Steve Jobs speaks to us from the past

“Apple spends a fortune on advertising – you’d never know it.” ~Steve Jobs, 1997

How things have changed for Apple since 1997.  These days it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know about Apple and its innovative brand, products and the design of both.  But this wasn’t always the case.  A YouTube video from 1997 shows Steve Jobs speaking about how Apple’s advertising wasn’t working and the importance of clear branding for Apple’s future.

He had just returned to Apple as CEO in 1997 after his resignation in 1985 (after a purported power struggle with the board of directors).  Upon his return, one of the first initiatives he took on was to resurrect the brand with the famous “Think Different” campaign.  He also planned to dump a bunch of products like the Newton that weren’t working.  His strategies worked and Apple returned to profitability.

The video illustrates beautifully his thinking behind the new campaign – that Apple needed to be about values and communicate its values clearly in a “noisy” world.  He urges his audience to be clear about what they want people to remember about the brand and it’s not that this product is better than their competitors (especially as the products will continuously change), but what the company stands for beyond their products.  In resurrecting Apple, Jobs focused on Apple’s values, not its product, illustrated by the text of the “Think Different” ad:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

And the rest is history, as they say. Apple went on to transform the technology landscape, product after product.  Even as we’ve forgotten some of the older products (orange iBook anyone?), we’ll never forget what Apple stands for.

Keri Damen

Keri leads the strategic design, development, marketing and expansion of cutting edge business programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing, HR, management and leadership at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. See more…