Steve Jobs had a talent for identifying what was important and what was not, and having the courage to toss what he felt was the nonessential. We see this reflected in the Apple line of products and in the Apple retail stores, and we also see it in Apple's branding and all aspects of their marketing communications. But there was a time when Apple had gotten away from its roots and away from simplicity and clarity, not only in terms of its marketing but in terms of its products too. It took Steve Jobs coming back in 1997 to get the Apple brand back on track after years of neglect. This seven-minute clip below is from an internal presentation that Steve gave in Cupertino to his employees not long after he returned to Apple in 1997. If you are even remotely interested in business or in marketing an organization or cause of any kind in which you truly believe, you need to see this short talk.
In this presentation made on the Apple campus, Steve says that marketing is not about touting features and speeds and megabytes or comparing yourself to the other guys, it's about identifying your own story, your own core, and being very, very clear about what you are all about and what you stand for...and then being able to communicate that clearly, simply, and consistently. As Steve says, people want to know who you are and what you stand for. In the case of Apple, the brand's core value, as Jobs says in the presentation, is not about technology or "making boxes for people to get their jobs done." Apple's core value, said Jobs, is this: "We believe people with passion can change the world for the better....and that those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who actually do." In the end Jobs introduces the now famous Think different TV ad that was about two months in the making. This campaign was an attempt, said Jobs, to get Apple back to its core values. It was only one of many first steps, but it worked.
"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
to Apple employees, 1997
What's your core message?
The lessons in this talk obviously can be applied directly to the art of presentation, something Steve did very well in all his presentations, big or small. Good presentation is about story, just as good branding is about story. Clarity and simplicity are key, and the way to achieve these is by being relentless in abandoning the superfluous and identifying the absolute core of your message. Clarity and simplicity are not easy—they are hard, very hard. If it were easy to be simple and clear then everyone would do it, but few actually do. It is indeed a very noisy world, and it's getting noisier seemingly by the day. It is those people—and those organizations—who do the hard work to clarify and simplify that will be the ones who are able to rise above the noise, get their messages heard, and hopefully make a difference in this world in their own way.