iBranding – Five of Apple's best marketing techniques

How does Apple do it? Tony Eades of The Brand Manager has distilled five of the company's marketing techniques and explains how you can put them to work in your business.

After four years of dominance as the world’s biggest brand, Google has finally been unseated by Apple. The value of the Apple brand has grown an amazing 859 per cent since 2006 helped by the popularity of their iPod and iPhone products released around this time.

So what is the secret to the success of the Apple brand and how can we apply that to our own business brands? At a press conference last year Apple’s leader, Steve Jobs gave his five keys to Apple’s success …

  1. Engage your team – the healthiest ideas come from vigorous debate
  2. Don’t take short cuts – it’s hard work that produces great products
  3. Forget about trying to be ‘the best at everything’ – find your niche and stick to it!
  4. Love your customers
  5. Focus on long term success instead of short term gains

Some great tips of course that you can easily apply to any size business but the real challenge is how to take the message to market and build your brand.

Here’s five ways that Apple did it and how these very same strategies can be applied to your business branding …

Keep it simple and make it fun 

It wasn’t that long ago that computers were boring – they looked plain, they were bulky and often needed a degree in rocket science to get past the welcome page. Apple changed all that from day one by challenging this perception and bringing to market products that were user friendly, colourful and even fashionable. How easy is it for new customers to understand what your products and services are all about and more importantly the benefits they offer?

Brand consistency 

Apple created and secured the ‘i’ brand then went ahead and tagged all of their products – iMac, iBook, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Each product has it’s own sub-identity yet stays connected under the master ‘i’ branding – this creates very strong cross-sell amongst the products and encourages the buyer to own the entire product line. Could your products or services be   sub-branded and target marketed in their own right?

Creating demand, delivering value 

By having initially a select distribution network of authorized resellers Apple were able to both create demand and manage pricing. Nowadays their products are available in more retailers as well as Apple’s own megastores yet the pricing remains fairly consistent across the board. Value your products and services and don’t discount – instead add value by packaging up products or including free extras.

Limited choice 

In business it is a common mistake to try and be everything to everyone instead of researching customer needs and then delivering a product that solves this. Today’s consumers hate making choices – we all say that we want choice but then we’re faced with a wall of plasma and LCD televisions that all look pretty much the same. Apple’s strategy has been to create a product for each market or function and make it easily available. From high-end Pro Macs for designers and professionals to the Mac Mini or iMac for first time users. Do you have too many products, services or packages that instead of making it easy for customers to buy actually confuses them?

Get creative!

Your brand has to move with the times or you’ll get left behind. Take a look at Apple’s marketing – from slick newspaper ads with big pictures and limited wording to the clever Mac versus PC television commercials where people became the computers, like the one that had the PC guy in a biohazard suit to protect against the threat of new internet viruses. Like Apple did to the computer industry – maybe it is time for you to challenge your market. Who said marketing the legal or medical industry couldn’t be a little fun and creative?

Tony Eades is the creative director of the BrandManager.

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