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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."

VIDEO: More Than Branding does Advertising Week with United

 

I'm extremely pleased to share with you More Than Branding's video on Advertising Week. I hope it serves as a looking glass on this dynamic and unforgettable experience, while providing a taste of  the amazing host that was New York City.

There's a quote by Henry Miller that I stumbled across as I wrote the series, and it goes like this: ¨One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." And while that may be right, this time, Mr. Miller, I beg to differ.

It was both. 


Check out the entire Advertising Week with United series, here.

 

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Design and Marketing: The Critical Duo

The way we interact with our surroundings is defined, quite possibly, by its structure. Shapes, colors, words, sounds and other elements combine to create an environment that may well be hostile or friendly to us.

All space and objects we come into contact with is subject to a process that has led to this physical creation: design.

Daily, we hear this term applied to many industries, and for various purposes: graphic, textile, urban, architectural, industrial, interiors, editorial, advertising, digital, etc. It has so many meanings and interpretations, and, unfortunately has become a discipline somewhat misunderstood and underestimated. Not many people appreciate its true power, or better yet, its transcendence in our lives and in the business world.

All things we choose in our everyday (clothes, food, consumer goods, etc.), as well as for our big decisions (house, car, school, etc.) are always subject to a criteria of functionality and aesthetics, sometimes in different orders of priority. Thus creating within us a perception that may result in a purchase.

In marketing, design is critical to the success of a brand. From the design of a product: its packaging, presentation, logo, name and colors, to its pricing strategies, point of purchase display and advertising. Everything is conceived, planned, designed. Design must therefore provide a functional and aesthetic solution to a specific need on principles of simplicity, practicality and economy (entailing an efficient management of resources that comprise it, without desire to cheapen the concept).

A consistent design, from all angles, generates great power and value to brands; it projects a very strong cohesion, and its elements are not reduced just to visual elements. A company that displays a careful visual image, a product or service well-crafted, effective business communication, and consistent behavior of its employees or agents, has great opportunities and a huge advantage over their competitors.

If a brand’s advertising is flawless, it is possible to persuade a large number of people to buy it - but if its container is not ergonomically friendly or service lends itself so clumsy or hasty - perhaps it will discourage consumers from buying it a next time. If, however, the physical design of a product is outstanding, many people may not have a chance to try it if your advertising and communications is poorly designed.

The development of effective business design is built upon several disciplines that are complemented by a single purpose: marketing, semiotics, hues and chromes, typography, psychology, semantics, sociology, and so on. Those responsible for the design of a graphical solution, product, space or advertising message need to know this in order to create a strong and suitable concept.

According to several professional and remarkable designers, we can conclude that good design must comply with the characteristics below:

  • Good design is a concept, a story, something to say.
  • Designing communicates, not decorates.
  • Good design should be universal and timeless. Your message must be easily understood in different places and cultures. Moreover, it must strive to transcend time instead of becoming obsolete quickly.
  • Good design is versatile. Fits various means.
  • It is simple, clear and concise.
  • Good design is innovative. It surprises and calls the viewer's attention.
  • It helps us to understand a product. It communicates benefits perfectly.
  • It makes a product useful.
  • It watches the details.


Road to Cannes Series: Notes from Cannes Lions 2013

 

60 seminars. 17 workshops. 30 forums. 10 master classes. 9 techtalks. The Cannes Lions was nothing short of one hectic and fascinating fiesta. From industry gurus, clients, journalists, to even artists - each presentation inspired new ideas through in-depth insights into key issues that influence the creative process across the entire communications industry.

The following PDF presents my notes on some of my favorite presentations during the program.

But first off, here's a brief description of what was each seminar:

"You can't trust Marketers", by Adobe

History has bestowed upon marketers and advertising professionals descriptives such as "masters of manipulation." Not anymore. A new era is upon us, one in which marketers now analyze and prove campaign success in a way that has transformed this professional into one of the most valued partners in the organization. By pushing authenticity in brand management, creativity is at an all-time high.

"Work that Matters", by the Coca-Cola Company 

For 127 years, The Coca-Cola Company's investment in creativity has transformed it to the world's most compelling and successful brand, through the creation of work that has actually made a difference in our world. This commitment to creative value and content is present in everything they do - no matter the country. 

"Every company is a media company: We create media, and then media shapes our lives", by Cheíl

Today, technology plays an fundamental role in how we communicate with each other and brands. But more than anything, in the way we ourselves create content and share it across the globe.  Brands have a golden opportunity to influence consumers no matter the touchpoint, and become, within itself, into a media and entertainment company. Bottom line? Media is everywhere people and ideas meet.

"Iconic storrytelling frame by frame: Annie Leibovitz, Disney and McGarryBowen", by McGarryBowen

Inspired in the "Disney Dream Portraits Series", the folks of McGarryBowen shared the importane of imagery when it came to building this iconic brand.

"Creativity at Scale", by Facebook

In this presentation, the team from Facebook alongside creative genius  David Droga, explored the importance of scale when it comes to creativity.

"Branded Content", by Time Warner

CNN's Anderson Cooper and comedian Conan O'Brien sat down for a one-to-one session on what connects in comedy. By leveraging digial and social media tools, he was able to maximize his brand awareness and engagement with fans through multiple screens.

"The Branded Way: How to make content marketing work for you in the digital age", by Rokkan

Digital and social have forever disrupted the way we create, deliver and measure content in the  marketing world. The team walked us by their creative process and shared insights on content that builds loyalty and awareness, while strengthening connections with consumers. 

So without further ado, here are my notes on the Cannes Lions 2013: