Why is 3 a magic number in marketing (and in life)?

Written by Kaia Vincent
Connect with Kaia on LinkedIn –

One of the best-known campaigns in 2020 was the ‘coronavirus awareness campaign’ by the UK Government:



It got us thinking about the power of three and why you should consider ways to harness its magic across your business.

From blogs that give you “3 ways to improve the X in your X”, to calls to action delivering “three options to encourage positive outcomes”, embracing the number 3 within your marketing is a well-paved road to success.

Brains love THREE

The power of ‘3’ wasn’t conjured up by a marketer or even a sales guru!  It’s proven by neuroscientists that our brains like patterns and ‘3’ happens to be the most basic pattern form; making it the easiest string of information for our brains to absorb and remember. That’s why it works so well.

This TedX video, by Mark Moore sets the scene about the number 3:

Make it sticky

Keen to test the magic of ‘3’ for yourself? What better place to start than with your brand values.

Over the years, we’ve met companies with no company values and others with 6 or more. Guess what? The sweet spot is …3.

Your brand values are the foundation of your culture, your service, your product and your communications.

By establishing these, you can better define your identity and show your customers what to expect from you. Your values have the added benefit of helping influence staff behaviour and encourage consistency in the way you work and communicate.

  1. Values lead to behaviours
  2. Behaviours drive culture
  3. Culture influences communications, service and product development

Try this…

Here is an enjoyable exercise that will allow you to identify 3 words that define your core brand values and sum up what you stand for.

These can be used as part of internal and external communications, so make sure you include staff from across the business in this exercise, so that the values you come up with are truly representative of your company.

Step 1

Gather your team together in a quiet comfortable area, possibly offsite.  Or you can do this exercise via Zoom or something similar.

Give every member of the group a pad of post-it notes and allow them 10-15 minutes to write down as many words as they can think of that they feel represent the business (one word per post-it note).

Think about your:

  • products
  • customer service
  • skills
  • expertise
  • principles
  • philosophy
  • reputation

Note down absolutely anything and everything that comes to mind – be instinctive and don’t overthink it, just get it down on paper because it will all be valuable in some way.  No idea is wrong!

Be as specific as possible with the words you use and think about their meaning. By all means pick words like ‘honest’, ‘value’, ‘helpful’, ‘authentic’ but try to think beyond these and get to the essence of that word e.g. ‘thoughtful’, ‘diligent’ or ‘humble’.

Don’t dismiss words with an ambiguous meaning (e.g. risktaker, which could be viewed as positive or negative) because they could help you find a better word that gets to the heart of who you really are.

Avoid words that describe what you think your business ‘ought’ to be rather than who you are (including what’s trendy, ‘normal’, or what your competitors claim to be) – this is about discovering what makes you uniquely YOU.

Step 2

Reconvene as a group and work together as a team to group words with a very similar meaning e.g. friendly, approachable, amiable.

Agree on the most accurate word from each group, then remove the rest of the post-it notes (you can keep them for later reference, just in case).

If you’re finding this part difficult, discuss which words you’ve heard customers use when speaking about your business (in a conversation, thank you emails, recommendations or testimonials) and how you refer to yourselves when communicating with others.  Can you recollect real life scenarios to back up the words you’ve selected?

Reach for a dictionary or thesaurus if you need some clarity to settle the debate.

Step 3

Split the words that are left into 3 categories. You should find that most of your words naturally fall under similar themes related to:

  • Personality e.g. enthusiastic, down-to-earth, empathetic
  • Ways of working e.g. tenacious, methodical, organised
  • Outcomes and reputation e.g. respected, prestigious, luxurious

Use a wall or large table to group and lay out your 3 groups of post-it notes. Take a photo for future reference.

Discuss and agree on ONE word from each group that most accurately defines your company culture.

This part can be challenging because you might find it hard to decide. Remember, the word you choose doesn’t mean you are NOT the other things, it just means that word BEST describes what’s MOST characteristic of your business.

Discuss all words openly and think of evidence to prove or disprove each one, to help you reduce your lists down to just 3 words.

Once you have chosen your top 3 words, write each word on the flip chart as a header in a different colour and list ten other related words underneath (from that same group of post-it notes, not different words). Develop a short snappy statement for your 3 words that explains what you mean by this word. Take a photo at this stage too.

e.g. these are Brevity’s core brand values and supporting statements:

Curious – As positive disruptors, we ask the questions that pave the way to change.

Big Picture – Our panoramic perspective sees beyond – and achieves more.

Real – Approachable and genuine, we get straight to the point – and get it done.


If you’re looking to make your marketing more authentic to your brand, then contact Brevity.  Our approach to marketing is simple, straightforward and successful. We’ll help you to discover why 3 is the magic number in marketing.

Let our team of 8 (well, 3 can’t always be the magic number!) become your marketing team – our combined expertise will make your business more successful.

Connect with Kaia Vincent via LinkedIn – email kaia@brevity.marketing or call 01256 536000.