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Leithal Thinking Brand & Marketing Consultancy

Lessons From Apple On Design Manifestos

Hardly a day goes by without a blog post (or entire blog) criticizing, complaining about or mocking Apple’s latest post-Jobs activity.

It’s to be expected. Any design that stands out from the crowd, by definition, puts its head above the parapet, and opens itself to criticism. This can be good or bad, but at least it gets noticed. And more often than not, in Apple’s case anyway, the slated design becomes the norm and the benchmark for all others (though this remains to be seen for iOS7).

However, there’s another tide that Apple’s brand guardians need to swim against: the anti-cool movement. By inciting the kind of brand loyalty that compels fanboys to camp out for days to get the latest shiny chrome offering, they inevitably put others off. Brand devotion can be a turn-off, and the next big thing can soon become yesterday’s news.

So it’s interesting to see the Apple’s latest drive to humanize the brand. Using that tried and tested weapon of emotive poetic force, the design manifesto.



Aside from inciting a tirade of copy wranglings over whether “No’s” should have an apostrophe or not, it’s a decent bit of writing. It pushes the right buttons in the right ways. It’s not unexpected, but it does the job at reminding us that there are some hugely talented people that make Apple products good, and it’s not just one (now-dead) man that holds it all together.

But where it gets really interesting is how they use this copy. There’s the print ad (above) with the pretty model holding her iPhone adoringly. So far nothing new.

Then there’s the TV ad, which checks all the right emotional boxes. Kids putting hands up in class, father teaching son, couples embracing under umbrella; it covers all heartstring bases with syrupy acoustic guitar to wash down the chunks of cheese. 



But most interesting of all is how they used the manifesto at the keynote of WWDC13 (thanks to @jpmjustice for this).



The visuals provide the perfect accompaniment to the words. And the music keeps it flowing beautifully. No over-earnest voiceover. No pretty models, or couples embracing. There’s not even a single product shot. It's bang on for the conference.

So do a manifesto in different ways for different audiences by all means. But if it doesn’t strike a chord with your nearest and dearest, it will really struggle with your skeptics.

However if you do get it right for your brand devotees, which Apple have neatly done here, you're laughing. The naysayers will always have their naysay, but you’ll be so far ahead you won’t hear them.



Jim Wofff is a Digital Planner based in Edinburgh

Tags: Design Digital