The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If You Know Who You Are, You Don’t Have To Say Much About Yourself …

A while back, I wrote about a chef we met on a research project for Tabasco, who said something that had a big effect on me …

“The more confident the chef, the more simply your dish”.

I love this.

It captures so much in so few words.

As you will be able to tell from this blog, I find it hard to be succinct in pretty much everything and anything I do.

I spend ages thinking about things … what is important, what isn’t, what might be that I haven’t thought about yet and what I just want to try to see what comes out the other side.

This is incredibly annoying for almost everyone. Including myself.

But after I’ve messed about with it all and got an idea about where my energy lies, I can eventually get things down to their bare essential – by which I mean reduce it down to the most important thing I need others to understand and feel.

I must admit, I used to give myself a really hard time on how long this process took – especially when I could see others pull it off in the blink of an eye – but the reality is it takes a lot of hard work to be simple and rigour means what you do is right rather than just fast.

I say all this because I recently came across Apple’s marketing philosophy from 1977.

Look at that.


One page. One single little page.

Now I know some will claim it is simplistic.

Or it features words that people may not get, like ‘impute’.

But when you read it – which at one single page, means you definitely will – you quickly understand the 3 essential values that the brand stands for, believes in and values.

They give a fuck about their audience.

They are brutally focused on what they do.

They place great value on how they communicate themselves.

But there’s a couple of other things.

One is they openly talk about ‘creativity’.

To do that in 1977 is amazing.

To do that in 1977 when you are in the computer business, is almost unheard of.

But what I like is they link creativity with professional.

Because not only does it mean Apple don’t see these as being mutually exclusive – which was definitely not a commonly held belief back then, maybe even now – but it’s a clue to the work they want to be known for.

Not creativity for creativities sake, but how they look at the world.

What being professional looks like to them.
What the values of being professional means to them
What the word professional represents in terms of how you live and act.

And given they placed huge importance in understanding their audience, it meant they could do work that moved away from the typical suit and tie, business communication of the day and make work that spoke human to human … acknowledging the creativity in all of us and talking about human values not just corporate efficiency.

And if that wasn’t enough, there is one more thing I love about all this.

They talk about how, if they do it right, their customers will feel about Apple and their products.

Not a bunch of words … but emotion.

Of course this is all very obvious, but there are way too many clients who try to define the exact words they want people to play back to them.

Generic … overly-defined … corporate-talk … words.

It’s as if their bonus is linked directly to the quantity of words a focus group plays back to them.

Which is probably the exact reason why they do it.

But Apple in 1977 didn’t follow that path – and still don’t – because they, like NIKE and countless other brands who have a huge influence in culture, appreciate the simpler you are, the more powerful you become.

21 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is your best ever post.

Comment by Bazza

Crawler. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

I agree with Robert’s assessment.

Comment by George

How long is the marketing philosophy now Baz?

Comment by George

I don’t talk to competitors.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by George

nerd fighting is the most boring fucking fighting ever.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good post Robert, Though I wonder if in 1977, all marketing documents were a lot simpler than they are today. That is not meant as a criticism, just acknowledging there are many words written without saying very much.

Comment by George

Thank you for posting this Robert, fascinating to read. Reinforces my belief that simple is best.

Comment by Lee Hill

simple isnt best. being able to say it simply is best.
who do i send my fucking enormous invoice to?

Comment by andy@cynic

I love this Rob. You make a really important point regarding companies using lots of language to try and hide that they don’t know who they actually are.

Comment by Pete

most companies dont know who the fuck they are because they are slaves to the money men they want to fucking be patted on the heads by. fucking makes me sick.

Comment by andy@cynic

Written by a guy who had retired at 32 and therefore didn’t have to bow to anyone.

Written by a guy who knows that nobody reads long copy.

Comment by John

Even if he does use impute in an odd way.

Comment by John

Someone luckier then Rob.

Comment by Wayne Green

you mean fucking jammier.

Comment by andy@cynic

It may have been a contemporary approach to marketing, but looking at the page, I notice they stuck with the classic “make the logo bigger” demand.

Comment by Wayne Green

i fucking like this comment.

Comment by andy@cynic

If only creative briefs were that brief.

Comment by DH

and good.

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] to the Apple memo I wrote about recently, this is a celebration of knowing who you […]

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