I really admire passionate people. Especially people who want to make a difference in the world. So when I heard that Steve Jobs had died, I felt sincerely sad and from that moment I felt a strong need to share my thoughts via this post.
Steve Jobs, believed that Computers had to be like a bicycle for our minds. With that vision, he thought that he could change the world, and he definitely did. I am at the moment writing this via my iPad and would like to say thank you Steve for transforming technology into magic. Memory and Imagination: a computer as a bicycle for our minds
Steve’s commitment to his vision, his self-confidence and his belief in that the dots would connect in the future is what inspires me the most about him. As a brand management and marketing professional, I would also like to thank Steve Jobs for being a great example on how to create, build and manage a brand. Apple is a great brand and it truly delivers its promise. Steve Jobs was an expert at blending insight and imagination to create innovative and intelligent designs of relevant and differentiated experiences.
Steve’s vision was that: the Innovation and creativity of a person’s work will depend directly on the quality of his or her total experience. Steve Jobs committed to this vision from very early in his career, he never doubted. Steve’s purpose with Apple was to build the most user-friendly, most understandable and most useable interfaces to empower the individual. Thanks to his persistence through many challenges and a strong commitment to his vision and purpose, Steve managed to consistently brake new ground and achieved Apple’s mission: Our computers will transform the way people do things.
In 1984 Apple introduced Mac, delivering its mission for the first time. And as they promised in their first super-bowl ad, video: 1984 was not as ”1984”
Here a video of Mac’s legendary introduction by Steve Jobs: video intro Mac
Besides his great vision, brand and innovation contributions, Steve was the best CEO of our time.
In little more than a decade, since his return to Apple in 1997, he took the company from near-bankruptcy to being the world’s second most valuable company by market capitalization, after the oil giant Exxon, with around $80bn in the bank.
Following I will present what I think are the 3 biggest lessons that Steve Jobs thought to the marketing and brand management world:
1. Marketing is about Brand Management
Jobs knew the importance of brand management and he explained it very clearly in a video in 1997: Apple’s brand
Apple fortunately is one of the half-dozen best brands in the world, Steve Jobs said.
“Apple is up there with Nike, Disney, Coke, and Sony. But even the best brands require care and investment if they are to retain its energy and vitality. To me, marketing is about values. The Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect in this area in the past few years.
We need to bring it back but not by speaking about speed and feeds, not about pros and cons or why we are better than windows. Nike never talks about the price they instead honor great athletes. That is who they are and what they are about.
“This is a very complicated world, a very noisy world and we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember us. No company is. So we have to be very clear about what we want them to know about us and where do we fit in this world.” We need to get back to our core value, and Apple’s core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.
That is the reason why after Jobs came back to Apple, in Apple’s first brand revitalization campaign they decided to get back to their core value and honor the ones who have changed the world, the ones who think different
2. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Steve Jobs put design on top of every board meeting agenda. He knew very well that it couldn’t be left alone for the consumer to define what is it that they want or for the engineers to produce what they thought would be best for the consumer. He knew that design had to be a constant blend of both insights and imagination, following a vision. Steve Jobs was an expert at blending insight and imagination to create innovative and intelligent designs of relevant and differentiated experiences.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to try to sell it. I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room, and I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it.”
Imagination & confidence: You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
You also have to think of Design in the macrocosms not only in the microcosms.
“How does that fit into a larger cohesive vision that allows you to sell $8bn, $10bn of products a year?” Steve Jobs proved his macrocosms view on design by launching the iPod in October 2001 and the iTunes music store in April 2003. These changed the music industry, and put Apple on a growth path. When Jobs followed up with the iPhone in January 2007, he was confident enough to drop the computer part of Apple’s brand name.
Annual sales soared from $8bn in 2000 to $65bn in 2010, and are still rising rapidly, thanks to new versions of the iPhone and the iPad. Indeed, the iPad is already a bigger business than Macintosh.
Besides the design of Apple’s interfaces and online brand experience, Jobs was an expert in combining online with offline experiences by integrating the 5 senses. A perfect example are the Apple stores: Apple store intro
3. Focus on making really good and unique products: the press and the stock price will take care of themselves
Steve Jobs had to learn this lesson the hard way. That is why I think that this lesson and study case is priceless. After being kicked out from his own company due to his own insecurities, Jobs realized that by focusing on creating the best and most user-friendly products, and constantly innovating he could recover Apple’s struggling and eroding brand.
In 1983, Steve Jobs wanted to sell the Apple computers massively, but he thought that he did not know enough about marketing and advertising to do it. So he decided to look for “the best marketer in the planet”. So impressed by the “The Pepsi Challenge” campaign, which allowed Pepsi to gain market share from its primary rival, Coca Cola. Steve decided to bring Sculley to Apple to take care of its marketing. He managed to take Sculley from his position as president of PepsiCo to Apple as the new chief executive officer with the immortal line: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”
However in 1985, Steve Jobs lost a boardroom battle against John Sculley and was kicked out of his own company. During Sculley’s period as CEO of Apple, sales increased from $800 million to $8 billion. But this was at the expense of the brand and its values. Sculley raised the prices of the computers and focused on making costly advertising campaigns at the price of eroding the passion within the company and Apple’s brand value. So Sculley was ultimately forced out of Apple in 1993 as the company’s margins eroded, sales diminished and stock declined.
In a rare Q&A at the first WWDC since his return to Apple, Jobs talks to developers about saying “no,” to focus on making really good and unique products and about how the press and the stock price would take care of themselves: video focus
A part of Steve will live within many of us forever through his greatly designed products and his management lessons. Steve Jobs empowered our imagination with his creativity. His legacy is far more than being the greatest CEO ever. A great world leader has left us but the lessons that his leadership taught us will leave forever.
As iWoz (Steve Wozniak) his friend and Apple co-founder said it: the way people love products he put so much into creating means he brought a lot of life to the world.
I will close this post with a final great inspirational quote from Steve:
If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Thank you Steve for Apple, the lessons and all the cool stuff!
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