Building a Great Brand: Lessons from Steve Jobs "Think Different" Campaign

Unveiling Steve Jobs' strategic mastery in rebranding Apple with the 'Think Different' campaign, a move that reshaped the tech world.

Building a Great Brand: Lessons from Steve Jobs "Think Different" Campaign

Monday December 18, 2023,

2 min Read

In 1996, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, a company struggling with its identity and market presence, he introduced a revolutionary branding strategy: the "Think Different" campaign. This campaign, running from 1997 to 2002, symbolised a new era for Apple and is a testament to Jobs' understanding of effective branding​​.

Jobs' critique of the then-proposed "We're back" slogan by BBDO highlighted his insistence on authenticity and vision. He sought to reflect Apple's philosophy rather than its current status, leading to the birth of "Think Different," a slogan created by Craig Tanimoto from Chiat\Day. This campaign was not just about advertising products; it was about embodying the ethos of Apple. The creative process, led by Rob Siltanen and involving a team including Lee Clow, was a collaborative effort that involved close interaction with Jobs and the Apple team​​.

Jobs' involvement was pivotal. He did not create the advertising concepts, but his role in selecting the right campaign and rallying talent was critical. His influence transformed Apple's image from "semi-cool, but semi-stupid" to a brand that resonated deeply with its audience​​. The decision to use "different" as a noun, instead of "differently," was also a strategic choice by Jobs, aiming to make the slogan sound more colloquial and impactful​​.

Furthermore, Jobs played a crucial role in selecting the historical figures featured in the campaign. His personal relationships and negotiations with the families of these figures, or their estates, were key to the campaign's authenticity and impact. The choice of Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator for the television ad, over Steve Jobs himself, further emphasised the focus on Apple's identity rather than its founder​​.

The "Think Different" campaign was a monumental success. It won numerous awards and marked the beginning of Apple's resurgence as a marketing and innovation leader. This campaign played a significant role in reviving Apple's brand, setting the stage for its future successes, including the introduction of the iMac and the development of macOS​​.

Steve Jobs' approach to branding with the "Think Different" campaign was groundbreaking. It went beyond mere product promotion, focusing on core values and the essence of the brand. Jobs understood that a great brand resonates on a deeper level, representing ideals and visions rather than just products.