Most Powerful Lessons in Branding_The Case of Apple

Most Powerful Lessons in Branding: The Case of Apple

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“Think different” – the drive to Apple’s innovative approach to their products and a promise to their customers. Today it is the most valuable brand today and has held this title consistently since 2013.

Apple’s product designs are like no other given how well the brand has evolved. On top of this, it still remained consistent over the years, it’s an interesting one to look at.

There are many lessons to pick from Apple’s branding, some of which they have borrowed from Nike. To compare, Nike focuses on the athlete, their experience, and athleticism. Surprisingly, unlike many companies, the focus is not on the product.

It is what in marketing is called the job to be done, a concept developed by a Harvard law professor, Prof. Christiansen.

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How Apple Became The Most Valuable Brand

From the early day’s Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple adopted the motor “think different” to signify their innovative approach to the brand. They rebranded in 1997 as “think different”, this they referred to as putting a dent in the universe.

Building Brand Equity

Since 2010, Apple has seen annual growth of 36%. From ranking number 17 in the world in 2010, Apple has gone on to claim the number spot of most valuable brands in only 3 years.

Their focus is on the customer, they added extensions to their brand, and each extension means they are taking down giants in that niche.

The iPhone took down some of the untouchable brands, Nokia, and Blackberry. Additionally, Microsoft felt the pinch, and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, became an investor in Apple. There the old saying goes that if you can’t beat them, join them.

Apple’s focus is not only on mobile and computing. In 2017, Apple surpassed Rolex to be the No. 1 watch brand in the world.

Apple’s Transformation

Apple’s impact on industries does not go unnoticed. Apple has made meaningful transformations several times. The introduction of the child-like simple computer meant it became the better choice in the computer industry.

To the music industry, Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes, which made a huge impact on the industry. This changed how people listened to music. Apple will later see a shift from computers being the highest contributor to revenue to iPhones being the biggest contributors.

Brand Culture

Apple takes its brand culture seriously. The brand culture is a part of the customer experience in Apple stores. The brand teaches you and shows you what life is like with Apple devices – it’s beautiful.

This is why people always queue for the new iPhone release. Apple has created a community among its users, this is where the real power of the brand lies.

Apple’s Approach to Branding.

Have a clearly defined purpose

According to Steve Jobs, Apple had to be like Nike. Apple had to be really clear about what they wanted their customers to know about them. The purpose is the core of the brand essence, the reason your brand exists besides making a profit.

The Apple brand has been consistent, keeping its core attributes of being progressive, innovative, and intelligent throughout.

They do this by always bringing the best tools to the market. Because Apple has clearly defined their purpose, they have now built an emotional connection with their audience.

The brand first, profit later.

Putting profit first often leads to negligence of what matters most to a brand – customers. When you neglect your strategy, you will lack direction. Apple fired their store head for prioritizing profits by cutting customer service hours.

This shows how important customer success is to any brand, any persona who threatens that should not be working for your brand.

To succeed in your brand strategy, you have to have faith and be patient. This will help you easily adapt your strategy across all departments in your business.

Don’t just speak your brand, live it.

By understanding that people build perception by what they see, apple’s brand execution has been clearly defined.

By following the principle that “people do judge a book by its covers” (Mike Markkula), apple pays attention to detail on everything they build.

When customers complained that their hardware was not good enough, Apple invested in building the best hardware for their products.

Tim cook once said they (the apple team) are a “group of people who are trying to change the world for the better”.

Everything you do in your brand should be rooted in your purpose as a business.

Remember, a brand is lived through people in your company.

Your brand should inspire product.

The way Apple has been branded gives consumers an aspirational target. Because of these, consumers share a brand essence to achieve their personal goals. This is why Apple products are created to form a community of people driven by purpose.

Apple has features like The Shot that transform the Apple camera to help the Apple community express their individuality.

The creatives get to follow through with their creative passion using Apple products. As the apple saying goes, think different.

The Apple Personality

Apple’s brand personality has remained consistent over the past 10 years. This has in a way helped its customers resonate with it even more.

Here are the top 5 emotional attributes apple has portrayed:

  • 2007: Progressive – Innovative – Visionary – Intelligent – Up to date
  • 2017: Progressive – Up to date – innovative – worth more – Intelligent
  • The visionary has seen a move to No. 6 in 2017 with worth more coming into the top 10.

Key Lessons From The Apple Brand.

Today, data drives marketing. Apple’s way of marketing comes from the brand being human in both understanding its audience and crafting a great brand experience from it.

Your brand should be empathetic. When you are empathetic to your audience, you can make an emotional connection with them.

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Simplify everything

What makes Apple great today is how simple they communicate with their customers in marketing and in product use. This is what makes the brand experience the same throughout. Even their apple stores use just 3 materials, steel wood, and glass.

Set the tone

Be bold in what you do. In branding, it’s always beneficial to be proactive than reactive.

Make meaningful human connections

Every Apple device has a human purpose attached to it. Apple’s Snr VP of Retail said “The goal is to help foster human experiences that draw people out of their digital bubbles”

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Nonofo Joel
Nonofo Joel

Nonofo Joel is the CEO of The Brand Shop, leading with innovative branding strategies and a passion for growth. A passionate volunteer on the Lehikeng Board, he's committed to advancing human capital development across Africa.