You know how dogs start howling for no apparent reason and then all of a sudden you hear a siren in the distance? At some point, that siren is simply beyond human hearing. It’s Fido’s secret. Fido clearly hears it. It hurts. Fido howls.

When you’re in a group and you have an idea or a thought. It could be anything. A visual. A concept. A headline. You understand it. You groove on it. You know what you’re talking about.

But no one else does.

That “thing” is your siren. It’s going off in the room. It’s loud. You hear it. It’s telling you “this is really cool!” But no one else hears it. It is the ultimate in subjectivity and isolation. You’re the dog in a room full of humans.

I coined this phrase “dogs and sirens” when reviewing logo designs with a graphic designer. I would ask him why he designed something and why he liked it. When he gave me his reasons, I would just look at him and say, “I don’t get it.” His explanations were things no one else would see or understand in the design choices he made. All well-intentioned and purposeful. But ungettable or imperceptible to others. And if no one else in the room gets it, consumers won’t either. So I would tell the designer to drop it.

When you have something you dig, something you think is great — and no one else in the room gets it — you’re the dog hearing sirens. And the siren will go unheard.