Sadly, Steve Jobs is no more, but his legacy lives on in a brand that people adore. A while ago, I asked some of my colleagues, “What do you think other brands can learn from that legacy?” The answers were interesting and varied, but ultimately, the consensus was that Jobs ensured that the Apple brand and products were meaningfully different from the competition.
Contrary to the nihilists of the marketing world, who would have you believe that successful marketing is nothing more than meaningless distinctiveness promoted as widely as possible, Apple is the poster child of those who believe marketing is all about the creation and promotion of meaningful differentiation. Apple commands a significant price premium precisely because people value what it stands for. So what makes a brand meaningfully different?
To my mind, the critical ingredient is purpose, a clear understanding of what your brand stands for and how it will empower people to make their lives better. And if my colleagues' comments are anything to go by, Steve Jobs was purpose embodied. Here are a few of their comments:
The most important thing is for people to believe in your brand; and that can only be achieved by defining a purpose that goes beyond produce or profit. Andy Lees
Know what you’re trying to accomplish and stay focused – don’t go off in many different directions just because you have a hit in one area. Play to win and own YOUR space. Colette Chestnut
The main learning for other brands’ products is probably the extraordinary focus on the user experience, guided by the ideal of making people’s lives easier and better. Jake Kolb
My own opinion about Steve Jobs, he had a set of personal values that he stood by through everything, he wanted, with his products, to make a difference to people’s lives, and they did. He had a vision, and he cut through the crap to ensure the company focused on it. Lynne Deason
I've always felt what set Apple apart is that they were creating great products/solutions to address needs/issues consumers didn’t realize they had yet. Mike Griffin
The complement of purpose is delivery, the ability to live up to and exceed customer expectations. This comment from Dave Barrowcliff sums up what many of my colleagues felt:
When I buy an Apple product, the line that goes through my head whilst I’m using it is, "it just works.” It works in the way you expect it to and want it to, and it does it beautifully.
My takeaway is that the reason Apple resonates so strongly with so many people, is that its “brand” was not an afterthought pasted on over a product or technology. It originated from its very purpose and was confirmed by the user experience. This said, Alex Hernandez-Brun suggests:
Apple is among the few companies that focuses on both the product and promotion of marketing and sells that idea to consumers rather than simply one or the other. I think that this, more than the rollout of new technologies, is really what propels Apple and what makes it such an iconic brand.
Overall, many of my colleagues felt the Apple brand is summed up by one word, and that is “simple.” So with that in mind, it is worth noting another comment from Colette Chestnut, who said:
The fastest ways to kill the simplicity of stunning creativity and ingenuity - committees and consensus. The word “vision” is singular…not plural.
And for many brands, that is going to make Apple a very tough act to follow. So what else can brands learn from Jobs' legacy? Please share your thoughts.
This post was spotted on Straight Talk with Nigel Hollis
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