2 Min Read
The Odd Thing About Odd Numbers
For 100+ years, Heinz bottles of ketchup and other condiments have included the phrase “57 varieties.”
When H.J. Heinz first decided to slap the slogan on bottles, the company already had at least 60 products.
Heinz got the idea to use a number after he saw a New York City shoe ad boasting “21 styles.”
He picked 57, so the story goes, because it combined his lucky number (5) and his wife’s lucky number (7). Something about the number seven stuck with him. According to one biographer, Heinz said:
“58 Varieties or 59 Varieties did not appeal at all to me as being equally strong.”
Numbers Tell a Story
Heinz wasn’t wrong. Numbers are meant to be purely objective with no room for interpretation.
But that’s not how our brains work.
Just like the shape and sound of words impact how we perceive them, we associate different values with different numbers.
One major difference is in how we interpret even and odd numbers. Researchers looked at cleaning products and found that brands with an even number in the name were more attractive to consumers than those with an odd number. Consumers were even willing to pay more for them.
If that’s the case, why has 57 worked so well for Heinz?
The answer lies in knowing what emotion you want the number to elicit. Looking for a number that catches an audience’s attention and sticks with them? Go odd. Case in point: In one analysis conducted by Content Marketing Institute, headlines with odd numbers garnered 20% more clicks than those with even digits.
Looking to project a sense of stability and predictability in your brand name or service approach? Use an even number. There’s a reason Douglas Adams said “42” was the answer to the ultimate question in life.
There are other interpretations and connotations to consider when thinking about numbers and communications – as well as design.