a prime example of using the Rule of Three in branding to create a memorable and impactful message. Their iconic tagline, “Just Do It,” consists of only three simple words, yet it encapsulates the essence of their brand philosophy.

  1. Concise Message: The phrase “Just Do It” distills Nike’s brand message into three powerful words that convey a sense of empowerment, motivation, and action. It inspires people to overcome obstacles, push their limits, and achieve their goals.
  2. Emotional Connection: By using the Rule of Three, Nike establishes an emotional connection with its audience. The tagline speaks directly to the desires and aspirations of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, evoking a strong emotional response and forging a sense of loyalty and identification with the brand.
  3. Memorable Impact: “Just Do It” is a prime example of the Rule of Three’s ability to create a lasting impact. It has become synonymous with Nike and is recognized worldwide. The simplicity and repetition of the three-word phrase make it easy to remember and recall, which further strengthens Nike’s brand identity and positioning.

In this example, Nike demonstrates how the Rule of Three can be a game-changer in branding. By distilling their message into three simple words, they have created a tagline that not only resonates with their target audience but also stands the test of time as an enduring symbol of their brand’s values and vision.

The rule of three can be applied in various aspects of marketing and branding to make your message more memorable and impactful. Here are five ways to use the rule of three to elevate your marketing:

  1. In copywriting and on landing pages: Summarize your message in three parts and display the main benefits in three bullet points for clarity and memorability.
  2. In slogans and taglines: Craft taglines and slogans with three parts that link to your company’s message, and add an unexpected element for increased impact.
  3. In storytelling: Structure your stories in three parts – set up the situation or problem, increase tension with a conflict, and resolve the issue or convey a lesson.
  4. In public speaking: Outline your presentation with an introduction, three main supporting points, and a conclusion summarizing the key message.
  5. In web design: Use the rule of three to create an optimal layout and guide the visitor’s attention to the most important elements on your website.

Key takeaways for using the rule of three in branding include:

  • Chunking information into three categories for better memorability and impact.
  • Creating simple taglines and emotional connections in a personal or self-deprecating way.
  • Using the rule of three to sell products, highlight features, and write engaging content.
  • Leveraging the familiarity of groups of three to make your brand message stick in the audience’s mind.

The rule of three is a powerful branding technique that taps into the human brain’s natural affinity for patterns and simplicity. By using this tactic in your marketing efforts, you can create more memorable and impactful messages that resonate with your audience and help your brand stand out. So, the next time you’re crafting a tagline, writing copy, or preparing a presentation, remember the power of three and use it to your advantage.