Who Gets "It"? Apple Does.

We all know Apple gets "it." iMac. iTunes. iPod. iPhone. All-in-one monitors. The list goes on. But what is "it" and why do they so consistently get "it"? Vision? Innovation? Is it all wrapped up in Steve Jobs?

No.

What they have, which so many companies strive for, is a total understanding of what their true value proposition is, and how to apply it in any market they deem viable.

Steve Jobs is, of course, the ringmaster, but there are thousands of Apple employees who have bought into Apple's essential premise, so spiritedly crafted a decade ago: Think Different. That was not just an equity-borrowing, broken English campaign to promote the Mac's ability to get its users push the envelope. It was a definitive, benchmark rally cry for the entire company that has guided its philosophy and actions ever since.

Think about it (and I don't mean that mind-numbingly vague campaign from Hyundai and it's sleep-inducing flash web site that does nothing concrete to convince me I should buy a Hyundai.) Apple has calibrated its brand to such a precise extent that everything it does revolves around its ability to think different – from company strategy, to product strategy to messaging strategy. There is no separation.

Time and again, people said Apple would end up as a well-known but niche computer brand. And time and again, Apple flicked aside the naysayers, stayed true to its unique proposition, and changed not only markets, but entire landscapes, habits and industry fortunes. Let alone the perception of what is cool to Gen X, Gen Y, boomers, ‘tweens etc.

Apple has successfully married business and marketing strategy through an unwavering focus on its true value, to a wide range of not altogether similar constituents: consumers, the media, retailers, the financial community, developers, engineers, and the stock-buying public.

They don't parse their messaging, and don't believe in short term campaigns (which by their very nature are temporal and diffuse brand consistency…more on that another time.) Design is certainly a big part of it: you know instantly when you see an Apple product, print and TV ad, brochure, packaging, web page....that it is from Apple. Forget the logo, you just know. Apple is neither style nor substance. It is both.

And that's why they get an A+ in "Brand Calibration."

Brand Calibration, a term and structured process developed by my company, is defined as: the continuous process of adjusting and refining a company's value proposition to succinctly match the wants and needs of that company's multi-tiered constituencies.

It is a process that, when followed assiduously, becomes an anti-stalling device that continually aggregates external, internal and competitive forces and information, into a rational, analytic and strategic approaches to sustaining growth through the development of new markets, products, services and operational techniques.

From a communications-only standpoint, Brand Calibration is the process through which companies blend marketing and business growth strategies into value proposition-based messaging programs that simultaneously de-commoditize a company/product/service brand to target audiences, out-position competitors and reinvigorate employees.

That's a mouthful, and difficult to fully explain in a few words. But to understand it, think about every touch point you have with Apple and its products, and then compare that to....say....Motorola, or Hyundai or Kodak or Sears or Miller Genuine Draft.

 

Then you'll know what I mean. They don't get it. Apple does.

Next up: What’s wrong with United Technologies’ "Cross Section" corporate campaign.

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3 Comments

  • Alder Crocker

    All good points you've made, although I would say that Apple is much more than hip and trendy, it is smart, focused and consistent about what it is, does and offers. My central premise.

    Most at my agency use Macs, have iPods, use iTunes and the like - and they are die-hard Apple fans and ambassadors because they believe in, and have experienced (which is the ultimate key) the Apple creed - use Apple and you will think - and do - different things...better. I am a PC guy and these folks are rabid.

    As for touch points, they don't have anything that is wholly different than other like consumer & business products companies, except for their store. By touch points, I am specifically referring to their focus at each touch point: every time you come into contact with Apple - advertising, products, packaging, in-store, etc. - you know what Apple stands for and is trying to provide. Not that Apple doesn't fall down or fall flat giving the customer "more" of what it wants, but it is always trying to push the envelope and never rest on its past laurels. Only a company like Apple, in my opinion, could have such a run as the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone, because they are all interconnected. Sony? Toshiba? HP? Motorola? Dell? No. These companies have different missions, different cultures and are less about the user experience in terms of personal capabilities and emotional attachment than Apple.

    Apple only, or mostly, tries to do what it knows it can do, and not veer off the path, like so many others. Sony Electronics, Music, Entertainment...talk about lack of synergy and strategic focus.

  • Christopher Scherer

    I would agree that Apple is "hip and trendy" but what touch points do they possess that others do not?

    Grab their attention advertising? New innovations? Best in class service? Best in class pricing? Retail/repair store on every corner?

    All of these are debatable and some are not even close to the mark.

    They make some great products and some very innovative ones, but they also fall flat many times by not giving the customer what they a screaming for. Subscription service iTunes plans, iPhone on a fast network (or other network), Apple TV promises 1000 movie rentals but only delivers 400 titles, Macbook Air (very light, very thin, but no user replaceable battery, slow hardware) is that what the business traveler wants?

    Specifically what touch points are you referring to?