I have always admired the magic of Steve Jobs even though he sounded like a not-fun guy to work for.
Chief among his many brilliant ideas was his transcendent brand idea…his company and his products would be at “ the intersection of art and technology”. It was not solely about technology or, long term, even about computers as much as creating an aesthetic and one that did the job.
I read a speech of his once and was taken by his very early notion,based on his love affair with calligraphy, that the typography on the Mac should be plentiful and beautiful. In addition to appealing to every designer, art director and artist living or dead, it created a very important difference from the PC that had the typography of an old chemistry book. It reinforced the idea that the Mac was both cool and for the cool and the PC was more like the machinery of the functionaries.
This notion (or really belief) drove the ingenious focus on artful product design as a competitive weapon. Putting art in the heart of the brand led Apple into realms they couldn’t dream of at their beginning…like music. Beautiful design made the link to another art form possible and to the buyer, rational. It also bound them to their primary audience, people who wanted functionality, ease of use and beauty all wrapped up in a product they use. And can show off to others.
It has been said, and I believe it, that the design of a product represents the idea of the product. Think Corvette, the Playboy logo and Oxo.
Too often, companies leave great design to the end and skimp on it believing it to be some sort of nebulous not-necessary foible. The sales message alone will be enough. One of the lessons of the thunderous impact and success of the career of Steve Jobs is to show how incredibly wrong this is.
Interestingly, the most talked about advertising for Apple was the famous 1984 spot, but the best and most resonate was The Crazy Ones spots. Steve Jobs was indeed a Crazy One and perhaps may not have known that the spots were, looking back, autobiographical.
The challenge for Apple is to always jump over the high bar this visionary set for his brand. I will miss the excitement of the unveiling of his newest beautiful ideas.