linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
Also of interest
  Melissa Davis Thank You, Steve Jobs
by Melissa Davis
October 7, 2011

The grey, slightly gloomy sky in London on Thursday morning seemed an appropriate cloak for the news of the sad passing of Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc. As tributes from around the world dominate the headlines all day, we seem to be witnessing the end of an era. It’s hard to believe. It’s also sometimes hard to grasp Apple’s truly remarkable journey under the guidance of Jobs, since his return in 1997.


I had some brief insight to Apple’s transition from a flailing, near defunct company in the mid-90s to the giant it is today. Some time ago, back in 1995 (and back in my PR days), Apple UK approached a PR agency I worked for with an opportunity to pitch for the UK account. For competitive reasons we couldn’t pitch as the existing agency. Five of us came together from around the world to present to Apple UK — armed with mocked-up business cards — and told them that if we won the pitch we’d set up a new agency to do Apple’s UK PR. It was a huge risk for Apple, we were the total outsiders, but they took a punt on us and we won. 16 years on the agency, Bite, still exists (a bite of the apple of course).

I worked with Apple as a client in the post-Jobs-founding era and during his return in 1997. For all Apple’s troubles in the mid-90s — with CEO’s passing through the company like corporate flings — Jobs had, from the beginning, co-created a brand with an incredibly loyal following. The people who worked for Apple from the outset were passionate about the brand and the technology. The creative community was extremely, and sometimes undeservingly, loyal – including musicians, artists, designers, and celebs among them. I think we won the pitch because, even though we had no history, we passionately wanted to work for the brand. And that passion has always been a part of the Apple brand. It is something to which many consumer brands can only aspire.

But passion alone couldn’t turn around a business. As Apple’s communications agency in the mid-90s we so often banged our heads trying to convince the press of its worthiness. In the mid-90s Apple represented about 5% of the market share of personal computers. Microsoft was the dominant force, and eventually we realized that there was little point in trying to shout louder. Our best tactic was to work with the fans (and press) that still believed in Apple, even when the company looked like it was going to the wall.

Jobs’ return to Apple, as CEO without a salary in 1997, really marked the beginning of Apple’s transformation from a company to the success it is today. It seems hard to believe now that, at the time, every computer was square, beige and seriously ugly. Along with his brilliant head of design, Jonathan Ive, (who had been in the company before Jobs’ return) Jobs introduced a radical innovation that fundamentally changed the technology market for good: the candy coloured all-in-one iMacs. It was unprecedented. It actually made you want to show off your home computer. It was simple. And that was even before the creations of the iPod and iPhone.

Perhaps one of Jobs' best moves was to work closely with Ive. It seems like a logical coupling for a company where design is critical, but it is unusual. How many CEO’s work alongside — or even understand — design? How many companies refuse to conduct endless market research before launching products?

The introduction of the iPod radically changed things again. This time it made die-hard Windows users actually consider a switch to Apple as a platform. By the mid-noughties the backlit glow of Apple laptops was everywhere. It stood for beautiful design, easy technology, inspirational thinking.

The cult of Apple that has emerged in recent years is sometimes hard to believe; the sheer ‘coolness’ of the brand is almost bemusing. Yet, essentially the brand’s essence has never changed — from the beginning, die-hard Apple customers always loved its simplicity.

What did change, however, was that in a matter of years, Jobs succeeded in converting the way people felt, viewed and connected with technology. His achievements have fundamentally changed the way we live. His company certainly changed things in a little agency in a corner of London, thousands of miles away from Apple HQ in Cupertino, that built itself — and many careers — from working with Apple.

RIP Steve Jobs. And thank you.

