Think Different – Apple’s Slogan Explained!

Are you looking for the meaning of Apple’s Slogan: Think Different? If yes, this article is going to explain it to you in detail.

As an entrepreneur, I’m very interested in learning about the slogans of some successful companies like Apple. Because it inspires me to use the same kind of marketing tactic in my own business.

So in the past week, I have studied a lot of materials about Apple’s Slogan: Think Different. I’m going to share with you my findings about the slogan. You may find it very inspirational if you are a business student or business owner.

In this article about “Think Different”, I’m going to cover the following topics:

What Does “Think Different” Mean?

Apple Computer, Inc., now known as Apple Inc., used the slogan “Think Different” from 1997 to 2002. The Los Angeles office of advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day created the campaign. Many have taken the slogan as a response to IBM’s slogan “Think.” 

It appeared in a TV advertisement, several print advertisements, and several TV promos for Apple products.

With Apple’s rise, as well as Steve Jobs’ death, quite a few people have reflected on the historical significance of its “Think Different” advertising campaign. 

Apple launched the distinguished “Think Different” campaign in 1997, a campaign that went vintage. 

Our perception of campaigns, ads, posters, and technology changed forever, thanks to this slogan. Jobs persevered on the adjective “different” even though the word “think” needs a follow-up adverb, contending that “Think Differently” would be a misunderstanding.

Steve Jobs was of the opinion that “you had to be a little different to buy an Apple computer.”

It is understandable why Jobs chose the word “different” and since then Apple has become a multinational company that offers innovative products and services. It has therefore gained the attention of the market and consumers in general.

The campaign is anchored by the memorable “Crazy Ones” spot, which pays homage to world-renowned visionaries such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Gandhi, Pablo Picasso, among others. “Here’s to the crazy ones… the ones who see things differently” are some of the words that we hear in this unforgettable spot.

As of 2020, “Think different” was still printed on the box of the iMac, as well as possibly elsewhere.

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How Was The “Think Different” Slogan Created?

There are varying accounts of the campaign’s genesis. In line with Apple’s requirement for silence from everyone it works with, TBWAChiatDay refuses to explain its contribution publicly. 

Two new sources, however, shed light on the matter. Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson devotes a chapter to the phrase ‘Think Different,’ while a recent Forbes article by former ChiatDay creative director Rob Siltanen provides another perspective.

Isaacson’s book plays up Jobs’ role somewhat, claiming that he co-wrote the commercial and shared credit for the slogan, but Siltanen is having none of it. 

Jonathan Littman worked with Craig Tanimoto, who was a creative art director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, to develop this brilliant concept. He used black and white photographs of people who “thought differently” with the classic logo and slogan, to develop this.

IBM was running a ThinkIBM campaign. Tanimoto believed his suggestion would playfully illustrate the disparity between the two organizations.

In 1997, Tanimoto began drawing sketches inspired by René Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” and later combined them with Apple’s logo and the words “Think Different”.

Tanimoto kept these sketches in his notebook for days, stating that ideas need time to incubate, even though he knew that this was the BIG idea Apple wanted. 

Tanimoto’s idea inspired the whole room when he presented it at the agency’s presentation, during which creative teams were sharing their ideas.

Job insisted on using “different” as a noun, as in “think victory” or “think beauty”. 

According to him, “think differently” would not have the same meaning for him. The goal was to make the phrase sound colloquial, like the phrase “think big”.

Using the big “Think Different” campaign, it became successful and was promoted on TV and posters, reviving Apple and ushering in a new era, transforming personal computing into an icon of rebellion, individuality, and change.

The ad is indeed strong and motivating, capturing the viewer’s attention from the very beginning and remaining unique to this day. 

However, for the record Steve Jobs wasn’t sure at first about this combination claiming that “This is great, this is really great … but I can’t do this. People already think I’m an egotist, and putting the Apple logo up there with all these geniuses will get me skewered by the press.” 

Nevertheless, after a while, Steve Jobs decided to continue with this idea, realizing that it was the right thing to do for Apple. 

During the development process, two versions of the narration for the TV advertisement were created: one narrated by Jobs and one by Dreyfuss. 

Lee Clow suggested that Jobs narrating the piece would be “really powerful” as a symbol of his return to the company and of reclaiming the Apple brand. 

Jobs went with the Dreyfuss version on the morning of the first air date, stating that it was about Apple, not about himself.

Dan Bootzin, Chiat/Day’s in-house editor, edited the piece at Venice Beach Editorial, and Hunter Conner post-produced it.

In 2011, Apple aired Steve Jobs’ version of the ad as part of its internal memorial.

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How Do “Think Different” Campaigns Work?

The “Think Different” Campaign was a huge success for Apple and TBWA/Chiat/Day upon release. 

The spot won numerous awards and accolades, including an Emmy Award for Best Commercial and a Grand Effie Award for best campaign in America.

Apple’s reemergence as a marketing powerhouse was marked by the new ad campaign. 

Apple had lost market share to the Wintel ecosystem in the years prior to the ad because the Wintel ecosystem offered lower prices, a wider range of software, and better-performing CPUs. 

The Apple Newton project, a billion-dollar flop that proved to be neither technically nor commercially viable, was even worse for Apple’s reputation. 

Steve Jobs’ return and the success of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign helped revive Apple’s counterculture image, paving the way for the iMac all-in-one computer and later Mac OS X (now called macOS).

Why Is the Business Slogan Important For Apple?

Slogans are short, catchy phrases that are frequently used in advertising. Catchy slogans are an effective way to draw attention to a brand or product. 

In marketing, slogans have long been used, but today they are everywhere, used by a variety of brands. 

Good slogans should highlight the benefits of a product. A memorable slogan will also emphasize the brand’s image. 

In general, a phrase that has meaning resonates more strongly with customers than a brand’s name alone, because a good slogan provides more than an assurance of commitment, but also explains what the brand stands for.

In marketing, slogans are important for the following reasons:

Brand positioning and recognition

Brand identity is determined by a distinctive logo, a memorable slogan, and the brand name. 

So, if your slogan is catchy and memorable, it will help create brand recognition in the market. A slogan’s tone and language will impact how your brand is positioned in the market.

Building better customer relationships

As a connection between a business and its related customers, slogans have always been treasured throughout history. 

Advertising slogans help brands be remembered by their audiences, which, in turn, results in a positive attitude toward them.

Stand out from the crowd

A brand’s slogan should be distinctive. That way, people will remember your brand. 

By mentioning the slogan, your brand can be identified without mentioning the product or brand name. 

Make your product more popular

A slogan can not only tell the audience about the product, but also about its advantages. 

A slogan describes the way people view a product. A slogan can therefore be used as a marketing strategy to enhance the appeal of your product.

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Final Words: Apple Slogan

Steve Job’s incredible attention to detail when it came to Apple’s marketing persisted throughout his career, personally approving each new advertisement. 

Apple’s turnaround was built on both great products and great marketing, and Jobs knew the importance of both. 

Although ‘Think Different’ was not solely responsible for Apple’s success in the years following its launch, it played an extremely important role in rallying customers, employees, and shareholders during a very difficult period for the company. 

It reaffirmed the brand’s vision. In addition, it promised that Apple had its mojo back with Jobs at the helm. This has been confirmed.

The “Think Different” campaign was discontinued with the launch of the iMac G4 in 2002. Nevertheless, the slogan’s impact continues to resonate much like Mac’s “1984” campaign.

Tim Cook, for example, keeps a copy of the original “Think Different” advertisement at his office. 

It’s not easy to think different when Apple now dominates the market and competitors copy its every move and strategy. 

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Think Different - Apple’s Slogan

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