It’s the mid-90s. Steve Jobs has just returned to Apple in an effort to rebuild his brand. They've fired their advertising firm. They've trashed the approach. They need to start from scratch.
In the video embedded below, Jobs provides some of his signature “Jobsian” wisdom on how to build a brand. But it’s not a step-by-step guide or series of tips like the oodles of branding content you’d typically find. He reduces brand marketing down to its core, its simplest form, which is telling people who you are.
“It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us,” he says.
To most companies, telling people who you are means detailing what you do. But Jobs would say that’s a mistake. Apple doesn’t talk about megahertz or boxes that let you get your job done in the same way that Nike doesn’t talk about air soles or even shoes. What you do is important, but the far more important thing to impart is what you’re about.
If you head out into the web and look at enough staffing websites, you’ll quickly see what Jobs is saying. Other than a logo and an industry they specialize in, there’s very little difference between what one staffing company offers compared to others. Therefore their websites (a major indicator of brand) fails to differentiate from the competition and answer a simple consumer question: “why should I pick you?”
I’ve helped several staffing companies with their website content, and the best ones have a very clear understanding of what they’re about. They have clear values/missions/goals, a discernible voice or culture, and they communicate them via their brand, giving visitors an instant sense of who they are.
Watch the short video, and the consequent ad campaign they unleashed. It’s a pretty convincing argument, and a good starting point if you’re thinking about your brand identity. (If you’re a Jobs/Apple fanatic, you know about the upcoming film with Ashton Kutcher. But did you also see Kutcher's recent appearance on the Teen Choice Awards where Jobs' spirit suddenly leapt into his skin and spoke for him? It was weird.)