   Melissa Davis works in branding and sustainability. She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and a co-founder of Bite Communications. She has written two books on branding, The Fundamentals of Branding (AVA Books, 2009) and More than a Name: An Introduction to Branding (AVA Books, 2005). Follow her on Twitter at mdavis_CSR

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 6 )  email

Thank You, Steve Jobs
 When Steve came back we had bled people and projects through two periods of chaotic and crazy management. The NeXt guys appeared with their matt black squares and we thought "is this the future of Apple?". Gil Amelio had cut huge swathes of the company and put a knife through its heart. Steve cut again, except with a vision of growth and for renewal - and with these cuts we were finally given permission to stop doing things none of us believed in and get behind something we could. We sold excitement again. It was tough love. Infinite Loop could be a scary place if you didn't know your stuff and you had lost the passion. You knew where you stood with Steve. His expectations were met or you were gone - but they were consistent, and that was the point. We were a team and he was the ringmaster. Ruthless but humble - nothing was named after him - and he really thrived on the joy that people experienced with Apple products. His role was to delight - and delight he did. 
Steve EVerhard, Director, Dreamstake - October 7, 2011
  brandchannel brandspeak archive   2014  |  2013  |  2012  | 2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Dec 22, 2011 Pan Am Lives - Every Dead Brand's Dream -- Michael Stone
  A deeper look into Pan Am by Michael Stone
Dec 5, 2011 The Generational Effect - Customer Loyalty across the Generations -- Howard Lax
  A look into customer loyalty
Nov 18, 2011 Play: Bringing Virtual & Real Worlds Together -- Ted Mininni
  A deep look into bringing virtual and real worlds together
Nov 11, 2011 Putting a Mark on Sustainable Luxury -- Diana Verde Nieto
  How to help consumers make informed decisions about sustainable brands?
Nov 4, 2011 In a Crowded Daily Deals Market, Attention to Detail Counts -- Kara Trivunovic
  With 680+ daily deal providers now peddling everything from discounts on high fashion to high adventure travel packages, the market is reaching a tipping point. Here’s how to stand out
Oct 27, 2011 Brand Iraq and the Arab Spring -- Lisa Knight
  A deeper look into the identity of the Iraqi nation
Oct 21, 2011 The Power of 8: Eight Elements to Address When Researching Multicultural Audiences -- Favio Martinez
  Research can validate or disprove our marketing and communications assumptions. Done correctly, it can uncover the actionable audience insights that serve as the foundation for killer business solutions.
Oct 14, 2011 Start Measuring What Matters -- Brian Chiger
Sep 30, 2011 Linkable Offers - A Redemption Revolution -- Kim Riedell
  A deeper look into online coupon companies
Sep 23, 2011 Virtual Events – Aligning Environment, Content, Audience and Technologies for Superior Branding Impact -- Michael LaRocco
  A look into Virtual Events by Michael LaRocco
Sep 16, 2011 Back to the Future – Marketing to the New Majority -- Ola Mobolade
  Ola Mobolade shares three important lessons marketers can learn from the history of multicultural media and marketing in America
Sep 9, 2011 Color Trademarks: A Black Future for Red Soles? -- Gabriela Salinas
  Deloitte global brand manager Gabriela Salinas looks at trademarking colors and the Christian Louboutin case.
Sep 2, 2011 Successes, Failures and Counterfeits: Western Brands in China -- Matt Train
  The perceptions and misperceptions of Western brands in China.
Aug 26, 2011 Leveraging Consumer Engagement to Fight Product Counterfeiting -- Greg Miller
  To fight counterfeiting, build customer engagement into the authentication solution.
Aug 19, 2011 Steps to Successful B2B Communications -- Hope Picker
  Insights on Successful B2B Brand Communications
Aug 12, 2011 London’s Grief -- Melissa Davis
  London-based Melissa Davis on why the UK is not a broken society.
Aug 5, 2011 What’s in a Name? -- Lisa Knight
  The founder of the Brand Foundation on the political implications of naming.
Jul 29, 2011 Absolut Genius -- John Bell
  John Bell on how Absolut Vodka as kept its cool.
Jul 22, 2011 Cheering On Brand Japan, the “New Cinderella” -- Eileen Wacker
