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Steve Jobs explains branding (youtube.com)
260 points by sz on Aug 27, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments

Apple's "Think Different / Change the World" ad was a brilliant piece of marketing. But it doesn't seem that really stuck as the core value of their brand. If Nike's message is "we hang around great athletes," Apple's message today is "we hang around the young and hip," [1] which is different than "we hang around people who change the world."

You could argue that these are somehow related, that the young and hip would be attracted by the Think Different ad. I don't dispute that. But the later ads of kids jamming with their iPod ear buds communicate a message that is much closer to the general perception of Apple as a brand today.


[1] In the clothing industry, this type of positioning wouldn't be noteworthy or distinguishing. But in consumer electronics, advertising more like Abercrombie & Fitch and less like IBM has worked out brilliantly for them.

[2] The pre-2000 perception of Apple's brand was also somewhat tangential to the idea of changing the world. Their core message was "we're not IBM." In the talk, Jobs mentions this shouldn't be their core message, but clearly it was. The 1984 ad reinforced this, and even the 1997 Think Different ad retrenched this ground by riffing off of IBM's motto.

[3] Edit: The idea that Apple's core customer is someone who "values their time" and is not a computer geek is meaninglessly broad. Every customer values his or her time, and in any mainstream industry, the vast majority of customers are not computer geeks.

[4] Edit: Was it the success of the iPod that made Apple hip, or was the perception of the iPod being hip part of what made it such a success? Clearly it did become a fashion accessory. The product's clean design was congruent with this message.

The strategy behind both Nike's and Apple's branding is much further expounded on in a great film called Art & Copy. I highly recommend it.

Nike's message is "just do it". It isn't about hanging out with athletes, it's appreciating aspiration and athleticism of all stripes [1]. Nike is a dominant enough clothing brand that they benefit from encouraging general athleticism. Their products are barely present in their branding, if at all.

Apple's message is (and has been) to "think different" and "we're here to help you change the world for the better". Sure, it appeals to the rebellious youth in people, but it also appeals to scientists, artists, and philosophers in search of new paradigms to overturn the status quo. The "think different" commercial isn't about their computers. It's a public service announcement sponsored by Apple.

1. Even when Nike puts Michael Jordan in a commercial, it isn't about "hanging out with him", but about overcoming fear of failure, and "just doing it": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45mMioJ5szc

PS: Just searched for "nike michael jordan commercial" for more, and found another brilliant piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBxcunGc_nA (again, I'd argue this is about appreciating the beauty of athleticism more so than "hanging out with Jordan").

> You could argue that these are somehow related, that the young and hip would be attracted by the Think Different ad. I don't dispute that. But the later ads of kids jamming with their iPod ear buds communicate a message that is much closer to the general perception of Apple as a brand today.

The Think Different ad was about Apple, the company. Kids jamming with their iPod earbuds was about the iPod. The Think Different ad was about revitalizing the Apple brand, and Jobs points out how the Nike ads aren't even about the product to explain the logic behind that ad, not to suggest that Apple was going to take that approach forever like Nike does. It makes sense that after they'd established the values they wanted associated with Apple, they'd return to product-centric advertising.

In 2008, ten years after the Think Different campaign debuted, six years after the slogan was mostly retired, and well after the earbud ads hit their peak, there was a study on whether flashing Apple or IBM logos faster than could be percieved could prime people to be more creative. The results suggest it's not really necessary for them to keep playing up that angle.


I won't say the restrictive policies governing iOS hasn't dampened the message somewhat for people like us, but you have to remember that a lot of it is about empowering people who aren't super great with computers and don't feel they have the freedom to use them the way anybody here does, because of their complexity and vulnerability. Remember that thread a little while back, where HNers were sharing stories about how some family member would write long lists of instructions just to do something like check their email?

The success of the iPod made the Apple brand young and hip, but their core customer has been (and may again become with the iPhone and iPad) people who value their time and are not computer geeks per-se. That's a difficult thing to say in a crowd of computer geeks, but may contextualize the iOS/Android debate around here.

We shall see how well it works out for them to be the brand for people who aren't fond of rules...computer geeks excepted. Computer geeks who want to change the world seek platforms with fewer rules.

> We shall see how well it works out for them to be the brand for people who aren't fond of rules...computer geeks excepted. Computer geeks who want to change the world seek platforms with fewer rules.

