A good sound engineer is a marvel to watch. The pace they work at is incredible. They hear a problem, fix a problem, test the fix, and fix it again before you even notice the song had stopped in the first place. But it’s not just slick skills – it’s a necessity that we could all learn from.
In the world of sound production, it’s a race against time for objectivity. The longer you spend listening to a song in the studio, the further you drift from what the audience will actually hear. Every time you hear that drumbeat on your 500 quid headphones, it becomes less and less like the first time you heard it. It takes on different meanings, you notice tiny subtle details, you start to obsess over details that don’t matter, you stop noticing big things that do matter – and in the end you upset the overall balance of the song. Without even notice you’re doing it.
And the same goes for creative development. In the months a campaign or identity takes to develop, it can be almost impossible to keep a grasp on objectivity. We’re human. We can’t stop ourselves smoothing out all the rough edges and unusual details in the idea – changing a headline here, an image there. At last, every single part of our mix is unobjectionable.
This is when you know your idea is dead.
Because there’s no such thing as a diluted idea – there’s just a dead idea. Even the best lager in the world tastes rubbish when you dilute it.
Unfortunately, the audience never get to see all the strategy and conversations and initial thinking behind an idea. They haven’t heard the drumbeat a hundred times before. They’re not interested in what went into it. They don’t even care about the end result – they just happen to see it in passing. And boring and perfectly sanitised just won’t cut it. The only way to cut through is with a sharp idea. An idea without the edges smoothed off.
If you find yourself sanitising your ideas into boredom, don’t worry it’s natural. Just take the subjectivity out of it. You don’t personally have to like every little detail. Come back to your strategy – is this right for our brand? Does this reinforce the one sharp thing we want to be famous for? If the answer is yes, hit the big green button before you change your mind…