Ken Segall speaks on the simplicity of Apple at AAF April Meeting

Darian Graivshark
Ken Segall's two books, Insanely Simple: The Obsession the Drives Apple's Success and Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity.

Behind-the-scenes stories from Apple were shared by Ken Segall on April 5 during the American Advertising Federation meeting.

Segall notes that simplicity is the most powerful force in a business, and that it is also something any person or company can put to work today.

Segall previously created ads for Steve Jobs while working at Apple, all of which were exciting, intense, scary, empowering, and fun. He witnessed firsthand how the love of simplicity can create a better product, customers that became fanatics, and fulfilled employees.

"For twelve years I worked with Steve Jobs. As the advertising guy, I really got to know the culture of many different companies. I'd speak to them about the power of simplicity, and how we've seen great things come from it," Segall said.

To start off the presentation, Segall asked the members what they thought Apple's official name for the iPhone might have been out of a list of five. These were Mobi, TriPod, iTalk, TelePod, and iPad. Ironically, the name iPad was thought of even before the iPad was actually thought of. They had originally thought, though, that the iPhone's official name was going to be iTalk.

They weren't sure if they could actually use the word iPhone, because the Sysco company was using that phrase for one of their products.

"Ultimately, I was responsible for the lowercase 'i.' I presented it to Steve many times, and he rejected it many times. Until, finally, he put it on a product and got positive feedback from the people he would show it to. The 'i' is a way of speaking Humanese. A lowercase 'i' makes something a consumer thing," Segall said.

Speaking Humanese is one of the eight steps in talking about the perception of simplicity. A few others include authenticity being simpler, the dark side of choices, simplicity builds love, do fewer things better, and truth is clarity.

"One of my favorite quotes about doing fewer things better is, 'Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.' For example, Dell has 26 computer models, HP has 41, while Apple only has 3. Having fewer models creates a lack of confusion," Segall said.

One example of simplicity being more attractive for companies is when Ted Chung of Hyundai Card South Korea was hired on, and thus simplified the culture of the company. Segall shared that Chung was able to create a $1 billion dollar increase of profit versus a regularly $2 billion dollar decrease.

"The bottom line is that being simple isn't simple. Steve would say, 'You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple,' and he truly relayed that in much of his work with Apple," Segall said.

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