Steve Jobs on brand and marketing


In this metalogue about innovation, Gregory Bateson talks about the need to break apart conventional thinking, yet also holding on to some deeper rules of the ‘conversation’ in order to avoid going mad.

Apple is clearly a company that has been able to do this in ways that have created massive value.

In this interview, Allison Johnson (Apple’s former VP of Worldwide Marketing Communication) reveals one of those ‘deeper rules of the conversation’.

“The most important thing,” she says, “was people’s relationship to the product.”

After Steve Jobs was rehired to Apple in 1997, he somehow managed to transform that company from a failing also-ran technology brand into the most valuable corporation in the world.

How did he achieve that? Especially when he was starting from such a poor position?

What was it about the way he thought about his situation and chose his priorities that was different from what other leaders focused on?

In the very first minute of this 23 minute interview Allison Johnson tells us that it wasn’t design or technology, nor brand or marketing, not employee engagement, supply chain, finance, or leadership.

“The most important thing was people’s relationship to the product.”

The rest of the interview gives more details on how Apple went about achieving this, a nuanced approach that shifted the focus of its launch campaigns from ‘selling’ to:

“massive efforts to educate the public about the company’s new products by effectively communicating what made the experience of using them so great.”

And at the core of it all was relationship.

Relationship is one of the deep rules of conversation that Bateson so often tells us matters most.

Steve Jobs made Apple great by putting that into practice.

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