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The Value of Meaning (As Taught By a Sound Wave Tattoo)

I was walking up the stairs of my apartment complex, when I saw this girl with a tattoo at the top of her shoulder.  I noticed it was a sound wave, so I asked her what it was.

She said, it was the last voice message her Grandfather ever left her.

Immediately, I thought, “That tattoo is now priceless because it actually means something.”


Meaning is one of those intangible values that most people desire, and yet it doesn’t cost a dime to incorporate…


It got me thinking about all the other ways one might use meaning to add and communicate value…

-For example, years ago, I read an article about a girl with synesthesia who sold her paintings on Etsy that were inspired by hit songs. You could own the visual representation of Coldplay’s “Yellow” or Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

All the positive associations (and corresponding memories) of those songs were instantly transferred to the painting.

That meaning was something that already existed in the eye of the beholder (and it was multiplied, because it was a multisensory experience.) The value of those paintings was multiplied as a result.


Then, I remembered the ultimate example of meaning, as a value-add – In 2007, Aerosmith made more money licensing their music for the video game, Guitar Hero, than they made on all their albums combined, because it was an experience.

Players got to hold up these fake plastic guitars and push a bunch of colorful buttons that made them feel like they were in the band…

That was the ultimate multisensory experience, combining visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modes of expression (and you got to feel as if you’re part of something you grew up hearing.)


So, when you incorporate meaning and things that matter to your audience, that’s a way of adding value (to the tune of priceless) without you having to work harder.

That value increases exponentially when:

A. You’re tapping into something that already exists in the minds and hearts of your audience or end-user.

B. That experience is multisensory, combining two or more of the senses.

C. You’re providing an experience that lets them in on the action and feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

In a nutshell, you can turn the ordinary (or even extraordinary) into something that’s priceless.

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