Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Taking a Big Bite of Apple

Sorry about the recent lack of blog, dear reader. Simon and I have started working on the Apple account and this has taken up all my brain-space. Even though we’re both consumers of the brand, it’s an interesting challenge to get under the skin of what’s right for it creatively.

Apple’s creative philosophy, as articulated all over the walls at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, is ‘simplify,, simplify, simplify’. Now this, as I’m discovering, effectively summarises the challenge of picking up this revered brand in a number of ways.

It seems that Apple advertising is easy (sexy product shot and a clever line), there’s a lot of nuance within that and it’s bloody hard to get simplicity right.

As a copywriter, you’re often asked to cover off all possible marketing messages in a line. It’s a real skill to get straight to the heart of the proposition in a minimum number of words. I remember James Hilton, a Creative director at AKQA, telling me that writing copy for Nike was a matter of starting with a statement, halving the number of words, then halving it again. It’s similar with Apple. Typically it’s boiling down what’s brilliant about a product in 4 playful words or less. And those playful words must translate into 19 languages.

It’s a tough one for an art director too. Doing something fresh within a very tight visual framework is incredibly challenging. We know that a lot of the ideas we’re coming up with are wrong, but we’re following them through to their logical conclusion to figure out why and identify the bits that are right. It’s an iterative process and I feel that I’m sharpening my creative skills as I go.

After a few weeks on the brand, we hope that we’re feeling our way towards the essence of Apple in our work. I’m beginning to think that after a few hundred concepts we’ll enter a zen state where we’re getting it right with less of a struggle. I’ll keep you posted…


Steve said...

My brain is stewing itself just thinking about the immensely reductive process that you are going through - it sounds very akin to writing poetry: expressing the most emotion and conceptualizations within the smallest amount of words. And make it sound attractive. Damned hard.

Tristan said...

Yes, it's painful, but good for me - a bit like the first few visits to the gym after a long break!

Brother Tobias said...

The poetry analogy struck me too - except that you have to stir a very proscribed set of intellectual/emotional responses; no room for differing cultural or personal interpretation.

Might pay better than poetry though...?

Tristan said...

Hah, I wouldn't so poncey as to compare what I do to poetry - and as for the pay - now that would be telling.

mjh said...

You working on the new MacBook Wheel? :) http://www.theonion.com/content/video/apple_introduces_revolutionary