Burton Snowboards, the Anti-Apple

One of the most disturbing aspects of design trends over the last decade or two is the cult of Apple, and the various sound bytes that they use to be able to convert people into their design aesthetic => my specific issue is with this hyperbolic “minimalism” mantra that they have been spoon feeding Americans for the better part of 20 years now.

Now its important to note I am not against “minimalism”, “simplification”, “usability”, or any of the other things that Apple likes to focus on with their products and marketing. In fact, I actually see them as very important design aesthetics and mantras. What I am against is the notion that minimalism is the sole design aesthetic, and that it is somehow the greater good thus a reason to build a dogma around it.

Minimalism should be in context. Where would we be without Picasso’s cubism or Cézanne beautiful use of color or Van Gogh’s deep detail that required careful consideration. It was only later in Pop-Art and Minimalism movements that we felt the need to reduce twice over as an “antithesis” for many of the busy and colorful artistic movements from before.

Thankfully, when I was reading Purple Cow it Came to me that one of my all time favorite companies, Burton Snowboards is actually an exact opposite to Apple inc. Here are some examples:

Major Features of Apple:

  • Minimalism
  • Plain high contrast colors
  • “easy to use”
  • User friendly
  • Design over Technology ( consistently a technology laggard technically by specifications)
  • Very few products
  • Larger than life CEO

Major Features of Burton:

  • Active Designs
  • Products that are harder to use => Snowboarding over skiing
  • Extremely colorful
  • Technology leads to design
  • Many products and varying features to each product line
  • CEO that prefers to be out snowboarding

Burton’s approach is pretty much the exact opposite to Apple but their brand and products are every bit as strong as Apples (they just function in a smaller marketplace). For Example, Burton is aggressive about creating the best technology where as Apple traditionally sells technology that is 20% slower, less powerful, and smaller in capacity than the existing marketplace. Burton is very “active” with their designs and they consistently out design their competition (competition that focuses on Minimalism). Additionally, they have tons of products- yes they primarily sell snowboards but you have many choices within the Burton environment.

I think there is a lot to what Burton is doing that other Companies could learn from, and I would urge people to consider their design Aesthetic in context.

Apple is great, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones that can get it right.

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