Duck, Duck, Goose: Harnessing the Power of “Three” in Marketing


“The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes — elements, colours and fonts.” Add another and we become overstimulated by the abundance of choice alternatives and loose focus. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the puddin’.

As a child, we were typically conditioned to group things in three: A,B,C; 1,2,3; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Trinity, Three Stooges, and Duck, duck, goose–just to name a few. “Then again, maybe these writers, animators and wise men understood the ease with which we understand ‘threes’ and reconstructed their work to fit this paradigm.”

Continuing with this idea, psychological studies reinforce the conceptual interpretations of  elements, fonts, and colors as the building blocks of visual communication. It is unwise to use more than 3 fonts in any sort of communication (i.e. brochures, websites, power-points, etc). It is also recommended to use no more than three distinct colors in your advertising campaign. It not only creates a unified look, but it centralizes the attention of your consumer.

Prove it, you say? My pleasure. Let’s look at some of the most iconic brands of America to date:

McDonald’s: The McLogo consists of two elements-The name McDonald’s and the Big Golden Arches. They use just one font, and just two colours — yellow and white (or black)

Coke: The Coca-Cola button that you see in most advertising, consists of three elements: the button itself, the bottle on the button and the Coke Logo. Even though it is a full colour image, the colours are minimal and there are just one or two fonts used.

I know what you are going to say, there are exceptions, and yes, Sherlock, there certainly are. Although my point is that traditionally the rule of three aligns with our psyche. Whether we were trained to respond to the three count by the examples given above or whether we inherently respond to the trifecta is a separate question, but one I would love for you to comment on. 😉

For now, I will leave you with this:

1. URBAN DICTIONARY: Power of Three
The combined powers of three entities, upon such combination not only increase their power by three, but much greater.