Repetition Legitimizes

There is a saying in music: Repetition legitimizes. It’s an interesting concept which has applications in other fields – including marketing.

Let me explain.

Sit down at a piano and play four random notes. Is that a song? Likely not a very good one.

Now play those four notes again (the same notes), and then move up an octave and play them again. Repeat this an octave lower.

You’ll notice that a pattern starts to emerge and your random playing has now turned into a fragment of a song.

Your once random activities start to look more organized.


Now clap your hands in a steady 1-2-3-4. Repeat.

Now, count in your head while only clapping on the 2 and the 4. And, finally, instead of hitting the 2 and the 4 exactly, try to clap just a bit behind the beat. It’ll likely start to sound like you are just clapping off time. And, in reality you are.

But, if you can consistently play through a song and hit the 2 and the 4 off beat in a consistent manner your mistake has now become a style. 

Repetition legitimizes.

I give little kudos to Donald Trump. But, wrong or right he knows how to build a brand and he knows how to use the concept of repetition to legitimize his ramblings.

“Make America Great Again” is a tagline that is not based in fact. America has never been in a better position in history. Crime, poverty, health etc – all indicators have improved from a long-term perspective.

By repeating this statement over and over again Donald Trump was able to legitimize this statement until people start to say, “Hey, yeah, we need to improve this horrible situation!”

He did the same through his repetition of ‘Crooked Hilary’.

Say something enough on a mass scale and people will start to believe it.

No matter how ridiculous.

This can be a dangerous concept.

Or it can be one used for good.

Repetition legitimizes.