by Evan Whittaker
In today’s professional world, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t recognize the logo of technology industry giant, Apple. In addition to how strong the company’s brand identity is, consumer perceptions of it are overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by its current standing as number five on the Fortune 500 list for 2014. Those perceptions are so strong and positive, in fact, that people wait in line for days to receive the company’s newest products while knowing virtually nothing about them.
So, how has Apple managed to amass such a loyal audience and create a powerful brand identity? The answer can be found in the company’s consistent design principles and genius marketing techniques. Let’s take a look at a few of the elements that contribute to Apple’s success.
Improvement, not innovation
You might be surprised to learn that smartphones, portable music players and tablet computers all existed before Apple made its foray into these markets. Many find this surprising since Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad have dominated these respective markets since their releases. If Apple wasn’t the first to introduce these products, why have its versions become the most popular? The answer is the company’s focus on improving and refining existing products to entice consumers.
These refinements take various forms: reduced device size for increased portability, simplified operating systems and construction using premium materials. While these may seem like trivial changes, the results are anything but. Consumers would pick up a rival product, then compare it to Apple’s thinner, lighter and more attractive version. Given that, is it any surprise that many would lean toward the latter? There is certainly something to be said for Apple’s focus on improved aesthetics.
It’s not a device, it’s an experience
Apple creates products. What Apple sells, however, are experiences. It’s not a phone with a camera, it’s the ability to capture memories. It’s not a video-chat feature, it’s the ability to be there even when you’re not. It’s not an app store with more than one million apps, it’s infinite possibilities.
Much of Apple’s marketing focuses heavily on emotional appeals. Rather than highlighting what its devices are capable of, Apple highlights what you are capable of if you own those devices. By connecting its products with sentimental activities consumers can relate with, those consumers, in turn, connect Apple itself with those activities.
It’s quite clever, really. Can you really put a price on sharing moments with your loved ones? As it turns out, you can if you’re Apple – it’s $199 with a two-year contract through your wireless carrier.
Join the club (read: cult)
Humans are social creatures. We have an inherent desire to feel included. So when a brand becomes associated with luxury and exclusivity, consumers tend to want it merely in order to feel like they’re a part of the club. It works for high-end fashion and high-end cars; it works for Apple as a high-end technology company.
This is an interesting development that has occurred over time as Apple has employed the marketing tactics listed above. Think of it as a passive benefit the company has attained through active processes. This is not to say that Apple hasn’t acted strategically to drive desirability for using their products, though. Features like AirDrop, iMessage, FaceTime and AirPlay offer improved functionality for those who want to connect with other Apple device users. Now that Apple has managed to position itself as the industry standard in terms of high-end technology, every new product release has consumers clamoring to drink the Apple iKool-Aid.
Apple did an incredible job of establishing itself as a technology industry giant. Although its products may not be the first of their kind, premium materials and effective marketing techniques are sure to convince many that they are the best. With all of the hype surrounding the new Macbook and Apple Watch released this month, Apple’s streak of successful product launches and sustained brand loyalty are showing no signs of stopping.
by Jonathan HaileIt’s almost hard to imagine a major American company in 2013 that doesn’t utilize Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, yet you really don’t have to look very far. You won’t find Apple on any of those channels (so if you’ve become a fan of Apple on Facebook, it’s an unofficial fan page).
In fact, you can’t even find Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, on Twitter. People like visible CEOs. It makes them seem “human”. Clearly that’s not Apple’s priority. They want to make products that challenge the status quo and that’s why their following continues to grow.
Their products speak for themselves. Their sleek and minimal aesthetics are almost futuristic-looking. Couple that with software that’s easy to use, understand and organize and you have phones, computers and tablets people love.
The brand benefited from Steve Jobs intellect, charisma and leadership. People were eager to know what Steve had in store at the next keynote speech. He was the face of innovation. You’ll see now that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has his speeches where he’ll introduce the next wave of the site’s technology. He probably wouldn’t be doing that if Steve hadn’t made it so cool.
Since Steve’s death, the company has taken a bit of a tumble. Tim Cook is a smart guy, but he’s no Steve Jobs. Apple is still more than afloat, however, ranking as the most valuable company in history. That speaks to how much people love their products.
If there has been a major criticism of Apple, it’s the company’s unwillingness to compromise. Their prices are reasonably high and they’re a secretive company. Being active on social media would give customers another avenue for voicing frustration with prices.
Don’t get me wrong. Apple is okay with customers having a voice. That’s what word-of-mouth is for. When someone gets a new iPhone, they tell their friends. They show them what the phone can do and why it’s so innovative.
Maybe they’re an extreme exception, but Apple proves that social media doesn’t have to rule how they interact with customers and followers. Keep that in mind, PR students. Social media isn’t everything. It’s good to be skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to online social networks, but don’t overlook those traditional PR skills. Apple’s communication team certainly hasn’t.