“To me marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us—no company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us… But even a great brand needs investments and caring if it’s going to retain its relevance and vitality, and the Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect in this area in the last few years. And we need to bring it back. The way to do that is not to talk about speeds and feeds. It’s not to talk about bits and megahertz. It’s not to talk about how we’re better than Windows…
The question we asked was, ‘Our customers want to know, who is Apple and what is it that we stand for? Where do we fit in this world?’ What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done—although we do that well. We do that better than almost anybody, in some cases. But Apple is about something more than that. Apple, at the core, its core value, is that we believe people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe. And we have the opportunity to work with people like that. We’ve had the opportunity to work with people like you. With software developers, with customers who have done it in some big and in some small ways. And we believe that, in this world, people can change it for the better. And that those people who are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world for the better are the ones that actually do.” — Steve Jobs, speech at the release of the ‘Think Differently’ advertisement
The speech is in low resolution. The transcript is inaccurate in some places (I’ve tried to correct it here). But Steve Jobs words shine through this grainy time machine like a beacon. When he plays the ad, viewed from the lens of time, you see that he was and would always be one of the crazy ones, one of the misfits, rebels and troublemakers. And we celebrate Jobs today for what he created, even as we recognize he was never perfect. But who is?
Even a great brand need investments and caring if it’s going to retain its relevance and vitality… this is true whether we’re looking at our company, our country, and certainly, ourselves. Jobs points the way with the question, “where do we fit in this world?”. It’s a question we ought to wrestle with in our own lives, in quiet places when the day is ripe with possibility. For in the quiet moments we’re best prepared to answer such questions.
And we ought to answer boldly. Our brand—our identity—isn’t something to trivialize. It ought to give us goosebumps just to think of it. And it must be more than words. For we are what we work consistently towards. We are the sum of our lifetime contribution. But really, we are the next five minutes.
We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us…. no person is. Our brand ought to be remarkable and memorable for all the right reasons. We can’t control who pays attention, but we can control just how compelling our story is when the world stumbles upon us. Compelling begins with how we view our own contribution. Our identity—our brand—is ours to shape and mold, honed by life but envisioned and realized by the intangible force deep inside of us. We ought to craft something remarkable and memorable.
For this moment is our own time machine, isn’t it? What will we remember of ourselves in this five minutes of boldness or timidity? We aren’t what we think we are, we are what we do! Just what is our brand?