Man & his Symbols: Steve Jobs and the $100,000 logo
Tags: business apple
November 15th, 2022

NeXT computers famously spent $100,000 on a logo before they even had a product to ship. It's usually regarded as Steve Jobsian excess. However, I don't think this is as stupid as it sounds.

People feel symbols far more vividly than they feel written words. Consider that Jobs was a Zen Buddhist. [0] Tibetan Buddhists make a big deal on the difference between knowing something skin deep versus soul deep. It's the rational behind meditating. [1] It's why the phrases are simple but encapsulate greater meaning when you meditate on them for a while. It's why monks shake their head when one makes knee jerk reactions to the specific words chanted. Such people are often missing the point.

Symbols are even deeper than that. For instance, you often more react viscerally to a film than you do to a synopsis of it. The same can be said of a painting. It can be difficult to describe verbally why something moves you because you just sort of know it deep down.

Logos, even corporate ones, are just symbols and extension of this. You react viscerally to them. Having a good symbol that you can unite behind and imbue with meaning is worth something. Perhaps this doesn't happen at first, but with care, passion, and time it can.

Was $100,000 too much? Maybe not as bad for a man who was, even back then, worth hundreds of millions. But what do I know. Don't knock every idea even if it sounds crazy.


[0]: Some might say a nominal one. It is notable he was married in a Zen Buddhist ceremony though.

[1]: For many this may not be a 100% true statement. This is my take on specifically Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices. I can't comment on the other veins of Buddhism. My exact phrasing may not be the ones used by practitioners or academics. C'est la vie.