Communicating Values

“Ideas that spread, win.” — Seth Godin

Marketing is all about perceptions. When consumers perceive your product to be of a higher value than others, you win. The best way to do that is not to talk about what your products are, but rather about whom you are and what you believe in.


“Marketing is about values.” Steve Jobs uttered these words as he unveiled the “Think Different” campaign in 1997. The reason that the think different campaign is immensely successful is because its profound message. The fundamental idea: “people with passion can change the world, for the better” resonated with the audience. The message, “those who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do” connected truthfully with people with dreams and aspirations. In the TV ad, Apple didn’t talk about its products, nor did it talk its strategies; there were no appeals to humour or fear. Instead, it focused on what the company aspired to be. It showed the world what kind people Apple admired. It showed the audience what Apple valued and cared about. It inspired its audiences to get moving, and think differently – to be bold and not be afraid of challenging the status quo and to always look for ways to change the world for the better.



Nike sells a commodity – shoes. Yet it stands as one of the most well-known brands in the world. Why? Some of Nike’s success can be attributed to the iconic “Just Do It” campaign. After decades of iteration, the tag line has become part of the cosmopolitan psyche. Similar to Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, once again values were being present here instead of the product. Values such as being fearless and resolute are communicated by the ads. The message of “stop procrastinating, do what you need and have to do” is so impactful that in some instance it did change people’s lives. Many women sent in letters thanking Nike for giving them the courage to end their bad marriages. This shows the profound power of a properly communicated brand message. It not only speaks to people but also has the potential to empower them — and fundamentally change their lives.

One memorable iteration: COURAGE (2008)


What is in common here is that both campaigns appealed to people’s values. Specifically, they targeted self-actualization and self-transcendence needs in Maslow’s hierarchy. When done right, marketing not only has the potential to turnaround a failing brand image, it also has the power to change people’s lives.


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