Geeks are such a small fraction of the market that they only matter as a function of influence. The success of desktop linux shows the "power" of said influence.

In other words, Apple can do just fine by telling non-geeks that choosing Apple means that they're technically advanced.

FWIW, geeks do like Mac laptops more than the market as a whole. The "geek cred" ad can leverage that if need be.

We shall see how well it works out for them to be the brand for people who aren't fond of rules...computer geeks excepted.

I think we see it pretty well already, no? People who think they can change the world aren't the kind who care whether or not Apple gave them permission to jailbreak their iPhone.

I think I can change the way the world tells its story with photos, and it bothers me that Camera+ and other 3rd-party iPhone apps can't write EXIF data; only the native app can. Yes, it sounds like a geeky objection, but it makes a difference to people's stories whether the photos can say when and where they were taken.

It's been awhile since I've done iPhone development, but it seems this is available starting in iOS4: http://developer.apple.com/iphone/library/documentation/Grap...

It's hard to find engineers who can work on products like iOS, so I think it's understandable if they can't get every nook and cranny of the API into v1.

It was recently that I heard somewhere that you couldn't write metadata to photos in the photoroll. I think the Camera+ authors have seen iOS4. So I wouldn't read too much into the existence of EXIF data structures in the documentation; it doesn't say what you can do with it.

I think the Camera+ authors have seen iOS4

Sure, but it doesn't mean they had time time update to use every of the 1000's of feature changes that came with it. This is why Flash as a competing platform is a terrible idea - it adds another stage of "rolling out <some feature> is blocked by <someone in another organization>".

> But it doesn't seem that really stuck as the core value of their brand. If Nike's message is "we hang around great athletes," Apple's message today is "we hang around the young and hip," [1] which is different than "we hang around people who change the world."

Sure, but Apple never hung around people who change the world, that wasn't their marketing message. Their marketing message was that people who change the world don't follow the pack, and at the time of this marketing message, the pack was Windows.

Also, the core value of the Apple brand is not "young and hip".

If you're nearing or over 30, ask yourself: have you made any fundamental scientific discoveries, conquered any world-wide empires, or founded any major religions? Many are called but few are chosen. And many of the young think they can. But as Steve covers himself, o cynical one, those are the ones who do.

An appeal to youth's vanity, yes; yet also the absolute true.

And let's not forget that there are people at Apple who actually are changing the world, with the "lame" ipod, the doubted ipad, and (the associated) pixar. That adds credibility; and the branding is also of Apple's identity to itself, for passionate workers, and to attract talent.

While watching the video, it was simple to agree on the analysis of Nike's brand/message. Then Jobs went to give Apple's message, and it struck me like as if he actually didn't know at the time. Compared with "honor great athletes" and "honor great athletics", the "we believe people with great passion can change the world for the better" seemed far too broad and general to be the actual message that people relate to with Apple.

I think Apple has actually made themselves several messages: they compare and contrast between the computer geek w/glasses to the normal person (computers for normal people), they target the "creative" crowd (cause rainbows and dancing is creative, numbers/math/text is not), and the combination of that brings the "popular" thing back to normal people (if you own Apple, you're not a geek, but you're still cool and not stupid).

Agreed. He really did sound like he was ad-libbing that line.

It's likely that the Think Different ads were targeted at early adopters back when Apple was reestablishing itself (with designers, architects, etc).

Then as it entered into the mainstream with consumer devices it targeted kids "jamming with their iPods".

Yeah, as soon as Apple removed "Computers" from their name they also stopped being a "tools for the passionate"-manufacturer. They now sell primarily media consumption devices.

Nothing wrong with that, it's just not the same core Jobs talks about in this video.

I thought an iPad was for consumption, not creation.

Then I found out it has not one, but two, complete office suites compatible with Microsoft Office. (Documents To Go, Pages, Numbers, Keynote).

Then I found out it could completely replace my guitar amp, with 5 different amps, 11 stomps, 5 cabinets, and 2 mics. (AmpliTube, AmpKit)

Then I found out it could do advanced photo editing. (PhotoGene, PhotoForge)

Then I found out it could create paintings for the cover of the New Yorker (Brushes, Layers)

Then I found out it could more quickly and easily do my homework than pen and paper could. (Penultimate)

Then I found out it could completely replace a DJ’s equipment. (Looptastic HD, AC-7 Pro, Pianist Pro)

These are just what I’ve come across in my relatively limited exposure to the iPad App Store, and even then only in my relative niches.

