Branding: How to Be Insanely Great
It’s been interesting absorbing all the interviews and commentary about Steve Jobs since his passing. His accomplishments, quotes, lessons learned and look on life are all fascinating. I resonate with many of his principles — e.g., follow your curiosity and intuition; think differently; fail forward; connect the dots; innovate your way out of problems; stay hungry; stay foolish; and it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. As a brand builder, merchant and creative strategist, what spoke to me most was his idea of wanting to do “insanely great” work.
I often collaborate with clients to create brand and product fit charts (or road maps) to help their teams define the essence of their brand’s positioning. These fit charts become companies’ guardrails and help leaders make decisions that are unique to their brand — not their competitor’s. The charts help guide businesses when considering new categories, ventures and services. Fit charts generally contain seven adjectives or phrases to 10 adjectives or phrases that paint a top-level, brand-differentiating picture which provides a quick glimpse into a brand’s personality and what makes it tick.
Insanely great is what Jobs dubbed his original Mac, which sold for a cool $2,495. A bold and audacious statement about a bold and audacious product. True to Apple’s simple but profound world view, insanely great became the retailer’s brand and product fit chart. Those two powerful words became Apple’s execution bar. When Jobs unveiled his products to the world (e.g., iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad), they couldn’t be just good or great, they had to be insanely great. Renowned business consultant Jim Collins encourages companies to go from “good to great.” Jobs routinely pushed way past that.
Nearly three decades later, insanely great are still top-of-mind words at Apple. Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, shared this at Jobs’ company memorial: “Steve never followed the herd. He thought deeply about almost everything and was the most unconventional thinker I have ever known. He always did what he thought was right, not what was easy. He never accepted merely good. He would only accept great — insanely great.”
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.