Apple A Day Helps Your Brain Cells To Play

Eating Liberally Food For Thought
by Kerry Trueman

Yes, there’s gloating galore in our Mac-happy household over the news that “even the briefest exposure to the Apple logo may make you behave more creatively,” according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. No wonder we are just bursting with ideas that our cramped Manhattan apartment can barely contain; we’ve got more Macs per capita than you’ll find anywhere outside of an Apple store. (My Mac consultant husband) Matt would put one in the bathroom if I let him, which I won’t, because that’s my one tech-free haven in our hyper-wired world.

The study, conducted by researchers at Duke University and the University of Waterloo, Canada, found that even a split-second glimpse of the iconic Apple logo is enough to inspire folks to “think different”:

The team conducted an experiment in which 341 university students completed what they believed was a visual acuity task, during which either the Apple or IBM logo was flashed so quickly that they were unaware they had been exposed to the brand logo. The participants then completed a task designed to evaluate how creative they were, listing all of the uses for a brick that they could imagine beyond building a wall.

People who were exposed to the Apple logo generated significantly more unusual uses for the brick compared with those who were primed with the IBM logo, the researchers said. In addition, the unusual uses the Apple-primed participants generated were rated as more creative by independent judges.

As Duke professor Tanya Chartrand noted, “Apple has worked for many years to develop a brand character associated with nonconformity, innovation and creativity.” IBM’s logo, on the other hand, conveys an image to consumers that is “traditional, smart and responsible,” i.e., safe and dull.

Apples have a long tradition of tempting mankind to flout convention—just ask Adam and Eve. And don’t forget Johnny Appleseed, who was running around literally sowing the seeds of the conservation movement a couple hundred years ago, before voluntary simplicity and animal rights were even trendy.

The Beatles beat Steve Jobs by a few years, too, leading to a branding battle between Apple Corp. and Apple Inc., which rocked our collective world with their revolutionary music and machines, respectively.

That lawsuit was settled last year, but now Apple’s gone and picked another fight, this time with the Big Apple, which unveiled a new apple logo for its GreeNYC campaign to inspire New Yorkers “to walk, bike and unplug appliances when not in use,” as the New York Times reports.

Apple is reportedly concerned that the supposed similarity between the two logos could create “consumer confusion resulting in damage and injury.” But as the Times notes, the two apples are decidedly distinctive varieties. Yeah, they’re both apples, but New York City’s hasn’t had a bite taken out of it, and it’s green, whereas Apple’s trademark logo has evolved from its hippy-dippy rainbow phase into the more minimalist black/white spectrum.

Steve Jobs is reportedly worried that GreeNYC’s logo is going to lead to “dilution of the distinctiveness” of the Apple brand. Will people really confuse the two logos? I doubt it, but I’d be happy if they did; after all, if just flashing folks with an image of an apple is enough to encourage our brains to be more receptive to new ideas, it can only boost GreeNYC’s prospects for encouraging conservation. It seems only fair that the fruit that got us evicted from Eden in the first place should help us find our way back.