It’s still more than enough to tell me the invented dichotomy of “consumption vs. creation” for the iPad is completely false, yet somehow, it’s gained enough hold to generate just short of 4 million hits on Google.

So, next time some writer says you’ll need a non-existent PalmPad with a rumored stylus in order to do “real content creation”, or someone tries to equate a dedicated e-book reader to an iPad, or a competitor’s COO pretends their 9 year old “Tablet PC” initiative is somehow going to be better at content creation, using an operating system designed for a mice and keyboard, ignore it. They are relying on assumptions that aren’t born out from actually using the device and exploring the available software, or they are unaware of how young the platform is (it’s only been 7 months since developers were able to start programming for it, trust me, we’re only just starting to see real innovative apps released), or they are a competitor who is knocking on the iPad because they have to.

My iPad has replaced my notebooks, pens, paper, laptop, guitar amp, PS3, board games, and books. It will only be able to do more in the future.

After reading this comment, this is the first time I felt like I wanted an iPad. I never had a great personal use case for the iPad, but I'm starting to see what's possible with it.

Thanks for taking the time to write that up.

Yes, you can use it for creating but it's not its primary purpose. Just as you can use a laptop for reading books. The experience is just so much better on an iPad.

It's a "lean back" consumption device not a "lean forward" production tool.

Come to think of it, perhaps it's more like a "lean back" production device.

Come to think of it, perhaps it's more like a "lean back" production device.

Actually, I think it's more a slab of touchscreen with a minimalistic app manager. What you do with it is up to you ;)

Actually, this is one interesting spot that netbooks fill in the PC ecosystem as well. I use Kindle for PC all the time on mine, but then can still write blog posts, touchup images, etc. I'm not saying it's better or worse than an iPad, but it is filling a unique need, and I'm amazed how much different a computer feels when you can carry it around so easily (10 in. screen and <1kg) and still use it for a whole day. It's the promise of laptops, portable computing, fulfilled. And yes, it's way more a content consumption device, even though it's a PC. So there :)

The iPad is a tool like a torx screwdriver -- when you need to do something specific then it's awesome. (Perhaps even a multi-screw set -- when you load up different apps)

A computer is a tool that can make other tools.

The DJs at night clubs, the knob-twiddler guys in indie rock bands, and the film students at the local university are all using Macs to make their art. In fact, I'd say Apple's devices and the tools they create to publish to those devices have done a lot to make these creators' lives easier.

Think about how much more music people listen to thanks to the ubiquity of iPods. Would the indie rock movement have had as much traction if it weren't for all those college kids looking for something to fill their iPods?

Not to mention iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto, plus their professional-level counterparts in Final Cut, Logic, and Aperture.

Apple just released new versions of the iMacs. This used to be a major event and they made a lot of fuzz about each new update.

Now go to apple.com. What's taking up 90% of the front page?

Apple is a consumer device company. Sure, they still make great computers, but that's more and more just a side business.

The iMac update was a spec bump (and a particularly minor one at that). There's not a whole lot of marketing message there. They made a much bigger deal when the current enclosure was introduced and when they released the 27" iMac earlier this year.

Computers are consumer devices.

Remember, Jef Raskin conceptualized the Mac as an appliance. Steve wanted to make it as easy to use as a toaster.

This begs the question: why isn't an iPad a computer?

No floppy drive? ;)

Just kidding. Good question! I think it has to do with the fact that the natural home for a computer is the desk while the natural home for the iPad is the sofa or the bed.

It's interesting that Apple never uses the word "computer" in their iPad marketing. Nor do they use the word "tablet" much.

"iPad" is friendly. "Tablet computer" is "beep boop, processing..."

iOS devices are still honoring the core value of "giving people a way to change the world" if you consider how Apple is bringing customers to developers through the App store. Apple changed what is possible for a developer by giving them access to millions of customers, distribution, and a simple payment method.

Think Different was to keep their current users and the iPod campaign was meant to get the mass market. Both needed to be done to survive.

we hang around the young and hip

Is that not the same as Evian's slogan - live young, or pepsi's marketing way back to the younger people. Everyone wants to be young and perhaps hip, even really old people want to get into the beat. Not that many people really want to or aspire to change the world however. Let alone the older age group, say in their 40s.

for those who haven't seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jULUGHJCCj4 . As you said, a brilliant and motivational ad.

