There is an idea in the world of advertising called the high concept. Heath and Heath in their book Made to Stick note that high concepts are among the best examples of core and compact ideas. They convey a lot of information in a few words. High concepts are often used to convey an entire plot of a movie or project in five words or less. High concepts usually used a word heavily laden with meaning the listener already has and then qualifies that meaningful idea with one more idea. One of my favorite old cartoons Inspector Gadget could have a high concept of “Get Smart for kids” for example. Get Smart itself might be described as “James Bond as a idiot.” High concepts also can become an important way of unifying people within an organization to a singular vision. As Heath and Heath give the example “the low cost airline” is not just a slogan for Southwest Airlines but their entire philosophy for doing business.
I’ll be talking more about high concepts in my storytelling learning laboratory session Monday afternoon at the NEHA AEC in Tucson, and why they are so useful to storytellers in EH. But the NEHA meeting has a theme struck by the Keynote Who are We and What do We Want to Be? In the Keynote, we will be talking some specifics. I’m interested in the Who are we? question in terms of high concepts. What could be some high concepts describing the identity of Environmental Health Practitioners? What high concept could unify our vision of EH?
So let’s brainstorm a few! Leave a comment below of your high concept. Keep it to less than ten words. Don’t explain yourself. If you want, you can comment on other people’s ideas.
Ladies and Gentlemen, start writing those high concepts!