How’s your bokeh? For you marketers out there, it’s a valid question. According to Wikipedia, “bokeh is the blur, or aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.”

Maybe you’ve never heard the term, but your spell checker won’t flag it. In lay terms, it’s often why someone says, ‘wow, that’s a great picture of you.’ Technically, it’s about aperture, circle of confusion and quality of the glass. Good bokeh claims importance, if not the importance, in why you and I might admire a photograph. It often has nothing to do with the actual subject in the photo unless you argue that bokeh is the subject.

While there are many high-end lenses that can produce good bokeh, the most popular glass seems to be the Canon 50MM 1.2 L or the 135MM 1.4L. Most any Leica will do. The inherent qualities that produce good bokeh is why some glass is $1,900 and other seemingly similar lenses sell for $399. The ability to render good bokeh separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

Bokeh can evoke emotions and a sense of movement. Subtle bokeh directs the eye to the subject, while loud (bad) bokeh distracts and competes with the subject. Personally, I think Jimmy Johns has the worst store bokeh in the world; you have to shout above 135db grunge rock to spend your money.

So, back to marketing. One good use of the bokeh metaphor is describing a showroom, for example, an Apple showroom, where the background is pleasing but the product really stands out. Or perhaps, you enjoy a restaurant (not Jimmy Johns) as much for the ambiance as you do the food. In comparing two very similar products, you select one based not so much on the product per se, but because the company is known for excellent customer support and a no-questions-asked return policy. You might say that the product has good bokeh.

One more. Our team at Murdoch Marketing tends to make me look good (an increasingly difficult task, by the way) even though they are in the background during many of my client contacts. They are the ones who make sure questions are answered, details are addressed, and our business functions like the top-notch agency it is. They are the ones who give me great research, concepts, designs, and videos that I am more than happy to present.

Like I said, it’s not me. It’s my bokeh.