Apple… The likelihood is when somebody says ‘apple,’ the fruit isn’t necessarily the first thing you think of; it could well be the technology giant and branding maestro’s from Apple Inc. – the American multi-national company that has taken over the world.
As a result of the company’s success, businesses both big and small are all vying to emulate just a small part of what Apple has managed, but to many (particularly smaller) businesses, this may seem like a fairy-tale.
And while recreating the £700 billion that Apple is worth is unfortunately probably a pipe-dream for a number of business owners, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the firm that can help to improve the branding, success and trustworthiness of any company, big or small.
Branding is such an important element of a business and Apple has worked hard to perfect its own brand and ensure every product, member of staff and store adheres to is global brand check-list. Here are a few branding tips from Apple, courtesy of Business2Community, to help your business emulate the tech-giant’s success:
1. Don’t be scared of emotions – embrace them.
Good branding need not shy away from evoking the emotions of customers, instead it should embrace them. By engaging with customers on an emotional level a business will build a stronger relationship and thus be more memorable to consumers in the future.
Apple did this in the 1990s by launching an advertising campaign that featured recognisable heroes that had made a significant impact on the world. The overall message was that Apple was as passionate about world-altering innovation as these heroes, and it evoked an emotional response from consumers.
2. Be confident and consistent in your image.
It is also important to be sure about what the company is and what it represents, and also remain loyal and consistent in this image. It is hard to create a strong brand image if a business is unsure what that image is; be sure to define the company mission and what the company aims to become, then build a brand around that.
For Apple, one of the most consistent aspects of their brand identity is the use of the lower-case ‘i’ before product names – iPhone, iPod and iPad, for example.
3. Find a niche and be loyal to it.
One of the hardest parts of business can be identifying a unique customer base and niche audience – but once it has been discovered it is very important to remain loyal to this gathering. Think about the needs and desires of customers and always aim to fill this niche void.
Apple managed to recognise that their customers were looking for personal computing and managed to meet this need for a number of years. When the market became saturated with competitors such as Microsoft and other computer companies, Apple redefined their niche as industry-leading pioneers in personal computing and also expanded its offering to digital music and smartphone technology. In recognising its niche market, Apple has in fact become one of the most popular firms in existence.
4. Invest in talented individuals – quality not quantity.
Some businesses believe that investing in more staff will help them expand and reach more customers, thus improving their image and bottom line. However, it’s not the quantity of staff that’s important, more the quality of those individuals. Businesses need to invest in people who understand and believe in the company vision and mission, as only with committed staff will a business be able to better relay its branding message. Employees directly represent a brand, so choose them wisely.
It is no secret that getting a job at any Apple store and at Apple HQ can be hard graft, but those who do succeed are passionate about the brand and reap the rewards of excellent employee benefits, making them even more loyal.
5. See from the eyes of the customer.
Along with maintaining a strong company brand, vision and values, businesses require an ability to see from the eyes of the customer and understand what it is they want from a business – not necessarily in terms of products or services produced but loyalty schemes, correspondence and recognition. In order to do this, businesses need to have followed the above and know who the niche audience is and what the company identity is, too.
Steve Jobs, the infamous CEO of Apple, took great care in considering exactly what it was his customers were looking for, considering not only what the product or service needed to solve but also what extras they may find useful, helpful or exciting.
While the marketing budgets of most companies will not come anywhere near that of Apple’s, drawing on these unique branding tips can help any business of any size to replicate some of Apple’s success.