Laurel, Yanny, PITA

If you’ve been on


the last couple of days you’ve probably seen the post gone viral about




. It’s the 2018 equiavalent of

the dress

—which I thankfully managed to ignore.

Here is a recording made by an opera singer–and original cast member in Cats–in New York in December 2007 for the launch of

After listening to the recording, you either heard the word





What Brand Is Your Vase?

 I’m not going to go into the logistics of how all of this went viral, you can read that story


.  However, what you need to know for the purposes of branding your interior design firm, is that scientists have an explanation for why each of us hears something different. The audio clip is known as an “ambiguous figure”. Like Rubin’s Vase, it’s an optical illusion.

Instead of being for your eyes, the recording is an auditory illusion for your ears. No matter what you hear, no answer is more correct than the other. A lot of different frequencies were captured in the recording and our brains choose which to emphasize, which to pay attention to.

People who hear yanny tend to hear higher frequency sounds and people who hear laurel, who resonate with the lower frequency. It also may have to do with your age. When older adults start losing their hearing, it’s usually within the higher-frequency range, so more young people hear yanny.

Speakers, headphones, filters and acoustics in the room are also contributing factors but what I’m more interested is what this means when it comes to communication with other people, especially with a client who is a PITA (pain in the a * *).

Maybe they are listening to what you say? Maybe you did tell them over and over again why what they want won’t work. But no matter how many drawings and moodboards or spreadsheets, you keep saying laurel and they keep hearing yanny. They literally cannot hear what you say because like those two words, you each come in on a different frequency.

Your PITAs aren’t wrong for the way they see the word, but they are not a fit for you, or the way you do business. No matter how tempting the potential money or the portfolio pictures may be, the more experienced you get, the harder it is to ignore those subtle clues of frequency. If you did a gut-check the first time you observed one, your inner GPS would direct you to run, now.

It’s why I take the work of helping my clients to define their ideal, their dream clients, very seriously.

What about you, do you know who your ideal client is? Hint, the answer is not baby boomer or millennial!

What are you doing about finding them?

What about marketing to them strategically?

Laurel or yanny?

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