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Simplicity Is NOT That Simple
By: Ron Romanik
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Ken Segall is the exceptionally creative advertising and branding mind behind both Apple’s “Think Different” campaign and the name “iMac” itself. A Fast Company article and a book (Insanely Simple) recount anecdotes about how Steve Jobs’ obsessions drove the company’s success. So it’s ironic that his analysis of Apple’s devotion to simplicity as a religion is somewhat simplistic.

Segall posits that if simplicity is the goal, complexity is the enemy. This is true only to a degree. To achieve simplicity, one doesn’t fight against complexity, but instead works through complexity to find the most elegant solution.
The iMac-naming story is poignant and revealing, and illustrates some tenets of brand naming that are universal. The extendability of the “i” form in Apple products is undeniable, and the distillation of many timely forces into such a short name is an achievement.

Maybe Segall doesn’t even realize his own power and the ability of brand names to morph words into different parts of speech. As Google became a verb, “Think Different” changed an adjective into an adverb, and iMac changed a nominative pronoun into a possessive pronoun. This may be an overstatement, but the goal of the “i” standing for Internet or individual has come to reflect a much more personal relationship between user and technology that Apple does better than any company in history.

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About the Author
Ron Romanik is principal of Romanik Communications, a brand consultancy outside Philadelphia founded with a mantra of “Authentic Stories. Resonant Tones. Sustainable Brands.”
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