Apple’s second-generation iPhone 3G is set to hit the market Friday to the by now customary camping lines and fanfare, and, more importantly, high sales expectations.

And while it’s fun to partake in all of the speculation and hand-wringing over specific features (iPhone App store, enterprise IT compatibility, battery-life), the truly important underlying dynamics can often get lost in the fray.

One such factor: The ingenious marketing employed by Steve Jobs and Co.

And it’s here that "The Magician", or more specifically, "The Magician" archetype comes into play:

As I first heard this pointed out by Rich Schefren and Jay Abraham in one of their "Maven Marketing" teleconference calls from earlier this year:

Steve Job’s is perfectly, and, we must assume, somewhat deliberately positioned as a "Wizard of Oz"-like character in the consumer electronics space, the magician who disappears behind the curtains and reappears with new, ever-more-amazing wonders of technology.

While I had studied archetype branding myself for a while, I must admit that I had never heard the Steve Jobs/Magician analogy used up to that point. And when the unveiling of the new iPhone 3G occurred June 9, Rich and Jay’s brief remark snapped right back into focus for me.

Here he was, Steve Jobs, "The Magician" on the stage of the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference).

Mind you there is a vast amount of orchestration going into this feat. From Apple design philosophies (their "clean" design could be seen to evoke "grail"-like associations!), to purposefully withholding detailed product information until the timed announcements at Mac conferences, to Steve’s own stage-craft in triumphantly unveiling the new gadget of the day.

Everything has to be just right to fully support the archetype. But in doing so, whether consciously or unconsciously, Apple and Steve Jobs are occupying a very valuable space in the minds of a fickle public. And "The Magician" image serves both an extremely useful guide-post (does this next action fit our archetype branding?), as well as a uniquely powerful marketing device in this respect.

It is a brand quite literally burnt deep into the neural networks of consumers world-wide, in a way that even the valuable Apple brand never will be:

Nothing sticks better in the mind than these largely unconscious, archetypal patterns, the original building-blocks of the human mind. At that level, you don’t have to explain very much at all. It’s simply understood, and universally so (archetypes hold true across all cultural contexts).

Many marketers and small business owners ignore this fact each and every day at their own peril, "leaving" the proverbial "piles of money on the table."

Photo: MacRumors

64 thoughts on “What the iPhone and Steve Jobs have to do with “The Magician”

  1. I’m reminded of this recent adage post…

    ** link **

    Specifically…

    “The hallmark of any great brand is authenticity — just ask Harley-Davidson, Coke or Apple, especially when all of these brands lost their way and learned from it. Same thing applies to Brand You. In every tweak or a template, upload and keystroke, you have an opportunity to be authentic or disingenuous. Know what makes you special and unique, and tap into those qualities as you build your personal brand online. Most people can spot a fake when they see one, so remember that being genuine is more important that presenting yourself in an artificially glossy manner.”

    While I can relate to the Jobs-Magician connection, Apple’s exemplary product design is what makes Jobs’ performance “work,” imho.

    What’s the archetype label for someone who takes a simple tool, complicates it and tries to pass it off as some sort of gift he’s bestowing on his ever-so-fortunate followers? I’m referring to Schefren’s recent “Reputation Monitor” post, btw, in case that’s unclear. It’s a fine line between posturing and lying, I think.

  2. Alex, great blog post! Wow, solid analysis. Reminds me of a great book The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson over here => ** link ** .

    Thank you Alex. I totally digg your coverage of the mind of a magician and the power of that mind at marketing and why it all works. THANK YOU!

  3. In reply to @Ben Mack:
    Thanks Ben, that means a lot coming from you, one of the undisputed experts in the field.

    Haven’t read the Mark/Pearson book yet, but have read the Kent Wertime one. You? I’ll get the one you recommended on my next Amazon “harvest”… :)

  4. Hi Alex. Great post. The branding thing is what magazine publishers are trying to get their minds around. And for the transition to the internet, there are plenty of people out there who will proclaim that branding is dead. But as you and Steve Jobs are here to eloquently show us, it is most certainly not.

  5. Brand is not dead.
    What I think is dead is BS, like trying to say something is more than it is, or not as bad as it is.

    Brand is in the eye of the beholder; the market has the final say in what a company or product’s brand is.
    Brand equity is a good way of looking at it. Financial equity is real, but is subject to the market’s attitude.

  6. Brand is not dead.
    What I think is dead is BS, like trying to say something is more than it is, or not as bad as it is.

    Brand is in the eye of the beholder; the market has the final say in what a company or product's brand is.
    Brand equity is a good way of looking at it. Financial equity is real, but is subject to the market's attitude.

Comments are closed.