  The view from Hawaii on Japan's victory in the Women's World Cup.
Jul 14, 2011 Product Placement in the UK: A Progress Report -- John Barnard
  NMG chairman John Barnard on the challenges facing product placement’s growth in the UK
Jul 8, 2011 Japanese Lessons: In Crisis, Take the Offensive -- Karen Attyah
  Crisis management lessons from Japan
Jul 1, 2011 Have Brands Lost Their Cachet? -- Ted Mininni
  A look into branding and brand value by Ted Mininni
Jun 24, 2011 Why Entrepreneurs Need Smarter Brands -- Julie Cottineau
  Why entrepreneurs need to spend mroe time and energy in defining and pressure testing their Brand Idea.
Jun 17, 2011 Why iCloud is Apple’s Achilles’ heel -- Olof Schybergson
  The iCloud service shows a drift towards software development for Apple, and less towards their shiny nice products.
Jun 14, 2011 Next Summer’s Blockbuster Coming from an App Near You? -- Michael Stone
  Beanstalk's Michael Stone on Moshi Monsters, Angry Birds and other hot properties at the 2011 Licensing International Expo
Jun 8, 2011 The Tragic Fall from Specialist to Generalist: Starbucks, the Latest Victim -- John Bell
  An in depth article about Starbucks going from specialist to generalist.
Jun 3, 2011 The Future of Customer Insights -- Amanda Yates
  A closer look into the future of customer insights
May 27, 2011 Is Bieber Fever Contagious? -- Michael Stone
  If it even necessary that Justin Bieber conquer the tween boys’ market?
May 20, 2011 10 Ways to Make the Most of Mobile Marketing -- Jeff Judge
  Signal CEO Jeff Judge on boosting the ROI of mobile marketing.
May 13, 2011 Pharma Branding and Pharma Marketing: The Keys to Success -- Dr. Gary Wield
  Dr. Gary Wield on the brave new world for pharmaceutical marketing.
May 5, 2011 How to Build Long-Lasting Relationships with Your Customers Online -- Zephrin Lasker
  Zephrin Lasker takes a look at how to build long-lasting relationships with online customers
May 3, 2011 Animation and Overseas Deals: All in a Day’s Work for LeBron James, Inc. -- Patrick Kerns
  Interbrand’s Patrick Kerns assesses the global branding strategy of LeBron James Inc.
Apr 29, 2011 Good Brands Gone Bad -- John Bell
  How brands recover from a crisis defines their essence.
Apr 15, 2011 The Anatomy of a Great Ad - Mark Bilfield
  Mark Bilfield reviews the winners in TED’s first Ads Worth Spreading competition to highlight what makes a great ad.
Apr 1, 2011 INDIA Future of Change: Engaging with the World -- Amit Shahi
  Amit Shahi, project director of INDIA Future of Change, on India’s nation branding
Mar 25, 2011 The Cure for a Forgotten Brand - Reinventing Luden’s -- Terri Goldstein
  The Luden’s brand story reflects the rise and fall of many heritage brands.
Mar 11, 2011 Bing Heats Up Search War for Brands -- Ben Kirshner
  How will Bing’s HTML5 impact how online consumers search for products?
Mar 4, 2011 Social Tribes are More Potent Than Social Networks -- Dr. Bob Deutsch
  Dr. Bob Deutsch argues that brand marketers’ fatal error is to think of customers as consumers, not people.
Feb 25, 2011 Between Culture & Branding - An African Perspective -- Tomi Ogunlesi
  Bates Cosse strategic planner Tomi Ogunlesi debunks the notion that consumers in Africa aren’t sophisticated.
Feb 18, 2011 Think Outside the (Blue) Box - The Role of Online Collaboration in Rebranding -- Peter Ryder
  How to avoid costly, and damaging, rebranding mistakes.
Feb 11, 2011 Trends for the New Decade -- Cheryl Swanson
  Toniq principal Cheryl Swanson weighs in on hot trends for 2011 and beyond.
Feb 4, 2011 The Secret to Real Customer Connectivity -- Ted Mininni
  A deeper look into customer connectivity with Ted Mininni
Jan 28, 2011 Advertising China -- Jay Wang
  USC professor Jay Wang on China’s branding campaign during president Hu Jintao’s state visit to the U.S.
Jan 21, 2011 Brand equity beyond the grave -- Gabriela Salinas
  A deeper look into marketing using dead celebrities by Gabriela Salinas.
Jan 14, 2011 Customer Loyalty Is Dead - Your Four Opportunities To Capture Customers Who No Longer Care Where They Buy -- Robert H. Bloom
Jan 7, 2011 The 1st Baby Boomer Turns 65 - and Why it Doesn’t Matter -- Stephen Reilly
  Born sometime in 1946, the first Baby Boomer will turn 65 this year. You can expect to hear this achievement announced repeatedly before 2011 is over.