This one time, at Brand Camp – how to make your company play beautiful music

26th May 2017

Now I don’t profess to being a musician, it’s very much just a hobby for me, but I have always been interested in the concept of patterns, contexts and connections. You see them everywhere in life when you start to look – relationships, maths, art, culture, architecture, infrastructure, nature – everywhere.


The first time I became interested in this subject was in the 90’s when I bought a book on Chaos Theory and I saw Mandelbrot Set fractal images for the first time. I realised that everything was connected and it made total sense to me.


That’s around the same time I became interested in music, I followed a pretty standard entry route where I picked up a guitar, learnt a few chords, banged out a few songs without ever really knowing what I was doing. Then I started to play fingerstyle guitar where the bass and treble parts syncopated with one another, changing the whole feel of a sequence. I realised that a single note, although always sounding the same in isolation, sounds very different when it has a context to work within – when other notes are played around it, the ‘feel’ of that note completely changes, and a note on its own really has no value at all, it’s value comes from the context in which it is played with other notes.


The same is true of companies. If you imagine each person as a note, each department as a chord and each company as a song – you realise in order to make a song people want to listen to, you need to have all your notes played in a context that allows them to show their value, and within a chord structure that has a rhythm to it – which in turn creates a song people want to listen to.


The important aspect is the context in which those ‘notes’ can play together (notes being ‘people’ in my analogy in case I’ve lost you already). A note in isolation is never ‘right or wrong’ – it is sonically non-binary, it is only the context in which its played that could be thought of as audibly pleasant or unpleasant or ‘right or wrong’.


So the question is, if you’re the songwriter, are you enabling all your notes to play to their full potential, are your chords flowing together delivering your song in a way people can understand and engage with?


It’s hard to learn to play music, it’s frustrating, sometimes you feel you’re on an endless plateau of monotony and totally lacking any inspiration to play another note. But that is usually the price of doing something that is worthwhile – and if you’re in that place right now you need to stop, create space for yourself, take time away from ‘playing’ music, and just start ‘listening’ again – you might just re-discover the love for your song – or maybe even write an entirely new one.


Richard Botting

Strategy Partner