I think reading Apple's marketing as being about hip and cool says more about the anxieties and insecurities of the hacker culture than it does about what Apple is actually doing. In the first place, coolness is way oversaturated in advertising, trying to project a cool image is the fastest way to get lost in the noise. Authenticity is a much more important brand value to project than cool, and Apple succeeds at that.

I agree. For example, many people view the "Mac and PC" ads as being about uncool vs. cool -- I think the actual marketing message is more about technology-that-does-what-I-want vs. technology-that-doesn't-do-what-I-want[1]. The Mac in the ads is portrayed as transcending the petty hassles and inconveniences the PC gets caught up in, and letting the user simply accomplish their task with ease. It makes the Mac appear aloof and cool, but really it's just that he's portrayed as being at the finish line while the PC is still tying its shoes.

[1]: I mean "does what I want" in the "my mom can make a photo slideshow without tech support" sense, not the "I can install Linux on my iPhone if I want to" sense

What explanation do you offer for why the PC guy was just some suit and the Mac guy was a well-known, kinda funny young actor (certainly never in a suit)?

John Hodgman (the PC guy) is pretty well known and certainly funnier than Justin Long (the Mac guy). I think part of the effectiveness of the ads is that PC is portrayed as sympathetic, if somewhat clownish.

I'm basically reposting my comments on this video from my company blog...

The big takeaway is in the first few lines of this video:

"This is a very complicated world. This is a very noisy world and we're not going to get a chance... to get people to remember much about us. No company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us."

The whole branding/selling thing goes like this...

Lunch pitch ~15 minutes > Bar pitch: ~5 minutes > Elevator pitch: ~30 seconds > ?

That last one is your brand. It's the ultimate quick pitch. You've got 5 seconds, what do you want someone to know about you and what you do for a living?

If you don't know you're in trouble.

A company like apple does not have 5 seconds. People know about apple and their products much that they need to.

You give an elevator pitch if you are unknown to an investor. Perhaps a company which is unknown might have 30 seconds to tell the world - if they can afford it - who they are, so that they can get others to remember their brand.

Once their brand is remembered however, you have 30 seconds to maintain your statues quo. Like some Cadbury ads. If you remember the one with the gorilla drumming, it hardly tells us anything about Cadbury, let alone the most important thing. It just makes us feel well good and like Cadbury because unlike other adverts this one was quite cool and so Cadbury keeps being cool.

Wouldn't this just be a company's logo or slogan? (ie Nike: Just Do It).

Maybe it's because I'm in a cynical mood right now, but Steve Jobs looks like he's performing for an audience. I'd have loved to hear what people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates really think, but whenever these guys speak, I suspect that they compensate for the fact the people will be listening to them, and that what they say will influence their lives' work.

You're left with no other choice but to reverse-engineer their real philosophies from how the respective companies behave in the market.

Let me pass along "Art & Copy" as a suggested movie for those interested in marketing. They talk with agencies both for Apple (Chiat/Day) and for dairy farmers. http://www.artandcopyfilm.com - and on Netflix instant play.

Art & Copy does a great job at explaining why the Mad Men era was important - there was a shift in the 60's from large corporate sales-driven organizations to smaller ones where art directors and other "creatives" were in charge.

The parallels to today's startup scene are really strong, with people fleeing corporate cubicle farms and stale products to create fresh new stuff on small teams.

Great tip. I just watched it, awesome movie. It's full of advice for entrepreneurs.

It's Apple returning to the Big Why. It worked. Apple at the time was in deep trouble having been the "other PC" for too long. They moved away from their "why" to a "what" and they had copied the "what" of every windows PC at the time to abysmal failure.

This speech could have been part of a film "How Apple got its Groove Back".

The iPod ads have nothing to do with this "Think Different" campaign. The iPod ads maintained the "why" as in "Why do we produce these things?" Answer: For fun! For expression! For freeing you from the shackles of a 60 minute CD. For choice.

They didn't go on about what the iPod was (and the iRiver H100 series at the time was a far better machine and the one I chose). They instead went for why it was. That resonated with their audience. They then took that theme and ran with it with every product since.

And yet, just being fun and frivolous doesn't work for everything. Take a look at the iPhone ads; all about function through the app store... and yet withthat function they declare "Fun!". Take a look at the words they use; magical this and magical that. Meanwhile their competition tries to tout function this and function that... and price. Even HP now recognizes what Apple did right and they tried to rip it off with designer notebooks. Too bad that while they have the product the ads still suck (does HP advertise?)

