What Can We Learn About Thinking Differently From Studying Apple’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ Advertising Campaign?

I decided recently that it’s time to get this blog focused a little more on … helping people think differently.

So, I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about just what exactly it means to “think differently” (and I list 12 ways to think differently below).  The meaning of ‘think differently” is not as simple as it sounds!

In the middle of thinking about what it means to think differently, I stumbled across Wikipedia’s article on Apple Computer’s 1997 “Think Different” campaign.

The “Think Different” campaign was fascinating for several reasons, including that prior to this campaign most computer products were marketed in general computer magazines, but this campaign was a brand campaign that went well beyond the traditional outlets. In addition, there was no product placement in the advertisements.

Most striking of all though was that the campaign was based largely around a poem, “the Crazy Ones” written by Craig Tanimoto, a copywriter at Chiat/Day (the agency that produced the campaign). Here is the full version of the poem:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

You can see the poem in the television advertisement, which juxtaposes a voiceover of the poem with figures of iconic innovators and revolutionaries, people who committed to standing out, standing up, and who made made a difference.

The campaign is very clever, of course, because it made a brand association between Apple’s computer products and some of the most creative, innovative and influential minds of the 20th century. In all likelihood, when you see and hear the advertisement you identify and want to be one of these crazy ones, one of these innovators, one of these people changing the world.

But the advertising is also interesting because it explores who thinks differently – how people who “think different” can be geniuses or misfits or exceptional or stubborn, they might or might not fit in. But they make a difference. They do important work. And in doing so they change the world. And in 1997 Apple suggested subtly that the tool for people making this kind of difference is an Apple computer.

I have been thinking about 12 different ways that we can think differently. And the beauty is, in Apple’s 1997 poem and television campaign, we can see virtually all of them.

So here they are. 12 different ways to think differently:

  1. Being a revolutionary – questioning the old ways of doing things
  2. Being an innovator – creating new and powerful ways to do things
  3. Being a creative – giving birth and expression to new and powerful ideas
  4. Being a performer – pushing the boundaries and thinking in new ways that lead to improved results
  5. Being a seeker – gaining a deeper and better understanding of the world
  6. Being a visionary – having an expanded vision of what is possible and what is worthwhile
  7. Being an independent – thinking independently for yourself
  8. Being wise – gaining a different and informed perspective
  9. Being a leader – having the courage to discover and and express your individual uniqueness
  10. Being a change agent – leading people or groups through change
  11. Being committed – committing to making a difference
  12. Being authentic – discovering who you are, and having the courage to bring your true self to the world you live in

What do you think? Can you think of any other ways to ‘think differently’?

8 Responses to What Can We Learn About Thinking Differently From Studying Apple’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ Advertising Campaign?
  1. Joseph D'Souza
    April 22, 2011 | 12:50 AM

    Great pondering Lauchlan! I also say that a lot of original thinking comes from just being 'open'. Such a quiet or silent mind (Holy Grail!!!) can be quite paradigm shifting after which where thinking is neither reactive nor agenda seeking.

  2. Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon
    April 22, 2011 | 1:32 AM

    Hi Joseph

    Great point!

    Even going for a walk or doing the dishes (manually!) can get the mind in to a state of flow where ideas and thoughts come readily.

  3. Register domain name
    July 21, 2011 | 12:44 PM

    Now a day, thinking different and innovative thinking is very much famous among people because daily new new updates are coming to market. It is a proof for innovative thinking.

  4. Graeme Bentley
    September 9, 2011 | 3:37 AM

    Hi Lauchlan – nice to catch up again,

    To me the number one differentiator of thought processes, is between being a “consumer” and a “producer”! Read your list of 12 points again in this light.

    Sadly, modern society is relentlessly pushing consumerism and the saddest to see is the loss of children’s creative “play”. All too often we hear, “There’s nothing to do!”, but they really mean “There is nothing to entertain me!” (for me to consume). The ability to think creatively and to make one’s own fun is at an all-time low.

