The inspiration for Apple’s acclaimed ‘Think different’ ad campaign

“Legend has it that way back when the PC dinosaurs still walked the Earth, returning company co-founder Steve Jobs sought a mantra to show Apple was back in business, and the acclaimed ‘Think Different’ campaign was born,” Jonny Evans reports for Computerworld.

“I thought some readers might be interested in something new I’ve learned about the genesis of the campaign, which turns out (or so it is claimed) to be the brainchild of Chiat\Day art director, Craig Tanimoto,” Evans reports. “Here’s what happened, according to Jonathan Littman, who spent two days with Tanimoto researching his next book… ‘He doodled some Apple logos, shooting off radiant power lines. Tanimoto drew further inspiration from Rene Magritte’s seminal surrealist work, Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”

“What would become ‘Think Different’ was gestating, but hadn’t quite been born. Tanimoto began drawing cartoon characters, reflecting on ‘how some are unique and some are social outcasts,'” Evans reports. “He put a slogan on the sketches. That slogan was ‘Think Different,’ and the slogan stuck.”

Much more in the full article here.

“The rest, as they say, is history,” Jonathan Littman writes for SmartUp. “The bold campaign, running on TV and in print, with images of transformational giants like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pablo Picasso, rejuvenated Apple and ushered in a new age, turning personal computing into a catalyzing metaphor for rebellion, individuality, and change.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: The leap from “This is not a box” to “Think different” seems so logical in hindsight!


  1. While the 1984 commercial won all the awards, the Think Different campaign was so much more powerful.

    I remember my loyalty to the Mac was wavering in the mid to late 90s. But then the Think Different campaign came out and I identified with the entire concept of thinking different and being a square peg in a land of round holes. Fortunately, Apple then followed with one stunning product after another to rebuild my loyalty to the Mac and the Apple brand.

    I still have nightmares about if Steve had not returned to Apple and we were all stuck in the Windows universe. That is a frightening thought.

  2. I hate to throw cold water on this article, but the fact is that IBM used “Think” for decades before “Think Different” was adopted by Apple. The whole idea was to put Apple in opposition to Big Blue.

    1. ‘Think Different’ was a phrase that talked to the values and possibilities of the Apple of old. Steve knew they needed to get back to what made Apple a great company – their ability and instinct to ‘Think Different’.

      What your saying is actually completety incorrect, It was in fact about NOT limiting their view of the world by just competing with IBM or wintel machines – because they had been trying to do that and had been failing miserably.

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