Five characteristics of a good frame

Every one of us is faced with the concept of framing nearly every day. Politicians, the mass media as well a as your organization, supervisor colleagues or even the people in your surrounding will use frames. No matter if this is done implicitly or explicitly, you should be able to recognize such situations. On the one hand it will give you an advantage if you know that someone uses framing and on the other hand you can use this concept on your own for example in your daily business.

Within this article I want to give you a short checklist for good frames. I want to tell you five characteristics to evaluate them. If you want to prepare a frame, you could use this checklist. The aim of these criteria’s is to create a frame which is easy to understand, emotionally and stays in mind.

Frames are sticky

You should summarize your thoughts and the content of your request in one plain and simple statement. A good practice is to create a short and powerful sentence of only a few words. And during your talk or within your paper you should repeat this sentence several times.

You know these from politics. Politicians sometimes create such easy but powerful messages which stick in mind for many years. A sticky message should be the cornerstone of your frame, because your audience will have this sticky message in mind and will continue to reflect with the topic or even discuss it with others.

You intuitively agree with it

A good frame contains a main statement which cannot be refused. Intuitively the people have to think: you are right.

There is a villain

Directly or indirectly make the people who think in another way to the villain. This will help to strengthen your frame because your audience needs a villain. If you talk about an issue you must also introduce a solution. And in this case you could name a villain who is responsible for the issue.

Your opponent’s core values are at stake

If you undermine opposing arguments your opponent must answer. And in this case he must step into your frame. So he has to come into your territory which of course will give you an advantage.

Frame taps into societal undercurrents

Depending on the type of audience there are always some societal topics which will create strong emotions. You can use these topics and emotions to reinforce your statements. You can create very powerful statements, if the people connect these with facts and emotions.


A good frame should fulfill the following criteria’s:

  1. Frames are sticky
  2. You intuitively agree with it
  3. There is a villain
  4. Your opponent’s core values are at stake
  5. Frame taps into societal undercurrents
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