How did Apple become the most valuable brand in the world? By having some of the smartest marketing in the world.
Year after year, Apple have displayed a brand control and marketing foresight which is simply unparallelled – excelling not only in the technology market, but also teaching the biggest designer brands how it should be done.
There is no simple formula to building a brand like Apple. However there are some key lessons which can help any business invite success and add value to their brand. Here are 5 of the most important.
When new opportunities arise, most businesses jump in first and ask questions later. Apple take a more considered approach. Their golden rule to introducing new products is this – only make a product if you can make it better. There are many instances where Apple could have entered a new market with a mediocre product and made a quick profit, but they have resisted. Instead they lead the market with every product in the portfolio.
This approach may mean that they are losing ground to Android, but Apple are not about market share. If they were, then they would simply drop the price-tag and take a big chunk back. Apple are about long term profit and this means staying premium.
You only need to look at the marketing partnerships Apple has forged – None. While Microsoft has partnered with everyone from Nokia to Intel and Google’s latest OS KitKat is sponsored by a chocolate bar, Apple have built a moat around the brand. Vehemently defending themselves against any company which may water-down the name or identity.
They may have passed up profit opportunities on the way, but the result is a leading brand built to last.
Adopt The Language Of Your Audience.
In their marketing, Apple have never spoken like a technology company. Speed and technical comparison always takes a backseat to how the product will change your life.
Simply choosing the right language has made complex and innovative technology accessible to the majority – those people who care nothing about the bits inside. Take Touch ID – despite the technological complexity of the feature, the advert says it simply ‘Your finger is the password’. Instantly the audience understands the benefit.
Talking the audiences’ language has allowed Apple to break the traditional confines of the technology market and become a broader luxury brand. Unlike other manufacturers, early adopters of Apple products are not generally ‘tech-heads’, but are those who will pay a premium for the benefit of new features.
Create A Buzz
Apple products are always surrounded by buzz. A discussion and conjecture which keeps the brand on the tip of the tongue and in the press even when there is little to report.
In today’s media-savvy world, most brands try to keep the press one-step ahead of developments with a drip feed of PR. Rarely does any new product strike the market out of the blue. Instead the ground has been prepared, and the big new release hardly makes an impact.
Apple only aim to make headlines, so when it comes to product launches media outlets are as in-the-dark as the public. This secrecy is a powerful marketing weapon. By building up anticipation to a release of news, the hype becomes almost feverpitch. Add into the mix rumours of product scarcity and Apple create a strong preorder as well as the big overnight queues which further fuels brand desirability.
Control The Sales Experience
We always think of Apple’s greatness in terms of products, but don’t underestimate how important the Apple Store has been to brand perception.
The Apple Store has given Apple complete control over the brand presentation and the relationship with the customers. Other companies had always concentrated on shifting units and therefore sacrificed brand control to get their product on as many shop shelves as possible.
Apple decided that their physical selling space should not be about shifting units, but about creating brand experience – providing customers with the space and freedom to try out and bond with the product. The result is a store which builds brand and shifts units.
The staff selling Apple products are curators for the brand, providing reliable information and offering to support the product throughout its lifetime. They are selling an expensive product, but for those with the money the Apple Store adds value and reassurance well beyond this price difference.
Don’t Be Afraid To Go Your Own Way
The idea of ‘being different’ has always been central to Apple. Even today, when they shift millions of products worldwide – Apple are still considered an alternative choice to mainstream brands like Google and Microsoft.
Apple work hard to define their brand not just by what it is, but also by what it is not. They are a company that refuses to follow along with the pack. Back when Microsoft were the market giant, Apple were brave enough to satirise them in the ‘I’m a Mac / I’m a PC’ adverts. This simple concept did so much to define Apple’s brand, and undermine Microsoft’s.
Always going your own way has risks – think of the Apple Maps disaster – but rarely has an Apple enthusiast wished the company was more like anyone else. Instead by striking out in their own direction, Apple regularly forces the competition into two options – follow along behind or risk losing out.