Magic numbers

You might think the 11 herbs and spices used by Colonel Sanders is a simple calculation of the ingredients required to create the world-famous deep-fried bird. But, according to consultant Greg Rowland from The Semiotics Alliance, you’d be wrong, because in the world of numerical symbolism, 11 supposedly has mystical powers. So which attributes do we ascribe to other numbers? And why? 

WNYC’s RadioLab delved into this subject recently with a fascinating podcast featuring Alex Bellos, author of the new book The Grapes of Math, and discussed how, “from the very first time humans ever used numbers, we couldn’t help but give them human-like qualities”.

From favorite numbers to numbers that we’re suspicious of, from 501 jeans to Oxy 10, our feelings for these digits may all come down to some serious, subconscious inner-math….a deeply human arithmetic buried in our heart.

So if you’re a marketer planning to harness the power of numbers in your comms, which one should you use? Well, one is supposedly seen as strong and masculine, two is warm and more feminine, and seven is a universal favourite.

Most of the world follows the seven-day week. In China, the number seven is linked to good luck. In the Bible, there are seven sins. We’ve got seven seas, seven brothers, even seven dwarves … the list goes on and on. 

Speaking of numbers, this is an unmissable opportunity to tell the world’s best joke: what did the zero say to the eight? Nice belt. 

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