Monthly Archives: May 2013

Apple after Steve Jobs. Who will be the new dictator?

Image I love my eleven inch Macbook Air. But when I see a grey suited, white shirted, maroon tied elderly conservative gentleman with an Apple Macbook Air on his lap it kind of does something to me. It makes me want to distance myself from my own Macbook Air. And that’s not good for Apple.

There’s a growing sense that Apple is losing its shine. And ubiquity has a lot to do with it. It’s when successful brands become the victim of their own success.

Apple has a few other problems too. And they all point in the same direction.

Last month I spent some time in the office of the Global CMO of one of the world’s best brands. A brand he can fairly say he had a major hand in creating. The walls of his Amsterdam office were lined with ads, posters, packaging and other bits of branded material in a good sample of the world’s major languages. Consistent look. Consistent feel. Like any global brand. But not this watered down, middle of the road, lowest common denominator kind of consistency. This was consistently with attitude. Consistently with edge. Consistently with point of view. Consistently with style. Like a handful of great global brands.

This is an expressive, compelling, interesting CMO. Some call him opinionated. I call him a man with an opinion – with the independent mind to form it and with the individual courage to express and defend it. A rare breed in a global corporate world rushing towards boring sameness.

“That work is all mine. I am the only person who will put his aesthetic stamp on it. And I don’t care whether mine is the best stamp or not. But I know it needs the stamp of one man.”

Spot on.

You’ve probably read the Steve Jobs biography.

Yes it’s true. He was a dictator.

A dictator for the consumer.

A man who trusted his insight sufficiently to make major decisions without the crutch of research. A man who, when asked what were his criteria for approving a new product launch, replied, “if I am proud to show it to my family, then I launch.”

A man who operated as much with his analytical left brain as he did with his holistic right brain. A rare marketer. An even more rare leader.

The world is suffering from a lack of leadership. Those rare left brain/right brain hybrids who see the big picture as well as the parts. Those with enough humanity to intuitively understand human nature. Those with the analytical skills to deconstruct and reconstruct the world to make it, in a big or small way, a better place. Those with the ability to win support. Not because they present a watered down middle of the road point of view that can’t be rejected but can be ignored. But because they present a point of view that can’t be ignored.

Apple after Steve Jobs.

Who will be the new dictator?