There’s an incredible podcast collection from Vox Media referred to as “Land of the Giants.” Over the previous few years, it has lined Google, Netflix, and Amazon. This yr, Peter Kafka is speaking about Apple, and in one of many early episodes, he remembers a speech Steve Jobs gave shortly after he returned to Apple in 1997. Jobs wasn’t even CEO on the time, however he was speaking to an employee town hall.
Throughout it, he talked about making Apple a great brand. It was one thing he was captivated with as he talked about different nice manufacturers, one in every of them being Nike. I had forgotten concerning the quote, however it’s value one other look. This is what Jobs stated:
Nike sells a commodity, they promote footwear. And but whenever you consider Nike you’re feeling one thing completely different than a shoe firm. Of their advertisements, as you understand, they do not ever speak concerning the product, they do not ever discuss their air soles, how they’re higher than Reebok’s air soles. What’s Nike do of their promoting? They honor nice athletes and so they honor nice athletics. That’s what they’re about.
Technically, Jobs used seven phrases to focus on it, saying “they do not ever speak concerning the product,” however I believe you possibly can sum it up with simply two: “no merchandise.”
It is unusual to think about a advertising technique constructed round these two phrases. It is much more unusual to suppose that Apple may need to copy that technique because it was additionally within the enterprise of promoting, you understand, merchandise.
Give it some thought: Nike sells footwear, one of the primary commodities. It does it, nonetheless, by portray an image of a fascinating future. Its advertising by no means talks concerning the merchandise, it talks concerning the people–the heroes, and champions, and on a regular basis athletes who’re striving to carry out at their greatest.
Jobs wished Apple to do the identical. On the time he was talking to Apple workers, the corporate was in a a lot completely different place. This was earlier than the iPhone, earlier than the iPad, and even earlier than the iPod or iMac. Jobs had simply returned to the corporate a decade after having been compelled out, and Apple–by all accounts–had misplaced its means. It was shedding the house PC battle badly and was operating out of concepts and cash. Its model suffered as nicely.
Jobs’ phrases have been aspirational. He wished to color the image of a fascinating future for the corporate, however in doing so, he identified one of the highly effective advertising methods for connecting with prospects. Sarcastically, it is the identical factor: aspiration. Jobs was portray Apple as an aspirational model, similar to Nike.
That was the core of the Assume Completely different marketing campaign. It celebrated the creatives, or, because the well-known tv advert referred to as them, the “loopy ones.”
The advert was set to a collection of photos of visionaries and historic figures akin to Ghandi, Richard Branson, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr., Einstein, and Amelia Earhart. (The model that aired on tv was narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, however the version narrated by Jobs himself is value a watch.)
The marketing campaign outlined who Apple wished to be, with out speaking concerning the merchandise in any respect. A collection of images options black and white pictures of most of the identical iconic figures, with the Apple emblem and “Assume Completely different” tagline.
It wasn’t about merchandise, it was aspirational. It was a celebration of people–the kind of individuals Apple wished to affiliate its model with, and the kind of individuals with whom its viewers wished to be related.
That marketing campaign remodeled Apple from an organization that had largely made boring beige computer systems, into the corporate that would–in just some months–introduce the iMac. On the time, the iMac wasn’t the very best or costliest laptop you would purchase, however it was essentially the most aspirational.
It was just a few years after that that the corporate launched the iPod, which remodeled how we hearken to music. Then, a couple of years later, the iPhone modified mainly all the things about how we work together with computer systems, and with one another. A yr later, Apple launched the MacBook Air, which redefined how virtually each laptop computer seems and feels. That is true at this time, some 13 years later.
Apple finally moved past “Assume Completely different,” however the technique is similar. iPod advertisements featured colourful silhouettes of dancing individuals with iconic white earbuds dangling from their ears. iPhone advertisements characteristic individuals taking images and capturing movies of the issues they care about most.
Certain, these are merchandise, however they’re no much less aspirational. My level is that Steve Jobs best concept was that Apple ought to be an aspirational company–something that continues to be true at this time. It began with an unconventional, however sensible, two-word technique from Nike.