Rule of Three

The Rule of Three is a critical element of successful communication

Those who have worked with Brave New Markets for any length of time have heard our unwavering belief that good things come in odd numbers. Even more importantly, THREE is the perfect number of good things when describing a product or service. So, we are delighted to see GMC’s commercial invoking the Rule of Three for their product line.


Few companies, products and services can be effectively communicated with one word. For many good reasons, more information is necessary. Therefore, be aware the human brain is more comfortable processing multiple facts in odd numbers (3-5-7-etc.) The real sweet spot is three. This isn’t new. There are Rules of Three for many disciplines, including writing, law and economics. 

Famous Threes:

  • Three Musketeers
  • The few. The proud. The Marines.
  • Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Wikipedia nicely introduces the concept:

The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. The audience of this form of text is also thereby more likely to remember the information conveyed because having three entities combines both brevity and rhythm with having the smallest amount of information to create a pattern. It makes the author or speaker appear knowledgeable while being both simple and catchy.

Carmine Gallo of Forbes discusses the concept:

Steve Jobs applied the Rule of 3 in nearly every presentation and product launch. In 2007 Jobs introduced the first iPhone as the “third” of Apple’s revolutionary product categories (the first two were the Macintosh and the iPod). He even said that Apple would be introducing “three” revolutionary products—a new iPod, a phone, and an Internet communications device. Jobs repeated the three products slowly until the audience finally figured out he was talking about one device capable of handling all three tasks.

While the Rule of Three is not new, it is more important than ever, especially for key selling points. As more and more information is consumed in glimpses, microseconds and ever-shorter attention spans, presenting it in easily consumed structures is critical.  And let’s be clear, we mean three attributes that consist of the least number of words possible. 

Less is more. The Rule of Three and conciseness help avoid the sin of trying to say everything. The medium doesn’t matter. These rules apply to print, digital and videos just the same. 

The importance of the Rule of Three:

  • Simplifies information
  • Balanced, comfortable pattern
  • Keeps audience engaged

Occasionally, descriptions of complex products or services require more than three items. Longer feature lists are not key selling points. So, make sure a distractive feature list is an odd number and presented below the main selling points.

Living by the Rule of Three is an important part of successful messaging in Digital Customer Acquisition. The sometimes-painful process of identifying the three most valuable, concise and customer-centric attributes is a subtle yet powerful communications technique. It helps your messages rise above marketplace noise and be more appealing and actionable to prospects and customers.

Marc Waldeck
Marc Waldeck
Chief Results Officer

About Brave New Markets
Our team serves private equity firms and their B2B portfolio companies. We create new value at portfolio companies with a complete plug-in solution -- including BNM’s Digital Growth System (DGS), leadership, strategy, experience, talent and technology -- to produce rapid top-line revenue growth, margin expansion and increased exit multiples within typical PE investment horizons.

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