“Clarity equals Capacity minus Contamination”. This notion is the thesis of Jamie Smart’s The Little Book of Clarity, and it is a principle we’ve taken to heart at our studio. We believe the reason brands hire us is to help them achieve strategic clarity—in fact, this notion gets to the heart of our Coherence Method. It is only with a clear brand position, specific audience focus, and cohesive marketing plan that a brand can truly flourish. So let’s dig into our take on clarity in the context of capacity and contamination.
a. the amount that something can produce.
b. the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something.
The time and ability to give one’s focused attention to solving a problem can often feel in short supply in most businesses. We find ourselves mired in hours of video conferences and an unending stream of emails, direct messages, and social media notifications pulling at our attention. Then at the end of the day, we feel exhausted without having accomplished much.
Through the Coherence Method, our capacity to think deeply about customer analysis and marketing strategy allows brand executives to sync their organizations around a meaningful differentiation, a well-defined core audience, and the insights to bridge the two. Our capacity to have extended conversations with their customers, synthesize what we hear, and translate that into a coherent strategy becomes invaluable.
Cal Newport, in his book Deep Work, notes that executives are valuable for their ability to be decision makers more so than their ability to think deeply about any one topic. By partnering with us on developing a coherent plan, they gain the capacity to make confident decisions to their fullest capacity.
a. the action or state of making or being made impure by polluting or poisoning.
Organizations exist with some combination of group think, politics, power maneuvering, “yes” people, gossip, and personal agendas. Contamination can come in the form of misaligned business goals and objectives. You might also find too narrow of a focus on short-term metrics without a long-term vision. For instance a VC-backed company might be more interested in new client adoption than client retention. This is a contamination inside the organization.
Luckily, we innately have the ability to see beyond the contamination. As Smart says:
…behind all our contaminated thinking, the endless river of THOUGHT is still flowing, carrying the powerful resources of innate clarity, resilience, and well-being to the surface of our awareness; bringing fresh new thinking to solve our problems and create new possibilities.
As a studio, it’s our job to help clients and their customers tap into those deeper thoughts beyond the contamination, to keep asking “why?” to get at the root of a need, desire, behavior, or anxiety. We find long-form interviews are the best way to make this happen. And the insights we glean from those conversations become the core of our strategy recommendations and the basis for messaging, campaign development, and content creation.
Ask yourself which scenario, if you could only pick one, would you bet on to grow your business long term?:
a. $100,000 in advertising
b. 100 hours talking to your customers
a. the quality of being coherent and intelligible.
b. the quality of transparency or purity.
True clarity comes when strategy, messaging, and campaign executions are all aligned under a unified understanding of purpose driven by an empathic relationship with the core customer.
At Room 214, this is best exemplified in the form of the Coherence Statement, a simple, easy-to-recall, one-page alignment document to focus resources and drive all marketing activities around the same purpose. Without this shared clarity of vision, goals, and activity, businesses will find it extremely difficult to scale.
But it’s true, markets change, brands evolve. Luckily, clarity is not a static, one-time thing. Each of us has the capacity to grow, adapt, and improve.
Just like there is no way to “un-stale” a loaf of bread, there’s no way to freshen thinking that’s past its use-by date. Fortunately, the principles behind clarity are like the baker’s oven. They’re always ready to produce fresh, new thinking as soon as it occurs to you that you won’t find the answer in what you’ve already thought.
We believe clarity is a natural state, but it is often overridden by contamination and a lack of capacity. It takes courage to pause, reflect, and find ways to address and remove the contamination that swirls around so much of modern work. We designed the Coherence Method to help brands to just that. So if you’re feeling frustrated with your brand’s lack of focus, let’s chat—it may be time to reclaim your clarity of vision.