“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 the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”

Steve Jobs

Building a product is hard enough. But growing a business—that sometimes feels near impossible. But in the sea of competitors, where every brand clamors to be heard over the din, there lies a profound truth: it’s not about the product, it’s about the values.

This is where Apple, with its ‘Think Different’ campaign, dances onto the stage, not with a product in hand, but with a manifesto.

Consider this: In an era where competitors were busy touting the features of their latest gadgets, Apple took a step back. They didn’t talk about processors or prices—they talked about people, rebels, dreamers, and visionaries. It was akin to showing up at a tech convention with a canvas and paintbrush in hand.

Unconventional? Absolutely.

Memorable? Unquestionably.

The genius of Apple under Steve Jobs was recognizing that in a world awash with noise, the most resonant message speaks to who we are, not just what we want. They weren’t selling computers—they were selling an ideal, a perspective. It was less about the practicality of owning a Mac and more about joining a movement of those who see the world differently.

This approach is a testament to the power of values in marketing. It’s like being at a masquerade ball where everyone is fixated on the masks, and Apple chose to captivate with the story behind the mask. They understood that in our fleeting interactions with brands, what sticks is not the specs of a product but the ethos it embodies.

The ‘Think Different’ ad itself serves as a beacon of this philosophy. It didn’t showcase the sleekness of Apple products but instead celebrated the spirit of innovation and nonconformity that Apple aspired to embody. In doing so, they connected with their audience on a deeper, more emotional level. It’s akin to meeting someone and remembering not their attire, but the intriguing conversation you had with them.

In weaving the fabric of their brand, Apple chose threads of inspiration, creativity, and daring. They realized that in the grand narrative of a company, products will evolve and change, but values—if true and resonant—endure. By aligning with such profound human ideals, Apple didn’t just market a product—they marked a place in the cultural zeitgeist.

So, take a leaf out of Apple’s book. It’s about finding the values that define you and conveying them in a way that resonates with your audience. It’s not about being the loudest in the room, it’s about being the voice that speaks with clarity and purpose.

In a landscape often dominated by the mundane and the forgettable, remember: the brands that leave a lasting impact are those that stand for something beyond their products. They are the brands that, much like Apple, dare to think, to dream, and most importantly, to be different.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.