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#GettingToKnow the bravest sonic branding creative director of all

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Imagine if you could listen to music all day and make a creative career out of that. That is precisely what Karolina Namyslowski's 'typical' day looks like – though making a routine out of creation doesn't come without costs.

Having studied Musicology, Music Informatics and Cultural Studies, Karolina joined amp as an intern eight years ago. She is now in the rather unique position of being a creative director for a sonic branding agency.

When she started there were no sub teams, no women on the team for around four years and most of their clients were doing sonic branding for the very first time – in most cases they had never heard of a sonic branding project before. It was soon clear that Karolina was a force to be reckoned with, and from there she was able to carve out her own role among the ranks of the agency.

Today we are Getting to Know Karolina Namyslowski, sonic branding Creative Director at amp.

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

I am the Creative Director at sonic branding agency amp, where I also lead the whole of the creative team. I wouldn’t call it a typical day, but what all days have in common is listening to a lot of music and providing creative direction towards the right sounds for our international clients. 

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

  1. Making creation a routine 
  2. Fear of success
  3. Talking about technical subjects with clients and agencies who are not trained or equipped to do so. A key part of my role is to decrypt spur of the moment opinions and feelings into concise and actionable outcomes. 

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What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

Music has always played a central role in my life. I was exposed to music from the very beginning with my dad playing several instruments and his collection of vinyl’s. I started learning the piano when I was five and music became an even more important part of my life in my teenage years, using music as a form of expression and identification. 

After graduating high school, I studied Philosophy, Musicology, Music Informatics and Cultural Studies to help turn my passion into a profession. All parts of my background – personal and academic – helped me grow into my role as a creative in sonic branding. Analytical skills (Musicology), audio-technical background (Music Informatics) paired with a solid education in culturally relevant topics prepared me for my career path with amp. 

This multi-faceted background not only helped me find my place, but also helped to define and establish my role in the creative and music industries which are male dominated. 

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?

My biggest win was jumping up the ladder from an intern to the first and only female in a leadership position at amp. My biggest loss is my free-time – this job, as is any creative job, is not a 9-5 one. 

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Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

The essence of creativity is about connecting dots that weren’t there before. Creatives make connections other people don’t – it’s about combining existing things nobody has ever seen before and giving a new opinion on something old. 

Rather than looking for inspiration from other individuals in the music and creative industry, I turn to many different sources such as design, art, travel, food and obviously music, old and new to generate fresh ideas. What helps me personally break out of a creative rut is people watching and changing my environment and setting. 

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?

Not at all, the only thing I regret is stopping piano lessons at the age of 16.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would probably be a cab driver! At least that’s what the professors in my Philosophy classes told us, following the running joke of “there’s no real chance of finding a proper job after graduating from Philosophy studies.” 

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What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

I hope that brands continue to understand and learn the strategic and financial benefits of sonic branding. Brands should walk their talk. You claim to be progressive? Then be progressive, be brave and stop going with the safest creative options. 

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?

Passion and endurance – successful creatives don’t just become successful overnight or because they hit a magical break. They become successful because they get up every day, listen, learn and adapt. Getting where you want to be is often not a sprint, it’s a marathon. 

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty.” – Erich Fromm

Creative jobs require letting go of what is safe and certain and thinking outside of the box. 

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What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

Be a chameleon – adapt and improve your leadership style, your creative approach, perspective, medium, channel. You need to be green? Become green but become a green chameleon and stay true to yourself. 

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

It’s not always sunshine, rainbows and kumbaya, but the right team culture will help you handle any kind of challenge. A good culture should guide, direct, motivate, inspire, nurture and stabilise each individual.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Having a range of different sources is vital for gaining inspiration in any industry, and some that are not directly related to the sonic branding world are necessary. I personally like magazines like Nomad Magazine, which takes inspiration from forward thinking approaches used by creative visionaries, eco-pioneers, artists, authors, architects, entrepreneurs and designers worldwide. 

I also warmly recommend podcasts such as Monocle on design. 

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