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Dec 31, 2019

Best Songs of 2019

Better Oblivion Community Center - Dylan Thomas
Jenny Lews - Heads Gonna Roll
Bon Iver - U (Man Like)
Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen
Maggie Rogers - Fallingwater
Big Thief - Masterpiece

Feb 25, 2019

Purpose. Not Products.

 In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO. His first task was to rebuild and reintroduce the Apple brand. The result was the "Think Different" campaign.

Just prior to introducing the new campaign to his colleagues at a company all-hands meeting, Jobs shared his thoughts on the role of marketing:

"Marketing is about values... This is a very complicated world, a very noisy world and we're not going to get the chance to get people to remember us. No company is. So we have to be very clear about what we want people to know about us."

The award-winning “Think Different” commercial did not once mention a computer. In fact, it didn’t even mention Apple by name. Instead, the campaign focused on people and personalities that changed the world. 

Instead of sharing information about their product, Apple focused on creating an emotional connection with their customer — more feeling than function.

The campaign was a tribute to the creative rebels, who thought differently and broke the rules. Although the campaign never once showed the Apple computer, it effectively positioned Apple, and those who purchased an Apple computer as people who were going to change the world — the computer was simply the tool to empower that change.

The most iconic brands in the world spend very little time marketing the features or function of their products. Most of the time, they avoid mentioning products altogether. Instead, they focus their messaging around a purpose or an idea.

In 2011, Patagonia took a stance against consumerism when they told their customers NOT to buy their products. The famous "DON'T BUY THIS JACKET" ad ran on Black Friday was intended to raise awareness around their environmental footprint:

"Each piece of Patagonia clothing, whether or not it’s organic or uses recycled materials, emits several times its weight in greenhouse gases, generates at least another half garment’s worth of scrap, and draws down copious amounts of freshwater now growing scarce everywhere on the planet."

The ad supported Patagonia's mission to inspire and implement solutions to the ongoing environmental crisis.

More recently, Nike took a calculated risk when they launched the Colin Kaepernick campaign during the NFL season opener. The video featured the tagline, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything," highlighting Kaepernick's national anthem protest against police brutality.

The campaign instantly sparked outrage. At the same time, it connected with Nike’s belief-driven buyers — a predominantly millennial demographic who is much more socially and politically active than older audiences. According to a recent ESPN poll, the campaign effectively reached Nike’s core base of 18-29-year-old males, and online sales grew by 31% post-launch.

Nike CEO Mark Parker reportedly told Wall Street analysts that the Kaepernick campaign resulted in "record engagement with the brand."

Nike made a bold bet that their activism would resonate with their core audience. The tagline itself references the collective willingness to take risks to demonstrate values, even if it cost a career in the NFL or sales from certain segments of consumers.

Today's content ecosystem is rapidly shifting. Allowing for and pushing organizations to create content that reflects their beliefs. Previously, organizations were afraid to take risks and opted instead for a one-size-fits-all approach to content. In most cases, organizations completely avoided any polarizing political or cultural issues. In an increasingly noisy world, brands can no longer ignore these subjects. Customers want to know if you’re with them or against them. They want authenticity.

As Phil Knight recently stated during a presentation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business,"You can't be afraid of offending people. You can't try and go down the middle of the road… You have to take a stand on something.”

Brands like Nike, Patagonia, and Apple have become iconic brands because they have clearly communicated their purpose, ideas, and beliefs. This is how communities are formed and brand loyalty is built.

In today's market, customers are looking for more than a product. It's no longer about features or functions -- it's about ideas and beliefs. Today's customers aren’t buying products, they are buying purpose.