Apple’s success is a story of economics and dreams. The computer wasn’t the company’s unique idea per se, but its execution is an impeccable display of creativity.
Marketing is very susceptible to personal opinion, and must therefore function in a very specific way to elicit the need to purchase. Steve Jobs believed that he enabled people to be productive and creative, and for that reason, they should buy Apple computers. This is the very message embedded in the fabric of the company. When this motto was forgotten, most prominently in the ’90s, the company went downhill. It was almost bankrupt when Steve Jobs returned to turn it around.
Many personal accounts, and also Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, explain in great detail that Jobs was not a pleasant person to be around. Notwithstanding his character shortcomings, his vision was clear, and he pursued it at any cost. He believed that IBM was the leviathan in the IT world, and his destiny was to slay the monster. Whether in literary or in business terms, Steve Jobs had a desire to inspire people to be creative, not to accumulate wealth.
It may seem ironic then that he left his family Disney shares worth around $7 billion. He had, very early in his life, the financial freedom to chase after his dream with all his fervor. No one can deny that he never lacked the will, but unfortunately his body gave out before he could realize all his dreams.
To him, the computer represented a huge improvement to anyone’s life. He would even go as far as proclaiming the computer, and anything you can do on one, as a huge leap forward on the path of bettering the human condition. To him it was the meaning of life and the universe, packed into the little beige box, which the world would name Macintosh.
1984 was the year of the democratized computer market. This was when Steve Jobs wanted to show the world that the best philosophy of success was to do the opposite of what the competition did. The Macintosh computer was a tangible iteration of his vision. Marketing was the tool Apple needed to yield in order to make the consumer market susceptible to a new perspective.
iPhones and iPads weren’t simply supposed to be mobile devices for browsing the Web. No, they became a phenomenon, and arguably two of the most-sold consumer electronics products ever. Their success was, in part, due to a simple and smooth user experience. To a computer geek, this same UI may seem limiting, but to a normal user it is a godsend. The Macintosh was marketed as a machine that makes possibilities. This was Steve Jobs’ dream, packed into a sleek flat computer device: the vision to empower the individual.
Here, Albert Einstein’s quote fits perfectly again: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Steve Jobs imagined that the computer would make this a better world. To some extent, his efforts may have pushed the industry toward better design, easier handling, and inspired thinking in corporations. Without a doubt, Apple has always had, for the most part, beautiful marketing.
After the 1997 Macworld Expo, Apple launched the much-lauded “Think Different” campaign, which was voiced over images of famous historical figures. The famous ad put in words what Steve Jobs dreamt of when he and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer out of wood. It also conveyed a personal message to consumers that Apple cares about their dreams, too. It showed the world, again, what Apple stood for.
Steve Jobs wanted everyone to know who his heroes were.
Apple’s marketing works backwards. It doesn’t simply say to the customer that the company releases such and such products. Instead, it asks a question, creates a vision, and then says that, with Apple products, it’s possible and easier to achieve these lofty goals. It’s an idealistic approach, but one that clearly works on a large scale. Today, its shares were trading at $619 — up from below $10 in 1997.
Selling dreams is a lucrative job because it inspires people to think outside the box. In turn, this inspires creativity, which is the environment that Steve Jobs preferred.
Marketing is about selling a dream, a reason, and a value — not merely the product itself. Ideological merit must tower over function; this has always been the secret history behind the making of any Apple product. “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
CC licensed Flickr image shared by Cain and Todd Benson