“To me… marketing is about values.”
These are the words that Steve Jobs used to open his speech debuting the “Think Different” marketing campaign; revered as one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time.
The first commercial of which featuring those famous words written by creative directors Rob Siltanen and Ken Segall:
“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. They push the human race forward. 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 that do.”
There’s no formula for greatness. No great person to ever live was the same as another. They are all different.
Einstein, da Vinci, Gandhi, Lincoln, Shakespeare, Galileo, Plato, Jobs, Gates: They all did very different things.
So what do they all have in common? They inspired other people to think differently.
Sorry Steve, but just because I think different, doesn’t mean I am going to be great. Great people don’t just think differently, they inspire others to think differently.
People don’t change the world, they create opportunity for the world to change.
So let’s go back to that first line: “marketing is about values”.
In modern society marketing is a science. Statistics, psychology, anthropology: people spend their lives studying how and why people react to things the way they do. There are so many studies out there with effective results. And it works. Look at Google; Google’s profitability is almost entirely based on marketing research. They study where people’s eyes go on screens, where they are more likely to click, what they’re most likely to click on, and what social cues and trends people are responding to.
But do numbers create great marketing? I respect the science, but I believe it’s only half of the equation. The other half is something a little less tangible. More creative. Abstract.
When you look at a starry night sky, what words do you use to describe it? There are so many things that we know and can say about the night sky in its eternal complexity. The nearest star to our solar system is 4.3 light years away, you can fit 1.3 million earths inside the sun and its surface burns at 5,778K, the Milky Way galaxy is between 120,000 and 180,000 light years in diameter and holds over 200 billion stars, and our galaxy is only one of hundreds of billions of galaxies visible to us from earth. But the one word I will always use is beautiful.
And here’s the thing: before humans knew anything about what stars were, they considered them beautiful. Van Gogh saw it. This beauty is intrinsic. No matter how much we quantify the universe around us, it will always remain unquantifiably beautiful.
In this way, Apples’ notion to Think Differently will always be intrinsically effective. Jobs didn’t even come up with the idea, but we associate the idea with him because he lived it. He inspired us.
Jobs said it himself in his commencement address to Stanford University in 2011: “You can only connect the dots looking backward”.
We can analyze the dots to figure out why dots connect in the way they do; why they are effective in the way that they are.
But at the end of the day, it’s the people creating the dots that make a difference; that change things.
To me, marketing is about inspiration. Inspiring people to think in a new way.