In 1997, what was then known as Apple Computer, Inc., — a company that was reportedly “hemorrhaging” at the time, according to co-founder Steve Jobs — rolled out a new advertising slogan.
The legendary campaign featured a rainbow-colored Apple insignia on a black background, with the simple white text below it, encouraging viewers to: “Think different.” The contrasting logo, background, and text, as discussed by Rob Siltanen, who was the creative director for the marketing firm making the pitch, “seemed to make the ‘Think Different’ statement all the more bold.”
Something within that slogan resonates loudly within me… the boldness… the encouragement… and the freedom… the freedom that acknowledges, “No, we don’t all have to think the same way.” In fact, it doesn’t make sense to me that we all must think the same way; it doesn’t even seem wise. Repeatedly, we have witnessed how we are strengthened and sharpened by the different.
But that message seems increasingly counter-cultural, as in recent weeks, many have asserted that all “identities” must think alike… all of one gender to one ethnicity, all of one religion to one political party, even from all celebrities to all assault victims…
… that for some reason, we must think exactly alike, sharing the same perspective.
And if we don’t, unfortunately, two conclusions seem to be made, perpetuated by these so-called, humanly crafted tribes:
One, you are wrong.
And two, you are not really one of us.
You do not — cannot — belong to my “tribe.”
Just like that we judge another, dismiss perspective, and kill the bold encouragement to “think different.”
Last week I walked with a trusted friend. We do so weekly and always look forward to the next week; this was no different. Strolling around the neighborhood, we shared and discussed our perspectives on recent current events. As we walked, we uncovered a significant area where our reactions were strikingly different; we did not agree. But instead of either of us walking away or refusing to listen or even concluding that we were totally in the right and the other was totally in the wrong, we walked longer, talked longer, asked more questions, and listened more intently. I don’t know that in the end either of us significantly altered our perspective, but I can say that there was no conclusion that one of us was totally right, the other was totally wrong, and that we are no longer similar to the other… that we are no longer capable of being trusted friends. There was instead a keen awareness, acceptance, and acknowledgement of the bold freedom — and inherent wisdom — to “think different.”
Note that for Apple, the “Think different” campaign was considered wildly successful. In addition to receiving numerous advertising accolades and awards, the campaign was said to have transformed the company and “marked the beginning of Apple’s re-emergence as a marketing powerhouse.”
Said, too, by Siltanen, “It was the exact kind of attention-getting and thought-provoking advertising Apple desperately needed.”
Maybe that’s what the rest of us need, too… an awareness, acceptance, and acknowledgement of the bold freedom — and inherent wisdom — to actually “think different.”