Monday, December 8, 2008

Treat your brand as an author does a story

Brand: Apple
Inspiration for a brand: Dude, it's Apple
Why Apple: Dude, it's Apple

Alright, yes, I am one of them too; someone who loves to consider himself as an everything Apple man. And I am a new kid in the block, albeit gaining a quick foothold in this Apple world. Now, I realize that Apple has changed my view of the world - the power of a meanie machine and an amazingly efficient sleek looking working style, my world is more colorful from the vanilla, boring, stupid looking drab Windows machine. Yep, I know, I need to stop the ranting for the welfare of the millions still stuck in the vanilla world - curse my arrogance.

Anyways, my point is not to do the comparison of the 2 world's but instead dwell a bit into the power the brand called Apple evokes in me. This is solely my view point and I think the millions of other Apple enthusiasts might endorse me.

So the brand story: everyone loves brands, more the glam and style, the better it gets, although the price tags get a bit too much for our small sized wallet most of the times. Apple however has always been not too expensive yet delivering an amazing experience. Some argue that it's the Jobs Phenomenon, and the company will be thrown to the dogs after him, yet I think its still amazing on how the company has cannibalized a lot of markets through the introduction of 1 single product and take the market by the neck to only dominate it and hit a big gold mine soon after.

Coming back to the brand story, I realize that I have gone to such an extent that I am trusting Apple more than I ever can imagine trusting a product / brand. I recently did a cool calendar, a book and a card from iPhoto that costed me little over 100 bucks. Even without reading through any of the mac forums on the coolness of the product, the finish, the shipping time, and whether there are any local players who can do the same job for me at a cheaper price, I went ahead and purchased the product to be shipped from California, This tells 2 things: 1. I am foolish, lazy as the word lazy can be defined and just wanted to get my job done; 2. I trust Apple as a brand.

Yes, I am lazy but I think it is more of factor 2 that overwhelmed me than 1. 
I vividly remember telling myself "yes Mahesh, go for it; it's Apple and it cannot be bad at all.". After I did make the purchases, some things started hitting me, like "What would happen if the shipping got delayed, or the time it would it take for the product to be delivered, or the look and feel of the packaging etc" . And on doing some quick research, I did not even find a single bad review about the whole process, nope not a single one. This tells you that my trust in the brand was worth all the money, and more so makes it more obvious that I will probably buy a lot more apple services without even bothering about the details. This is truly the power a brand can give you. You can argue that the amount is meager here, yes quite true but then it's more about the class of the product and the occasion than the cost itself. And there is nothing to worry about when it comes with anything Apple I guess. 

Last summer, I was in a branding workshop for my company Result with a brand guru named Thomas Gad, the man behind Nokia - Connecting People, and the author of books like 4D Branding and brand mind space. And his concept of branding is simple - "treat your brand as an author does a story" - cannot get more spot on! After all branding is an emotional process, it's more of buying the emotion than the brand / product.  And it seems that Apple knows how to stir up the right emotions in its cult like following.

Harvard lists 10 reasons for brand shortcoming and lack of fulfillment: 

  1. Failure to identify and articulate a compelling set of brand values 
  2. Failure to express the company's mission and vision meaningfully 
  3. Failure to help employees understand how their jobs have an effect on the brand 
  4. Failure to motivate employees to become active ambassadors for the brand at all times 
  5. Lack of know-how in the basics of branding at the operational level 
  6. A silo mentality within company divisions that wrecks cooperation on building the brand 
  7. Managers' resistance to changes that would benefit the brand 
  8. Lack of resources to make changes in how the brand is presented to customers 
  9. Lack of processes and tools that would make good branding automatic 
  10. Unwillingness to carry out the adjustments recommended by market research and customer feedback
Start up's typically spend very little time building the brand consciously, but I guess as we move up the ladder and grow up the company, building the brand becomes an impending issue that when spent time and energy on, the returns are extremely rewarding. This is what Apple did a decade back to see its never dying returns year on year till date, and probably for a long long time to come even after Stevie

P.S. Have you seen this video by Guy Kawasaki on innovation, and using mantra / brand to drive more innovation. I would take 55 minutes of my day to watch this again and again to get inspired :) 

1 comment:

Ragha said...

HI Mahesh,

A very good article. As you said, the tremendous and consistent performance of Apple's supply chain is indeed a great boost to their brand image.

Interestingly, I was checking

The best brands in the past 6-7 years, and Microsoft has consistently been 2nd or 3rd, pipped only by Coca Cola and IBM in the few years it was 3. Microsoft, as a brand, is one of the most respected brands in the world. Its very surprising considering that the user interface of Windows is not as good looking as Apple.

Just wanted to share with you,
Keep writing man,

Raghavendran Vasudevan