Apple has nailed down what works in marketing for now. They control the mobile space. They control the music space. They have far greater impact on web development than their products have reach. If Adobe/Microsoft/Google ever "get it", watch out. But maybe that is Steve Jobs greatest asset. He knows that they don't "get it".

I have to admit, watching this video kind of killed the magic of the Think Different ad video.

From now on I will see it as a Nike ad rip-off. A good one, but still.

There is a big difference between those brands, Nike and Apple. There is a reason I use a Mac and I don't wear any Nike.

I bought early one of the most expensive Nike Air running shoes. The quality was total shit and running with them was a pain. I never bought a single pair of Nike shoes again, and I bought a lot of running shoes. There was nothing that Nike could fix, it was just the whole construction of the shoe that was a big fail. Plus it was their most expensive shoe at that time. It was way too soft, the Air sole lost its function early, the rubber was also soft and there was not much left after just a bit of running, it provided no stability at all, and the whole 'Air' was just hot air. The shoe could be used for walking around, but not for running. From running with them one would get all kinds of injuries because of its various construction failures. So the core function and the core value of that shoe, the essence of Nike, was zero. All the marketing money with fancy ads showing athletes was zeroed out.

I then kept running Adidas and currently I'm very happy with Brooks shoes.

I bought early an Apple IIc, then a Mac SE30, a PowerBook, and then a multitude of other Macs - typing this on a MacBook Pro. The quality was good (not always) and Apple tries to improve things (though not always). All in all it was and is fun to use their products.

In the end the 'brand' stuff for me is bullshit of the quality of the product is bad. Apple had some bad products, but it was never such a total failure at its core architecture as that Nike shoe.

He's wearing shorts!

I didn't notice it until 1:20 or so. Then you see that!

That commercial still give me goosebumps

At least at the time Jobs was thinking different himself. Very powerful idea and transformation for the company. Really planted the roots of what the company has become today. The ad itself is powerful even when watched now, 13 years later.

It reminds me of this scene from Madmen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suRDUFpsHus, on How to pitch a product.

Apple has a living, beating heart; That heart is Steve Jobs.

He is a megalomaniac, an obsessive driven by the desire to shape the world in his image. He is an artist whose canvas is metal and whose paint is code. Apple is simply a machine that turns Jobs' vision into reality. On Infinite Loop, his word is absolute.

You may love or hate that vision, but just you try and ignore it. Apple inspire many emotions, but very rarely indifference. That is the essential genius of Apple - of all computer companies, they and they alone seek not just to appeal to the intellect, but also to the emotions. No other computer company announces new products to rapturous applause. No other company attracts such vitriol, against not only themselves but their customers. No other company elicits gasps of delight and desire at their packaging.

Apple have done many things to frustrate me and anger me. They have made many decisions that I strongly disagree with. They have also made me cry with joy, on several occasions. To me, "Branding" seems far too mild a word.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndkIP7ec3O8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0FtgZNOD44

This video is awesome. Think Different is my favorite ad of all time. Unfortunately it feels like they have lost something in the last decade. While before it was about enabling passion and challenging the status quo, now it is more about reverence for old heroes. Before it was a call to arms to be inspired by those great men and women and do great stuff, now it is just to adore what they have done, while we continue to live life in our pods.

This makes me sad.

3:22. "The core value of Apple... is that we believe that people with passion... can change the world for the better."

A rare, wonderful and inspiring look inside the greatest marketing organization ever created.

Many businesses create Ogilvy style campaigns that sell benefits (rather than features). For example:

"Only Dove is one-quarter moisturizing cream"

"At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock"

Apple understands that they are essentially in a commodity business much like Nike. It's tough to sell benefits in that environment when your benefits are the same as everyone else's. In the market they're in, everyone already understands what the benefits are and most people can use a spreadsheet, word processor or web browser equally well on an Apple or PC.

What Apple did is create a new intangible and very powerful benefit with Think Different:

The words "Think different" translated into an Ogilvy style headline would say: "If you buy this product your friends and peers will think you are different and you will stand out from the crowd.". It's not possible to communicate that directly because it's an embarrassing subject. The Think Different campaign takes a wonderful indirect approach to addressing a sensitive issue and communicating that benefit.

