Where did think different come from?

Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, which relaunched its corporate image in 1997 and then introduced the iMac was not written by Steve Jobs, according to Rob Siltanen, a former executive who was on the agency’s Apple account at the time. The phrase came from Craig Tanimoto, an art director at TBWA, Siltanen says in a piece written for FORBES.

It’s interesting stuff: Especially as Walter Isaacson’s recent biography of Jobs says that Jobs used the phrase “Think Different” in a speech before the ad campaign was released. He had heard the tagline delivered to him in pitch meetings form the TBWA team prior to the address at Boston MacWorld that August.

Think Different campaign (Although he did credit Tanimoto with dreaming up the slogan, which was up on a wall in the office with a bunch of other things before it was finally selected as the official tagline.) And, of course, TBWA chairman Lee Clow was credited with proposing “Think Different” to Jobs in Alan Deutschman’s 2001 book.

Steve Jobs Apple - Profile Photo
Doubtless there is a difference between specifically originating the phrase “Think Different”; being the author of the entire campaign (which both Siltanen and Segall claim); proposing the phrase to Jobs; and Jobs himself using the phrase publicly first. They were all on the Apple/TBWA team, working together. The stories don’t specifically contradict each other. Success has many fathers, unfortunately we just don’t know who the first one is in this situation.

So where are we now?

Let’s fast forward 40+ years to the future. Let’s look at the iconic Apple and its rise to power and how that monopoly is now the epitome of everything they fought against. 


If you’ve played the game FortNite, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, well, let’s just say it is a modern day David vs Goliath. Goliath being Apple in this scenario. “Think Different” was iconic, it was meant to push creativity forward. However, with innovation and industry-leading technologies comes the demand from shareholders to perform. 


That comes at a cost. FortNite is fighting it and even shared a clever video in their fight. Parody aside, Apple has revolutionized the way we live our lives and interact with it. I wouldn’t begin to choose sides in the Apple/FortNite debacle, but I can see how at the end of the day the only people who will truly suffer are the customers. 


Maybe it’s time all these tech firms start to think differently, again?

Do we think different? Well..... 1