"Our customers want to know who is Apple and what is it that we stand for – where do we fit in this world.
…and what we are about isn't making boxes for people to get their jobs done – although we do that well, better than anybody in some cases.
But Apple is about something more than that. Apple at the core – its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better."
The words above were used in a speech given by Steve Jobs to his employees after his 1997 return to Apple.
Mr. Jobs' carefully selected words suggest he wasn't trying to reinvent Apple, he was simply pushing it back to its core. And the history demonstrates how Apple forever changed the way people communicate, entertain themselves, even the way they absorb information. The application of Steve Jobs belief moved Apple from $3 billion at the start of 1997 to $350 billion by 2011.
I suspect that our industry is going through the same confusion, as Apple was during 1985 to 1997 (the period Apple spent without Steve Jobs and the beliefs he practised).
We have lost our sense of direction and suffering from identity crisis.
We are increasingly trying to be everyone and everything and not who we are.
We frequently use the words engagement, experience, programmatic, agile, data, community, crowdsourcing, shopper, interactive, reactive, proactive when explaining the business we are in.
We tend to use every 'cool-new' word in order to differentiate ourselves from the business next door – except the one that brought us into the business: Creativity.
We have limited the core of our industry to a piece of paper and a department. We have redefined creativity from something that we do to something we can also do.
Naturally trying to be someone you are not has its own consequences – like unable to be good at anything.
No wonder why only 4% of the advertising in the UK is remembered positively, 7% negatively and 89% not remembered at all.
That is around £17 billion advertising money wasted in the UK alone (every year).
One of the most difficult studies in life is the study of self.
Finding your own strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding what you can and can't do.
Accepting who you are and who you are not.
It's through the study of self we achieve the ultimate joy, confidence and success.
We stop trying to be someone everyone wants us to be.
We start focusing on doing what we are meant to, and not what everyone else wants us to do.
I positively support technology, data and all what the digital age has to offer.
However, I humbly stand against embracing the new by sacrificing our core.
We may have mastered the path to purchase, cracked the algorithms to serve more targeted ads, built the formulas to manipulate consumer data, championed the tactics to create and serve reactive content.
Nevertheless, without the magic of creativity, all our intelligence is as useless as the most perfect body in the world, but without a soul.
Creativity is the soul of our industry.
Its absence sparks ignorance, dullness, foolishness and death.
I feel there's still time for us to accept that our existence lies in one and one thing only: Creativity.
Instead of asking how the digital age can help brands, we should be asking how creativity can help digital age to build better brands.
Instead of controlling and programming data, I would suggest we explore creative ways to grow data universe in the favour of brands.
And instead of marketing next generation technology solutions, I would propose we apply creativity to fuel technology that drives growth for brands.
Though, I wonder.
Will the sharp new scientific brains of our industry ever allow us to truly embrace our most valuable asset?
Will we ever genuinely take a pride (again) in running and working for creative businesses?
Will we ever be able to let go of individual brilliance for collective creative excellence?
As for sure and without any doubts, ultimately, creativity is our place in the world.
This is our core.
This is where we fit in.