Walter Isaacson’s highly-regarded biography of the late Steve Jobs provides the back story behind this well-recognized brand tagline – how it came into being, how it evolved and why it ended up being “think different” versus “think differently.” As you would expect, Jobs had a strong hand in this decision.
Lee Clow, the creative director at Chiat/Day who had done the great “1984” ad for the launch of the Macintosh, was reunited with Jobs in 1997, when the iconic leader needed an image campaign to drive home to consumers what made Apple products truly unique. Clow and his team came up with the germ of the Think Different idea. Jobs immediately loved it, but like most ideas, had to kick it around and debate it ruthlessly with Clow until they settled on it. Ultimately, Jobs believed that it captured the essence of the Apple brand.
“Apple is about people who think outside the box, who want to use computers to help them change the world,” Jobs later explained. At the same time, Clow and his team had come up with an equally famous tone poem, a brief, colorful monologue that captured the spirit of the brand, and still resonates 15 years later with people like you who have a desire to make an impact in your world. If you’re over 40, you may remember this one from the Apple ads of that era:
“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.”
I loved it then, and now, a decade and a half later, it still resonates with me.
Think Different vs. Think Differently
So why did Jobs latch onto the idea of “think different,” rather than the more colloquial “think differently?” In his mind, “think differently” meant to think just a little bit differently. Clearly, an incremental approach to creativity wasn’t what Apple was all about! In contrast, the more truncated “think different” slogan meant something truly different, creative and inspired in Jobs’ mind – exactly what the Apple brand had come to represent to consumers.
What is your version of “Think Different” – the iconic slogan that captures the essence of who you are, and the difference you plan to make for the people whom you serve? How would Steve Jobs and Lee Clow approach developing a unique value proposition to sell Brand You?