A few years ago, We worked with a client that had the mantra ‘What Would Apple Do?’ (WWAD?). It was something he’d say out loud when he had a challenge. It was interesting in many ways, but mainly it was the fact he did it at all. This post is trying to sort in my mind what those four words actually mean and if they are something we should all say (a bit)?
Apple has been in most designers lives for quite some time. Even the first computer I personally worked on was small screened black and white Mac Plus. That was back in the late 80’s. Since then I’ve probably own a dozen myself. It’s a fact though, that during intervening period Apple have made some truly awful decisions and have been at the brink of collapse more than once. They’ve also been connected with some less than perfect manufacturing practices.
So why would the mantra ‘WWAD?’ be something people would use?
Some of this is most definitely down to the mythology that Apple have created around themselves. The design led mavericks of the computer world have their fair share of stories told about them; from the friend who decided not to buy the shares back in the 90’s (which would have been worth millions today), to the people who used the CD tray as a cup holder.
A huge chunk of the Apple legend is down to Steve Jobs, his ethos and his passion permeating every product that they released. His idea that ‘The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do‘ really takes peoples imagination. And his steadfast view that ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’
To the world, Apple wanted to be seen to ‘Think Different’, their strap-line for a great many years (1997 to 2002). Advertising (by TBWAChiatDay), both in print and video. The campaign illuminated the pioneers, the visionaries and the rebels. An idea that has since pushed a great number of people to … ‘Think Different‘.
So is this what ‘WWAD?’ is all about then: thinking different?
On the face of it thinking different isn’t always a bad thing. Advertising agencies have built reputations on zigging when everyone else zagged. Wanting to be seen the maverick black sheep of the industry. Creatives are always trying to do something that shocks or jars an audience. From music to theatre to film to design, shock value gets you noticed.
It’s not always a good thing though.
thinking different for no discernible reason is more like just being bloody minded
It can create competition where there is none and thinking different for no discernible reason is more like just being bloody minded. It can make you stand out from the crowd, but if there is no relevance to why you stand proud and alone, it won’t help you. It may also create a culture of ‘leaping before you look’. It can also just make you seem an odd ball. none of which are really things that do well for most brands.
However, at its best, thinking different is what actually creates the distance between one company and its peers, and in a good way. It can be a sea change moment for an organisation, a point where people can look back at and understand that that was when everything moved forwards. Sometimes the people who do things differently are the innovators of the world.
Vacuum cleaners all pretty much looked the same before Dyson. Cars were all out of reach of the every day person before Ford and computers were all square and beige before Apple.
Thinking different could be advertising when everyone else is battening down the hatches. Expanding when all the competition are looking to consolidate. Putting money into New Product Development (NPD) when the market is ticking over nicely or launching new products in times of hardship (or even full lockdown).
One being named recently as one of fifteen food entrepreneurs to watch in 2021 by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards
In fact this is what a couple of our clients have done. One being named recently as one of fifteen food entrepreneurs to watch in 2021 by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. In her case, thinking different worked well. Both of them though, have a drive that makes them take chances. Pushes them to try something new, to build something fresh.
From all this, maybe the whole mantra of ‘WWAD?’ is more about the pioneer spirit, trying to push the boundaries of business. Looking to the horizon and wanting to go further. The whole idea of ‘WWAD?’ is not about conforming to the book on how to do business, but at the same time, it’s not about throwing it out the window. It’s possible ‘WWAD?’ is all about taking educated risks, pushing as hard as you can to get the goal you have.
Thinking how Apple is viewed today: A company that, despite all the shaky moments in time and depending how it’s measured, is pretty much always in the top ten globally recognised companies in terms of stock value and brand value. For them, the thinking different, pioneer mentality seems to have worked.
So is ‘WWAD?’ a bad mantra and would it work for everyone? Possibly not. Is the idea behind it something we should all strive for? Probably.
The last bit
There is an added element to the whole ‘WWAD?’ mantra. If your company is cash rich then there is an ability to sometimes throw caution to the wind in some relatively small ways. To build something that may never see the light of day, to create just for the sake of creating something no one else has. If you’re a normal business person with a modest sized company, the ‘WWAD?’ mantra could easily be a matter of survival. This is where the true pioneers live.
Here at Puur, every element of work we deliver is unique, we ensure that the projects we deliver for our clients are bespoke to their needs in and out of lockdown. We focus on delivering value for money and return on investment. Creativity, craftsmanship and the attention to detail are at our core. Our decades of experience from both sides of the design ‘fence’ gives us a strong understanding of what is needed for branding and packaging to be truly successful.