Sexy Data

The Beatles – Their Fab Four Persuasion Frames

18 Mar 2017

People love The Beatles, even after all these years. Why’s that? Well; they knew how to write a good tune, that’s for sure. But their lyrics also make their mark on their emotional longevity. We asked Bob, our word-geek robot, to listen to all the Beatles LPs to find out why.

A lot’s already been written about how they sang less about themselves as they progressed. That’s less ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and more about other people, like those perambulating ‘Penny Lane’.

But Bob’s discovered two new elements of their song-writing: their attitudes towards change and their main persuasion frames.

The Beatles and Change

You might guess a band writing ‘You think you want a revolution’ would want radical change. But no. The Beatles write about radical change at only 17% the level you get in normal conversations. In fact, anything revolutionary appears only on the White Album. But they don’t hark back to the past either, like folk or country bands do. They write 15% less about tradition than we’d expect to hear.

The Beatles focus on evolutionary change. They make us feel everything’s getting better all the time. They write about evolutionary improvement 31% more than the rest of us normally do.

Four Fab Persuasion Frames

As the Beatles themselves evolved, they began writing more and more persuasive lyrics. This graph shows how much more persuasive, measured against the average for their LP-making career (=100). There are two big outliers from the trend: With The Beatles and Yellow Submarine. Lennon called With The Beatles, “The closest thing to us before we became the clever Beatles”. And Submarine had lots of instrumentals and previous songs thrown together to fulfil a contractual deal for a third film.

You can see, with the exception of Hard Day’s Night, Rolling Stone readers prefer the more persuasive stuff. So how do The Beatles persuade? Bob has uncovered four fab persuasion frames running through their thinking.

The first is about a metaphysical world beyond the everyday. They love us to dream. And they ask us to imagine magical mysteries. This is a wonderful world, beyond our ordinary. But they also connect to a place where people are separated, sad and lonely. This second big concern for disconnected loneliness shows their compassion (Eleanor Rigby anyone?). And it also connects with us all in some way – ultimately every man and woman is an island. The Beatles seek to end loneliness by connecting us to others physically, especially by holding hands. And holding people close. This third theme of embodiment around hands and hearts was huge up to Rubber Soul – and it raises its head again on The White Album.

Finally, their fourth big frame is littleness. They liked things small. Much of the time this is their taste in girls. But in Sergeant Pepper those holes in Blackburn, Lancashire were rather small. And Lovely Rita’s had a little white book and looked a little like a military man.

So there you have it. The Fab Four focused on evolving change with four core persuasion frames.

Perhaps it’s time your brand voice evolved and connected to the hearts of your customers?

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