This article is taken from the content marketing white paper “The Idea Doctrine.”

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Apple has experienced it’s fair share of ups and downs, but none match it’s annihilation at the hands of Microsoft during the 1990’s. Bill Gates delivered several crippling blows, the worst of which was Microsoft Office, a one-stop shop for business and educational effectiveness which revolutionised how we used computers, and put the final nail in the coffin of the mechanical typewriter.
Steve Jobs returned to the CEO role, and was met with boos and jeers at his first internal meeting, and then proceeded to add to the fury by introducing a partnership with Microsoft to put Office on Apple hardware – an unthinkable sin in the true believer’s eyes.
He then set about removing most of Apple’s product line in order to focus on core products, and create advertising based on emotional engagement. In retrospect, this was a genius move, but for the developers working for Apple, it was nothing short of treachery. Jobs was seen as the enemy, out to sell the company.
Internally, Jobs did little to allay people’s concerns – even telling staff members that he was too busy with other projects, such as Pixar Studios, to commit fully to Apple. As with everything he did, this was a carefully planned out strategy. He watched as people who prioritised stability over ingenuity left the company in droves. In a symbolic gesture, the Apple Museum which sat in the atrium of Apple’s offices, was removed, with Jobs explaining that the business needed to move forward, without looking to the mistakes of the past.

Then, Steve Jobs sold the idea, like only he could.

Arriving at an internal meeting, which was filmed for the benefit of journalists, analysts and anyone else who was interested in paying attention, Jobs was already in character. Wearing shorts and a jumper, carrying a coffee cup he apologised for being late.
“We were up until 3 o’clock last night.”
Then, he launched into a speech about where Apple has been, and the changes it needs to make. The coffee cup, was barely touched as the showman built up to his crescendo.
“Apple is about more than selling boxes…”
Those in the crowd were on the edge of their seat, as Jobs lazily fell onto the side of the chair and said what was in retrospect, the reason for the meeting in the first place.
“We believe that people with passion can change the world. That’s what we believe.”
Then, he showed a film. It was to become one of the most iconic advertising campaigns of all time. “Think Different,” voiced by Richard Drefus showed clips of famous thinkers throughout history – innovators like Einstein, Ali and Dali, a vast majority of those in the ad had died long before computers were even invented, but that wasn’t the point.
“If they had used a computer,” said Jobs. “It would have been a Mac.”
The idea at the core of this campaign, which was to become central to Apple’s meteoric return to the top of the Silicon Valley pile, was a powerful promise to those choosing a computer.
“Creative people choose Apple.”
The idea, so simple and in stark contrast to Microsoft’s tech-heavy image, quickly took hold. Those in the creative industries, and those that wanted to be seen as innovators and lateral thinkers purchased Macs; not because the software was better, but because the idea inherently linked the product to their identity.
“I’m creative because I use Apple.”
Soon, the idea became more powerful and businesses who wanted to be seen as innovative, cutting-edge or different moved over to Apple.
Jobs knew, that to maintain the competitive edge, all he had to do was to continually nurture the idea, and keep it connected to user’s identity, it’s not just an iPad, it’s me. The best way to do this was to make the product visible.
White headphones.
Silver laptops.
White desktops.
Apple ignored all the rules, and prioritised the core idea, “I’m creative because I use Apple,” at the expense of everything else. Advertising revolved around emotional connection – transferring the idea even further into the hands of the user. Purchasing an iPhone, MacBook or iPad became a matter of pride, because boring people don’t use Apple products.
Apple then took this to the next level, essentially sharing the idea in the powerful, “I’m a Mac,” ad campaign, where two people – one young, with long hair and relaxed clothes takes on the persona of a Mac. On the other side of the screen, an older balding gentleman is the unfortunate PC. Apple asked the question blatantly – “Who would you rather be?”
It’s often been pointed out, that Steve Jobs wasn’t a programming genius, but he understood the power of an idea, and who should own it. He transferred the idea from himself to millions upon millions of Apple users, and aspirational users around the world.