    I think it was whilst browsing the internet and reading BLOGS that it suddenly struck me that I was spending all my time “consuming” other peoples writing and not actually “producing/creating” anything of my own.

    It was the process of trying to kick-start my own BLOG that I became acutely aware of the different thinking processes involved between “internalizing” what I “consume”, and “externalizing” my internal thoughts. Some people have a natural ability to create for its own sake. But for myself, I need to choose a target “audience” and presentation “style/approach” to provide drive and structure to my “production”. I find my brain has to flip-flop between two different modes. There’s analysis (normally associated with internalization) to collate and categorize details for “output” – but it is now “guided” analysis toward the chosen target. Then there’s the creative “production” required to put the assembled facts into the best communicative format (narrative, pictorial, tactile, allegorical, etc, etc).

    The following has been around for ages to highlight the changes in the computing industry from DP to IT/IS/ICT to KM.

    Data         + Processing = Information;
    Information + Semantics  = Knowledge;
    Knowledge   + Insight    = Wisdom;

    The 1st is primarily consumptive with a lot of data recording and a little production (of information, reporting, etc).
    The 2nd is much more ‘productive’ with a lot of ad hoc analysis of the recorded data, putting the information into context to produce a response to the KM user’s request.
    The 3rd tries to capture human creativity that is beyond computing.

    Sorry if this is a bit long for a “comment”.

    Best regards,
    Graeme Bentley
    (http://http://geebiz.blogspot.com/)

  5. Jym Tarrant
    October 10, 2011 | 12:35 PM

    Great post Lauchlan.

    I hadn’t seen that, but it’s a brilliant piece of marketing for all the reasons you described. Of course Steve Jobs is suddenly a hot news item, but looking back at the ship he steered over the years with Apple – he’s not in unfamiliar company amongst the people in this video.

    Nicely shared mate!

  6. vinay
    October 29, 2011 | 12:21 PM

    i also believe in Think Different .
    Visit my web you will get to know.
    Keep going .
    all the best .

  7. […] the famous 1997 Apple poster campaign had as its strap line, this is what it needs to do again – THINK […]

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What Can We Learn About Thinking Differently From Studying Apple’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ Advertising Campaign?

I decided recently that it’s time to get this blog focused a little more on … helping people think differently.

So, I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about just what exactly it means to “think differently” (and I list 12 ways to think differently below).  The meaning of ‘think differently” is not as simple as it sounds!

In the middle of thinking about what it means to think differently, I stumbled across Wikipedia’s article on Apple Computer’s 1997 “Think Different” campaign.

The “Think Different” campaign was fascinating for several reasons, including that prior to this campaign most computer products were marketed in general computer magazines, but this campaign was a brand campaign that went well beyond the traditional outlets. In addition, there was no product placement in the advertisements.

Most striking of all though was that the campaign was based largely around a poem, “the Crazy Ones” written by Craig Tanimoto, a copywriter at Chiat/Day (the agency that produced the campaign). Here is the full version of the poem:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

You can see the poem in the television advertisement, which juxtaposes a voiceover of the poem with figures of iconic innovators and revolutionaries, people who committed to standing out, standing up, and who made made a difference.

The campaign is very clever, of course, because it made a brand association between Apple’s computer products and some of the most creative, innovative and influential minds of the 20th century. In all likelihood, when you see and hear the advertisement you identify and want to be one of these crazy ones, one of these innovators, one of these people changing the world.

But the advertising is also interesting because it explores who thinks differently – how people who “think different” can be geniuses or misfits or exceptional or stubborn, they might or might not fit in. But they make a difference. They do important work. And in doing so they change the world. And in 1997 Apple suggested subtly that the tool for people making this kind of difference is an Apple computer.

I have been thinking about 12 different ways that we can think differently. And the beauty is, in Apple’s 1997 poem and television campaign, we can see virtually all of them.

