Why It’s Always 9:41 on an iPhone

January, 2007 and Steve Jobs is taking the stage. It is precisely 9:00 AM in San Francisco. As planned, rehearsed and carefully staged it is 40 minutes later when Apple’s famous CEO states, “One more thing. This is a day I have been looking forward to for two and a half years. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” Jobs announces, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” The giant screen behind him flashes an image of the first iPhone. It was 9:42 a.m.

And thus it was 9:42 on every image of an iPhone in every Apple ad… until 3 years later when the iPad launced. Scott Forestall of Apple explains, “When the big image of the product appears on screen, we want the time shown to be close to the actual time on the audience’s watches. But we know we won’t hit 40 minutes exactly…. so for the iPad, we made it 41 minutes.”

All new iPad and iPhone ads exhibit 9:41 on the screen.

This is not simply a fun anecdote for Apple groupies and students of trivia. It is an example of a culture of precision and the acolytes who practice and worship such discipline.

Here’s another: Shortly after the California gold rush of 1849, A Bavarian dry-goods salesman meets a tailor from Reno, Nevada adding brass rivets to blue denim work pants. The blue jeans were so strong that two horses could not tear them apart. This origin story for Levi’s creates the ethos of quality, the legacy of construction details and heritage of San Francisco that are integral for the brand today. The brass rivets and two horse logo are part of Levi’s brand marketing, packaging and legacy.

Do you have a corporate culture that uses great stories to reinforce core values to employees and customers alike? If so, please share. If not… get to it.

© David J. Katz, New York City - November 20, 2014

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