Steve Jobs: The Man Behind the Brand

On the month that marks the second anniversary since Steve Jobs' passing, blogger Edgar Estévez reflects on the influence and legacy Apple's main man left to the marketing world...  

Young Steve Jobs

An entrepreneur, an innovator, an inventor, a visionary…  a genius. These are just some of the adjectives used to describe Steve Jobs, a man whose path was never predictable. He was given up for adoption at birth, he dropped out of college after only one semester and at the age of 20 co-founded Apple, currently one of the most valuable companies in the world.

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs created a revolution. As one of the top pioneers on the personal computer and electronics field, his impeccable taste and sense of style made him push all market boundaries, transforming one industry after another - from computers, to smart phones, to music and even animated films.

It’s been two years since he passed away and we still remember him as the very soul of the organization he helped create. His aggressive and demanding personality made him a perfectionist, always aspiring to be one step ahead of the industry and setting the market trends in innovation and design. But most importantly, he impregnated his passion for simplicity and top-notch quality into the company’s organizational culture, making this one of the key components of Apple’s sustaining performance and competitive advantage - percieved upon entering any Apple store in the world or simply by opening the box of any Apple product for the first time… It’s almost like a ritual!

As a marketer, Steve Jobs was a natural. He was driven by his obsession and love for his products, and made it a personal mission to have an impact in people’s lives. Not only did he invent great things, he also made the consumers feel emotionally attached to the brand at the point of turning them into passionate advocates of Apple. They don't think of themselves as consumers, but in turn members of a movement, a mission, something larger than themselves. He helped build mystery and expectation around product launches, always generating buzz and suspense before unveiling some amazing new gadget, making consumers and specially the competition go mad with speculation.  Jobs was also not afraid to go big, as pointed out on hubspot.com, and one great example was the widely known 1984 “Think Different” commercial for the new Macintosh, where he hired Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, and spent around $1.7 million ($3.4 million today) between producing the ad and running it one time during the Super Bowl. This was a huge risk for the company, especially since it wasn't clear that the ad would succeed, but it paid off. The ad generated as much coverage as the Macintosh itself.

No doubt that Steve Jobs is a tough act to follow and the company is not only facing  new challenges in the market but also trying to continue his legacy. So, how is Apple doing today? According to a study conducted by Interbrand Corp. on the Top 100 brands this past September, Apple has unseated Coca-Cola as the world’s No. 1 brand with a brand value of $98.3 billion, 28% more than last year. 

Still, some say that the brand is losing its magic. Some of the latest product innovation hasn’t raised the bar high enough for competitors and for consumers, who are always expecting big things from Apple. Many of the brand’s major products are facing increased competition from Samsung’s top-selling Galaxy phones, Amazon’s Kindle tablet reader and Spotify’s music service - and still the company keeps innovating around the same things - which is probably not innovating at all. The brand may be loosing its momentum, but they still have time to turn things around. After all, Apple is a very strong brand and the most profitable technology company there is, generating $41.7 billion last year. And even more importantly, they still have the consumer’s trust, since the popular perception is that “Apple could do no wrong”.

Most recently, the company appointed former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as their new SVP of Retail and Online Stores, which many industry experts are saying is one of the company’s best decisions so far, since she is likely to bring a fresh leadership focus to Apple and complement well with current CEO Tim Cook to bring the brand up to the next level with breakthrough innovative products in new categories, allowing Apple to become the outstanding company of this decade. 

 Before you finish reading I wanted to leave you with the 10 things I have personally learned from Steve Jobs as a marketer myself. Additionally, here's a small fragment from a PBS documentary of 1994, which for me, perfectly reflects the way he saw and lived his life. Enjoy!

10 things I’ve learned from Steve Jobs as a marketer:

  1. Innovate.
  2. Time to market is crucial.
  3. Simple is always better.
  4. Failure is part of the process. The most important thing is knowing how to stand up again.
  5. Tenacity and hard work always pays off.
  6. Be curious.
  7. Stay focused.
  8. Pay attention to details.
  9. It’s ok to go a little crazy sometimes.
  10. Don’t be afraid to think different.

Steve Jobs on 'One Last Thing', a PBS documentary: 


“ When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is - everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again."

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