This approach of creating a new intangible and emotional benefit in a commodity market has worked so well for Apple that they have incorporated the marketing approach into the entire organization including their sales strategy and their products. Whereas before their products focused on differentiated features, now they focus on emotional differentiation. Apple stores are an emotional experience.

Apple's smaller market share facilitates this approach because their customers have been the minority. So you're automatically "different" if you buy Apple. These days that is less true, so it will be interesting to watch the marketing organization evolve as their market dominance increases.

Here are my notes from the video:

1. Marketing is about values

2. You don't have much of a chance to get people to remember you.

3. You have to be really clear on what you want people to know about you.

4. A great brand needs investment and caring if it's going to retain it's relevance and vitality.

5. At the time of this video Apple's brand had suffered from neglect.

6. Don't talk about features.

7. Nike makes you feel something different from a shoe company.

8. Nike honors great athletes and they honor great athletics.

9. The question Apple asked was "Our customers want to know who is Apple and what is it that Apple stands for? Where does Apple fit in this world?"

10. Apple is not about making boxes to help people get their jobs done.

11. Apple's core value is that "We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better."

12. Apple is going back to their core value mentioned in 12.

13. "Values and core values mostly shouldn't change" ~Jobs

14. "The things that Apple believed at it's core are the same things Apple stands for today"

15. The ad is a way to communicate this.

16. Jobs is clearly and intentionally emotionally engaged with the ad and that engages his audience.

17. The ideas above were distilled into "Think Different."

That's a thoughtful post, but I think you got the wrong message out of it. Jobs wants to create computers for people who "think different" in a way that changes the world. He's not talking about it as a fashion statement as you imply when you say:

> The words "Think different" translated into an Ogilvy style headline would say: "If you buy this product your friends and peers will think you are different and you will stand out from the crowd."

tc's comment does bring up the fact that that's not what stuck, but it is what Jobs was trying to get at.

I think 6. is the most important point on your list. The rest can be summarized as "control your marketing message so your message stays the same over time" and "you don't sell on specs, you sell on emotions."

Steve Jobs is right about branding in this video, and it's for exactly these reasons that I'm not a big fan of Apple. Their core values are about dictating what developers can do with their hardware. Selling software shouldn't be about one person having the power to dictate what goes into a store. That's not a free market. Users shouldn't have to "jail break" their own hardware just to be able to use it as they wish. That's disempowering people with technology, not empowering them. I don't much care for those kinds of core values.

Its pretty sad to see that yes men of Apple vote you down, when you speak the truth and offer an intelligent start to a conversation.

Oh yeah, so sad. Those that agree with you are intelligent and speak the truth, those that not, are "yes men".

Forget me, I don't want to pop the bubble you live in.

Only someone like Steve Jobs could talk about core values and branding wearing shorts. It's only for a short instance where you can see his shorts. Right before he introduces the ad.

Here's what gets me:

The disconnect between that video at the end of his presentation versus Apple today.

"Think different... as long as we approve your application for download on the app store."

Admittedly a pretty cool video though.

This is a common view on HN, but I will suggest that you don't "get it." The AppStore may be a thorn in the side of some developers, but supports Apple's stated core value of enabling people who are passionate. The store reduces risk and variability, while rewarding (through ease of payment and reduced piracy (if you believe piracy to be a demotivator)) those who make great things for the end user.

Computer geeks are only one kind of passionate person. Apple's view is that annoying them is a small price to pay for making everyone else's experience better.

The App Store the is epitome of "Think Different".

It has done an astounding job of attracting developers to their platform, and no competing "Store" does a better job of connecting developers with actual users.

Yet there was no shortage of people who said it would never work, and there's still no shortage of people who keep saying they're doing it wrong.

I thought it was people saying they're doing a lousy job of explaining the rules of approval?

What he said.

If they're going to try to say to break out of your shell and be different and go crazy and be rebels (look at the people in that video, jeez) it's ironic that Apple now tells people what they can and cannot create.

"Think Different" could easily apply to the idea of a platform you don't need to run an anti-virus on otherwise deal with the quirks of a traditional desktop OS. Also let's not get too bogged down in nostalgia -- at the time of the "Think Different" ads the Mac was far more proprietary and closed than it is today.