So here they are. 12 different ways to think differently:

  1. Being a revolutionary – questioning the old ways of doing things
  2. Being an innovator – creating new and powerful ways to do things
  3. Being a creative – giving birth and expression to new and powerful ideas
  4. Being a performer – pushing the boundaries and thinking in new ways that lead to improved results
  5. Being a seeker – gaining a deeper and better understanding of the world
  6. Being a visionary – having an expanded vision of what is possible and what is worthwhile
  7. Being an independent – thinking independently for yourself
  8. Being wise – gaining a different and informed perspective
  9. Being a leader – having the courage to discover and and express your individual uniqueness
  10. Being a change agent – leading people or groups through change
  11. Being committed – committing to making a difference
  12. Being authentic – discovering who you are, and having the courage to bring your true self to the world you live in

What do you think? Can you think of any other ways to ‘think differently’?

8 Responses to What Can We Learn About Thinking Differently From Studying Apple’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ Advertising Campaign?
  1. Joseph D'Souza
    April 22, 2011 | 12:50 AM

    Great pondering Lauchlan! I also say that a lot of original thinking comes from just being 'open'. Such a quiet or silent mind (Holy Grail!!!) can be quite paradigm shifting after which where thinking is neither reactive nor agenda seeking.

  2. Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon
    April 22, 2011 | 1:32 AM

    Hi Joseph

    Great point!

    Even going for a walk or doing the dishes (manually!) can get the mind in to a state of flow where ideas and thoughts come readily.

  3. Register domain name
    July 21, 2011 | 12:44 PM

    Now a day, thinking different and innovative thinking is very much famous among people because daily new new updates are coming to market. It is a proof for innovative thinking.

  4. Graeme Bentley
    September 9, 2011 | 3:37 AM

    Hi Lauchlan – nice to catch up again,

    To me the number one differentiator of thought processes, is between being a “consumer” and a “producer”! Read your list of 12 points again in this light.

    Sadly, modern society is relentlessly pushing consumerism and the saddest to see is the loss of children’s creative “play”. All too often we hear, “There’s nothing to do!”, but they really mean “There is nothing to entertain me!” (for me to consume). The ability to think creatively and to make one’s own fun is at an all-time low.

    I think it was whilst browsing the internet and reading BLOGS that it suddenly struck me that I was spending all my time “consuming” other peoples writing and not actually “producing/creating” anything of my own.

    It was the process of trying to kick-start my own BLOG that I became acutely aware of the different thinking processes involved between “internalizing” what I “consume”, and “externalizing” my internal thoughts. Some people have a natural ability to create for its own sake. But for myself, I need to choose a target “audience” and presentation “style/approach” to provide drive and structure to my “production”. I find my brain has to flip-flop between two different modes. There’s analysis (normally associated with internalization) to collate and categorize details for “output” – but it is now “guided” analysis toward the chosen target. Then there’s the creative “production” required to put the assembled facts into the best communicative format (narrative, pictorial, tactile, allegorical, etc, etc).

    The following has been around for ages to highlight the changes in the computing industry from DP to IT/IS/ICT to KM.

    Data         + Processing = Information;
    Information + Semantics  = Knowledge;
    Knowledge   + Insight    = Wisdom;

    The 1st is primarily consumptive with a lot of data recording and a little production (of information, reporting, etc).
    The 2nd is much more ‘productive’ with a lot of ad hoc analysis of the recorded data, putting the information into context to produce a response to the KM user’s request.
    The 3rd tries to capture human creativity that is beyond computing.

    Sorry if this is a bit long for a “comment”.

    Best regards,
    Graeme Bentley
    (http://http://geebiz.blogspot.com/)

  5. Jym Tarrant
    October 10, 2011 | 12:35 PM

    Great post Lauchlan.

    I hadn’t seen that, but it’s a brilliant piece of marketing for all the reasons you described. Of course Steve Jobs is suddenly a hot news item, but looking back at the ship he steered over the years with Apple – he’s not in unfamiliar company amongst the people in this video.

    Nicely shared mate!

  6. vinay
    October 29, 2011 | 12:21 PM

    i also believe in Think Different .
    Visit my web you will get to know.
    Keep going .
    all the best .

  7. […] the famous 1997 Apple poster campaign had as its strap line, this is what it needs to do again – THINK […]

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