The success of Apple, the Cupertino-based high tech company, is as much about cutting edge technology as it is about the intelligence use of branding strategies. Here are some of the elements of Apple’s branding strategy.
Customer Focus: Most, if not all, successful brands focus on customer needs and meet these needs in a way that causes customer delight. Apple’s customer focus is legendary. Apple’s training manual had the following instructions for its sales staff:
- Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome
- Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
- Present a solution for the customer to take home today
- Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
- End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Emotional connect: Successful brands are those that establish an emotional connect with customers. According to Marc Gobe in “Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People,” – “A brand needs human qualities and emotional values – it needs to have a personality.” Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was able to bestow human qualities to the Apple brand and convinced customers to form a partnership with the brand. The Apple-mania that we see today is the result of this carefully crafted branding strategy.
Advertising: An important way to build brand personality is through communication. Apple’s advertising has been instrumental in making Apple the iconic brand that it has become. In 1984, Apple created a commercial for the Macintosh that is now regarded as a watershed event in the history of the brand. The commercial, directed by Ridley Scott and aired during the Super Bowl, initially established the brand’s personality as ‘free-thinking’ and ‘non-conformist.’
In later years, Apple’s advertisements established “traits” such as ‘creative’ (for example the “Think Different” campaign in late 1990s) and “intelligent” (for example, the “Get a Mac” campaign that told viewers why Macs were better than PCs).
Today, Apple’s advertisements try to highlight qualities such as “hip and cool” (for instance, the iPod silhouette ads) “obsessed with perfection,” and “minimalism.” For example, the 2011 ad for the iPhone – “If you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone” conveyed the simple message that the iPhone was irresistible using visuals that were clutter-free and minimalist.
Logo: Initially Apple was marketed as “Apple Computer Co.,” with the imagery of Newton sitting under an apple tree. In 1976, this complex logo was replaced with a simpler but more colorful rainbow “bitten” apple logo. In 1998, the colors were sacrificed in favor of the monochrome logo that we now see on millions of iPods and iPhones. The current logo reflects the minimalist design philosophy that Apple has made its own.
These elements of Apple’s branding strategy are integrally connected to every facet of Apple’s marketing strategy. So, Apple’s “significant” stores and distribution channels, its packaging, etc., reflect its personality as much its commercials.