But in fairness, in Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's time, the app store policies were even more restrictive - all apps were rejected, since there was no app store at all! I don't understand it myself, but somehow they were able to change the world despite not being able to create these apps. I totally agree that Gandhi's plan A was to make a Farmville-style game that let's you make illegal virtual salt, and MLK was going to make a SimCity game where you could control a character who refuses to sit at the back of the bus. This is historically documented. Obviously supporting mass protest and civil disobedience in such a safe, efficient, convenient way, so that people could do it whenever they had a spare moment, like waiting in line at the movies or the grocery store, is very threatening to the status quo. And the authorities refused to allow those kinds of apps (or any apps, or smart phones of any kind) because they were correctly seen as too powerful at creating widespread social change, too upsetting to the status quo.

Now, I know what you're going to say: "Yes, but we only are allowed to have smart phones because the authorities have found ways of neutralizing their subversive potential! The apps that are truly threatening will be rejected!" I admit this is true - powerful corporate lobbyists have sabotaged my own app where you earn points and badges for turning off lights and composting your trash because of how devastating this would be in their attempts to keep people mindlessly consuming.

I guess what I'm saying is, keep hope alive. Yes, Apple's authoritarian iron fist thwarts our attempts at changing the world, but remember that Gandhi faced similar struggles against the violent British colonial regime, and Martin Luther King faced death-threats, even finally being assassinated. Yes, we mourn all our fallen apps that have been "assassinated" or "lynched" by Apple's arbitrary app store policies, but we must not lose hope, we must continue the struggle and endure these heavy losses. History is on our side!

That was incredibly satisfying, thanks.

Reminds me another Steve Jobs conversation, about the NeXT logo:


He talks about Paul Rand, who refused to give Steve multiple options on the NeXT logo. He would do just one, it would be right, and Steve could take it or leave it.

I admire the courage involved in saying "taste is more than subjective, it's right vs. wrong, and I choose to be right."

That's a huge part of the power in Apple's branding.

I wonder what happened between then and now. Seems like a different company altogether.

Would you say they make better products now or when this video was shot? I think that for such a product-centered company, that should be the benchmark.

I'd say they make far far better products now. That's not the issue here. It's just that back before Jobs was ousted and when he returned you'd hear about Apple, you'd hear about philosophy behind it etc. Now you hear sales stats and here and there how good the product is or will be. No more philosophy or visions in talks. Maybe it's just my perception of it though.

The message is still there, it's just that there are much more sales talks because, well, they're doing much better as a company now.

The message has matured now - perhaps it wasn't just enough to be different - now their message is that they aren't being just different, they are better. You can see it in those product videos they do in keynotes, you can see it in Ive, Schiller, Cook, Jobs interviews and they definitely are trying to be better. In their products they don't have much to excel with the common stuff everybody does because it's the same suppliers for everyone - Intel, NVidia, Foxconn, Samsung, etc. but look at where they are trying new approaches everyone else has tried and given up on or haven't tried at all - a touchscreen phone when everyone said touchscreens don't work or a tablet computer when everyone thought that had been tried and failed or just the spectacular attention to detail (ironically, the most similar company in that aspect would be the IBM/Lenovo with the Thinkpads).

Don't get me wrong, Apple isn't infallible, they have failed spectacularly on some fronts and have been unable to compete on others but they seem to be doing just fine as it is.

This is so offbase, that I'm not sure where to begin. Every iPod ad. The FaceTime ads, at the end of all recent Steve Jobs keynote. Apple is trying to promote their philosophy and vision constantly.

No, it's not. I see you've got brand nursing out of marketing agencies and genuine talks by Steve Jobs confused. Which makes sense, it worked.

I was referring to how before he was ousted and just after he returned he was talking very differently, more passion, genuine. Sure, related concepts to branding they have now, but related only via high concept. Something changed along the way. Take it as you will - it's just a subjective perception anyways.

Have you seen a keynote given by Jobs since he returned to the company? You can't watch one without hearing about their philosophy and values. Sometimes it's mere lip service, but it's always there.

I said 'and when he returned...' - so, yeah. skalpelis nailed it though.

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that actually do."


thanks for this video - i just wrote a post about apple marketing comparing it to christian marketing - http://makebelieve1.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/apple-promises-...

one thing i disagree with what he says is that it is -not- nike who has the best marketing department of all times but christianity

I think it says a lot about how much Apple's brand is damaged for me that I can't think of one of those people in the ad, if they were alive today, using a mac without it diminishing their image in my mind.

You would think less of Gandhi and Martin Luther King if they used Macs? I think it says more about the irrationality of your Apple hatred.

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