For years I used to ponder the Apple ad campaign “Think Different.”
The thing about it was, what I would ponder, was their use of grammar.
Apple, through this campaign, was telling the world that users of Macintosh were different from the rest – they were unique thinkers. This campaign was filled with images of rebels – from Martin Luther King Junior to John Lennon to Albert Einstein.
But the thing was, their use of ‘different’ and not ‘differently.’ By saying “Think different,” Apple was using an adjective, not an adverb. In other words, they were telling you WHAT to think, not HOW.
Of course I appreciate that “Think Different” sounds better than “Think Differently.” The latter just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as satisfyingly. And I imagine that was the driving force behind the decision. I have to give Apple credit that they were smart enough to have realized the grammatical implications of their word choice. And I do believe that they consciously decided to go with their choice because of the strength of the phrase, not the literal translation.
But I also think that Think Different fits better with my view of the company. I believe that they see it as part of their role to tell their customers what to do & what to think – that they know what’s best for their customers.
As much as I think that Apple makes some of the best computer systems out there, I think they apply too much of a heavy-hand on how their components can be used – and I don’t understand the reasoning. The reality is, most customers are only comfortable downloading approved applications and most people are not interested in hacking their Apple TVs or installing OSX on different hardware. To go after this minority of customers is a distraction keeping them from producing even better systems. But I truly believe they can’t help themselves. They are too used to telling their customers WHAT to do, and, WHAT to think.