Persuade and convince are not the same thing. To convince is to appeal to reason, to cause someone else to think different. To persuade is more of an emotional appeal, to cause someone to act.
"Think different" was Apple's advertising slogan for its 1997 campaign. The philosophy behind this watershed moment in the life of Apple's branding was captured in a rarely seen seven minute video featuring Steve Jobs discussing their ad strategy at an internal meeting upon his return to Apple in 1997.
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From the video:
"Nike sells a commodity. They sell shoes! And yet, when you think of Nike, you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don't ever talk about the product. They don't ever talk about their air soles and why they are better than Reebok's air soles. What does Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes. They honor great athletics. That's who they are, that's what they are about. Apple spends a fortune on advertising. You'd never know it. "
Steve's admission that Apple spent a fortune on advertising that, up to that point, went largely unnoticed -the sole exception being the famous 1984 video- was a crucial discovery that would dictate a change in direction. Steve believed, resolutely, in the superiority of Apple's product but he realized the world needed to be persuaded to his point of view. Reading dozens of articles about Steve Job's life over the past week has clarified what Steve Jobs was exceptional at: persuasion. Yes, he cast a big vision, crafted an exceptional line of products, built items you didn't even know you needed, but what he did well, extremely well, was convert with cult-like fanaticism.
Reminds me that you can't simply build better products and expect people to come on their own accord. "Build it and they will come", is a gross oversimplification of the Apple brand. Millions of people didn't buy iPhones, Macs and iPads without persuasion. From the famous Job's keynote speeches (labeled "Stevenotes") to Apple's penchant for minimalistic, beautiful design: every curvature of the product, every ad, every television commercial, every single facet of Apple's product development was crafted to further entice and compel.
"Think Different" might have been the new campaign slogan in 1997 but "convert zealously" was the new call to action. Steve Jobs raised the practice of persuasion to an art form.
Apple's chief persuader will be missed.