You know, it never ceases to amaze me. At all.
We are all fairly acquainted with the marvel and genius that is Steve Jobs. He is this thing we call a visionary. Tech guru, leader and symbol of the Apple brand, this man has changed that way we look at technology today. But far from the "tech talk"- you know, microchip, motherboard, potato, potatoh...I like to see this through the eyes of a thing called marketing. For one very specific reason... I am simply blown away by it.
I love Apple's history. I am fascinated by the fact that not so long ago, the brand was practically a goner, and in less than a decade, a multi-billion dollar company. From chaos to branding bliss. "People talk about technology, but Apple was a marketing company," said John Sculley, marketing executive to the brand, for the Guardian newspaper in 1997.
In my opinion, some of the key ingredients to the success of the brand have been:
- Redefining its focus and creating a new positioning. In a PC dominated world, Apple understood that attempting to compete with Microsoft's mainstream existence was out of their league at that time. They were undoubtedly the leaders of this market segment. Instead, they focused on developing another category, creating a solid bond with clients and going from there. This is a clear example of Ries and Trout's famous law- "The Law of the Category". "If you can't be first in a category, change the nature of the category or set up a new category you can be the first in." (Ries, Trout. "22 immutable laws of Marketing". 1994)
- Breaking away from the “man in the suit” stereotype. Let’s face it: some people feel intimidated by technology. PC symbolizes the man with a suit and tie…stiff, outdated and monochromatic. The “Hi, I’m a Mac” campaign was absolutely brilliant in making Microsoft seem as a dull and complicated option, whereas Mac symbolized the easy, fresh and user-friendly option for your technological needs. Associating the brand with a friendly face is another way of creating the emotional bond people have come to love. In case you missed it, here's a compilation of the ads:
- From every industrial design, to operating systems, to marketing- coherence on every level. Apple symbolizes sleek, modern designs and applies it to every single aspect of the brand.
- The sound of music and something called the start-up chime.
- Differentiating the brand and making sure people notice it. Take the iPod.What’s the difference between a regular MP3 player and an iPod? White headphones. On a bus, on a train, you can spot one a mile away.
- Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. One should never underestimate the power of a face. In this case an asset for the brand. Steve Jobs represents a company, but also the constant force that drives Apple. Its desire for innovation, creativity and cutting-edge quality that accompanies every single product that we see in stores with the Apple logo. When we buy a Mac product we buy a piece of Steve Jobs. His absence and subsequent return to the company did nothing but further instigate his status of a genius- and not to mention the creation of Pixar, a jewel of animation. He is the essence of Apple personified. Trust, admiration and love. That’s what Jobs transmits. And so does Apple.
- The reputation of being the ground breaker and trendsetter. In 1984 they altered the definition of a Personal Computer when they introduced the first comercially successful GUI (Graphical User Interface) . In 1995 they invented the first laptop. In 2001 they changed the way we listened to music. In 2003 they created they provided the current largest online store for movies and music. In 2008 they reinvented the smartphone with a thing called “multi-touch”. In 2010 they created the ultimate tablet computer. In essence: They never stop re-inventing the wheel.
- An excellent product portfolio mix. Through the years, Apple has achieved an excellent product portfolio satisfying the needs of the most expectant. iPod as the cash cow through turnover, laptops for profit margins…It’s all thought out.
- The little engine that could. People like comeback stories. They like to read about the ugly duckling that turned into the swan. The new hero. Underdog one day and prince the other. That's exactly what Apple stands for.
- Development of the Operating System as a product in itself. Hardware and software go hand in hand, instead of PCs- in which you dedicate effort in the purchase of hardware- choosing between an endless number of manufacturers- and software. Apple simbolizes simplicity- ease of purchase. You can get both computer and programs under one roof.
It has been the creation and development of the brand, the key ingredient to the success of the company. As marketer Marc Gobe puts it, "Apple is about imagination, design and innovation, it goes beyond commerce."
I leave you with Apple's latest ad, promoting the iPhone 4. A masterpiece. Let's see what they come up with next.