This post first appeared more than four years ago on this blog. Recently, I’ve had several conversations with clients and staff that have reminded me of this post. I thought it would be worth sharing with you again. Here it is:
I just attended a conference where Boris Brott, one of Canada’s most famous symphony conductors was a keynote speaker. In his speech, he noted that in the history of music, there are only 12 notes. He also noted that most musical compositions only use 5.
Despite all of the creativity, the beauty, and the memories for which music has been responsible, it has a very simple foundation. I realized how much businesses could learn by looking at the composition of music. Every musical composition from the most nuanced, classical music, to rock, rap and reggae involve the same 12 notes.
Companies are constantly trying to “differentiate” themselves. They are constantly trying to “add value” and to “innovate.” Too often, companies make life complex for the sake of making things complex. They claim the complexity is necessary so that their clients and prospects will understand how they are different. The reality is the complexity just further commoditizes the business.
No one will mistake Beethoven’s compositions with Bruce Springsteen’s. They are clearly different, and they use the same 12 notes. Apply this principle to your marketing and product development. Simplifying can be the greatest differentiators of them all.
What could you simplify? Where are you being unnecessarily complex? What notes should you be playing?