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What Steve Jobs Knew About the Importance of Values to Your Company

By Dana Byerlee | Small Business

Steve Jobs Talk About Branding from RANSON on Vimeo.

The future of profit is purpose. We say this often at We First, but this is something Steve Jobs understood so well, almost 20 years ago. Always a visionary, Jobs was already living in Marketing 3.0 where marketing is about meaning, values, and legacy.

In this classic video, Jobs talks about his experience of how important it is to define a company’s core values and bring them to life. Here are three takeaways for today’s purpose-driven brands and those aspiring to become one:

Even great brands need to invest in meaning if they want to remain great. In this dynamic customer-driven marketplace, no one is safe. Whether you’re Apple, Nike or Coke, you need thoughtful investment into defining your company’s mission if you hope to retain you relevance, value, and vitality.

“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.” – Steve Jobs

Lead with legacy. Many brands are still lost in the weeds and too focused on talking about product features, price, or competitor slamming. Jobs refers to Nike as one of the great examples of forward-thinking, values-driven marketing: Though Nike has always played in a heavily commoditized market (after all, they just sell shoes) when you think of Nike you feel something. Nike doesn’t spend time talking about their product, what kind of soles sneakers have, or why they are better than their competitors. Nike reaches for a higher purpose: It honors great athletes and great athletics.

Why do you exist? An undefined brand is unshareable and Jobs shares the two questions Apple started with to bring the company back:

-Who is Apple?

-What does Apple stand for and where do we fit in this world?

Jobs knew the difference between what and why. That Apple makes products for people to get their jobs done better only address what they do. But here’s Apple’s ‘why’ according to Jobs: “Apple believes that people with passion can change the world for the better. And those people that are crazy enough to think that they can, are the ones who actually do.”

It was only by taking the time to define these core values that they could be brought to life in Apple’s now iconic “Think Different” campaign which “honors the people who move this world forward, and touches the soul of this company.”

Only 20% of brands worldwide are seen to meaningfully and positively impact people’s lives, and as social technology continues to drive consumer activism, many companies are waking up to the realization that articulating their values and mission is not fluff. Instead, articulating how your brand brings its core values to life is now critical in terms of the reputational, employee productivity and bottom line benefits- or liabilities- to your company.

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