Clarity is not about everything in focus at the same time. It is about zooming in on what’s important and keeping that in focus. No one can see all things clearly at the same time.
There are some who claim they can multitask many diverse tasks at the same time. However, the reality is that they are sequentially processing portions of different tasks until completion.
For example, some claim that they are working on email, spreadsheets, web browsing, while chatting with friends on mobile messaging and social media at the same time. The truth is, they are working on email this minute, browsing a site the next, entering numbers in the spreadsheet thereafter, and in between, sneaking in a message or two on their social media and mobile phone. It may seem convenient to claim superpowers of “multitasking” when confronted by bosses, but let’s not kid ourselves. We are human after all.
Likewise, in the field of filmmaking and photography, some would claim that there is a singular rule governing how images should look like. Some might claim that images must be sharp from center to edges, and that everything should be in focus. The reality is that there is no “best” image for film or stills, as everything is subjective. Observe some of the best scenes in a motion picture or a still, and you may notice that the background is often blurred out a great deal, so that our focus is on the main subject in the still or film. This is often achieved with a “fast” lens with a wide aperture, which can deliver images with a shallow depth-of-field (DOF). Fast lenses on a typical four-third, APS-C or full-frame system might be F/2, F/1.4 or even F/0.95 for more expensive lenses. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture can be and the DOF will be shallower.
In the same manner, marketing campaigns, or news messaging, cannot be delivered where everything is “in focus”. We need to deliver campaigns and messaging that zoom in on one singular area for our audiences and readers to focus on. A product typically have many features and benefits, and all these are important. But we need to zero in and be incisive about what is the most important benefit or feature of our new product, and bring that out in individual campaigns. That is what clarity should be, and not keeping every single minute detail in focus, and thereby, blurring the focus of our intended audiences.
It is perfectly acceptable with a blurred image as long as we are intentionally bringing focus to a single area of the image. Some of the best images are creatively shot that way.
It is also perfectly wise to bring a laser focus to our marketing campaigns and product messaging so that our audiences are guided towards what we hope they can remember. After all, too many details confuse and confound, and the best marketing messages are simple, catchy, singular, and memorable.
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.