One of the biggest debates in North America right now has nothing to do with politics, religion, or world affairs. No, this one is pitifully mundane — but strangely as polarizing as your vote in the 2016 presidential election.

I hear Laurel.

If you’ve browsed social media at all in the past 24 hours you understand the reference.

And, if so, you’ve probably already decided whether you think I’m crazy or sane.

We’re collectively obsessed over Yanny vs. Laurel.

And while I’m happy to promote #TeamLaurel, there are just as many people on #TeamYanny

What’s This Yanny vs. Laurel Nonsense?

In a surprisingly short time, an audio clip has sparked a raucous online debate. The debate started on Reddit this week, and it has since exploded, notably on Twitter.

Take a listen. Do you hear “Yanny” or “Laurel?”

People simply cannot agree.

The New York Times sought help from a scientist, Jody Kreiman. Kreiman a principal investigator at the voice perception laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggested “the acoustic patterns for the utterance are midway between those for the two words.”

“The energy concentrations for Ya are similar to those for La,” she said. “N is similar to r; I is close to l.”

The Verge consulted  Lars Riecke, an assistant professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience at Maastricht University. He said the “secret is frequency. The acoustic information that makes us hear Yanny is higher frequency than the acoustic information that makes us hear Laurel.”

Some of the variation may be due to the audio system playing the sound. But some of it is also the mechanics of your ears, and what you’re expecting to hear.

Online, plenty of non-scientists are trying to sort the issue by manipulating the bass, pitch or volume of the clip.

The Meaning of Life Yanny vs. Laurel

But does it really matter why a person hears what she hears? Or is the bigger issue that people perceive reality in different ways, for a whole slew of reasons?

That’s a fact that should resonate with every marketer struggling to deliver exceptional brand experiences.

In short, everyone thinks their perception is reality.

So it doesn’t matter whether your customer hears Yanny or Laurel. What matters is that your organization is empathetic enough to appreciate either perception.

As Arke Co-Founder and CMTO Chris Spears explains, exceptional experiences flow from empathy, a willingness to adopt the perspective of the customer, and the strategic use of the right technologies,

“You have to walk in your customers’ shoes and feel what they experience,” he said. “Technology just enables your strategy. It’s not a silver bullet.”

Spears said companies and brands today are challenged to “differentiate products or services that look very similar to 100 other products or services.”

The solution is competing on experience, he said. “At an experience level, you can create something that’s unique. Customer experience will continue to evolve. But one thing is clear. Success today depends on the way you make your customers feel, regardless of the business you are in.”

Embracing Your Customer’s Individuality

“Perception is reality to the one in the experience,” author Danielle Bernock said. As experience providers, there is nothing more important for companies to understand.

Like the Yanny vs. Laurel debate, you cannot force a person to hear what you hear. You can only work in spite of differences in perspective to resolve misunderstandings and improve the experiences you provide.

Good customer experience, PwC concludes in a new report, “minimizes friction, maximizes speed and efficiency and maintains a human element, embedded within the automation, AI or other technologies. It leaves consumers feeling heard, seen and appreciated. It has a tangible impact that can be measured in dollars and cents.”

The challenge is keeping up with your customers — because what concerns them constantly changes.

For More Information

Could your company benefit from better brand experience? Contact Chris Spears for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.