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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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Unplugged: The Evolution of Branding Electronics
Communication
devices over the years
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observation that young people enjoyed playing
music all day long; the idea that they would carry
their music around with them—if given the oppor-
tunity—proved extraordinarily prescient.
One thing that Apple did better, besides the ingen-
ious move to brand its music player with the
now ubiquitous white headphones—and thus the
culture that went along with them—was to explic-
itly tap into the desire for control, the yang of
size’s yin. The act of bestowing the consumer with
power has often been electronics brandsunderly-
ing promise. Video game companies, for instance,
were going bankrupt in droves during the early
’80s until Nintendo lled the void with a memo-
rable tagline that alluded to its gaming experi-
ence: “Now you’re playing with power.” Even more
important, the new video game system turned the
industry away from joystick controllers to pad-
centric versions: a collection of small, smooth
on a nightstand, with a light added to the rotary
dial that served as both a nightlight and a visual
aid for late-night phone calls. Nearly fty years
later, the iPod, with its sublime operating system
and so-easy-a-baby-can-manage-it navigation,
made its pitch by promising 10,000 songs in your
pocket—all on that exquisitely designed, slim piece
of electronics. And the iPad continues that trend:
The technology—on a device so thin (and getting
thinner with each new version) that its practi-
cally invisible—is a sorcerer’s tablet, allowing its
premium-paying users to access experiences that
have, until now, been unavailable.

But when it comes to “branded by size,” noth-
ing changed the game quite like the Sony Walk-
man, the rst portable stereo cassette player.
Introduced in 1979 (and discontinued in 2010),
the Walkman became such a massive hit that
cassettes outsold vinyl records by 1983. Sony
founder Akio Morita gave one of the rst copies
to Steve Jobs, then in his rst go-round lead-
ing Apple, setting the stage for the iPod revolu-
tion more than twenty years down the road. That
rst Walkman was chunky by todays standards:
Weighing in at 14 ounces (397 g), it contained
three basic functions: play, stop, and fast forward
(rewinding required the user to ip the tape over
and fast forward). Morita had long established
the Sony brand as the company at the forefront
of the electronics revolution and its miniaturiza-
tions: One year after the invention of the tran-
sistor, Sony introduced the transistor radio, the
rst pocket-sized radio of its kind; later in its
history, it debuted an 8-inch (20.3 cm) television.
And the Walkman was the product of the simple
When it comes to “branded by size,
nothing changed the game quite like
the Sony Walkman.
The humble
cassette tape
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