13 March 2008

Brand Obsession

When it comes to certain products I am very, very brand loyal. In an effort to redesign our corporate brand I have been doing a lot of research. One brand I am almost religiously loyal to is Apple. In my opinion no one does it better.

Here's an experience I had to show why Apple is the best.

Brand Yourself Like Apple

My iPod died. That's the bad news. The good news is that it was 2 days on this side of the warranty expiring. Since it was just 48 hours from losing coverage I raced to my local Apple store to get it taken care of. I was in no way ready for what I was about to see. I had to wait 20 minutes for my time with the Apple Guru. While I was waiting I was blown away by the marketing and branding there. I think what they do could help you brand yourself for easier representing or selling of Brand You.

Before I get into the branding let's take a minute to answer the question, "Why brand me?" First of all, know that you are branded already. I could ask the people you work with for a list of 3-5 words and phrases that describe you in your position. The responses for any one person could be as varied as maddening to effective.

If you want a promotion, recognition, or a raise, you want that brand to be as good as the Apple brand. In some companies if you just want to keep your job you need to have a good reputation. Your brand represents that reputation. By consciously examining your brand and reputation behind it you will be able to direct it, through your actions, to be what you want it to be. It's more productive than having to defend your position or make your case in an interview. You'll be a known entity; someone who can be counted on.

So on to some of the lessons from the experts at Apple from the point of view of this marketing oriented productivity barista. . .

First I was struck by how many people love Apple. I was there at 9:50am and already loads of people were checking out computers,

iPhones, and getting lessons. Coincidentally there was a squad of Apple folks in Christmas red shirts that were easily identified as the Apple team. I was assisted within a minute of walking in the store by a red guy. Brand lesson: work on being recognized. What you wear and being seen is part of your brand.

The store is a single storefront in a fancy mall. It's a small and cozy place. The walls were stocked from end to end with attractive product displays. Brand lesson: Do what you do in a big way over and over again.

Everyone who entered the Apple store was treated the same way – friendly reception and purposeful responses. Those of us wanting support were given online reservations for our spot in line – it's the equivalent of taking a number at the deli. I didn't have to stand in line to get my help. I felt confident that my place in line would be respected. I found out that I could have made that reservation from home and known my appointment time before I arrived. Brand lesson: be clear about what you'll deliver. Customer Service is paramount.

After my 20 minute wait I saw Janru who replaced my iPod and took care of the exchange paperwork. Brand lesson: Deliver what you promise right on time (or early).

Beyond the red shirts is the Apple Product. Everything in that place sent the same message, "We are Apple." Examples of Apple product branding:

• Consistent white packaging,
• The Apple logo,
• The Apple product names: iPhone, iPod, iMac – for example,
• The use of technology synchs with their creation of technology,
• The product features & benefits playing on the flat screens above the Guru desk, and
• The backpack style bag for accessories purchased.

Brand lesson: Know what message you are sending.

The use of technology is vivid as the sales associates have belt-loaded scanners and take your credit card anywhere in the store. There is no cash register and no line for check out. Brand lesson: do what you say.

The experience made me want to own an Apple. As Pine & Gilmore support in their book "The Experience Economy" , being part of this clan with a terrific look and practices is enticing.

The brand that you create for yourself will draw people to you and aid you in attaining positions that you want. What is your brand? Is it just what you want it to be? If yes you will be moving smoothly through this gig or onto your next one.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I've always commented on how Apple has branded their products, and how so many people are also branding them selves with Apple. I've owned numerous iPods and currently an iMac and Powerbook, and there's simply no better tool on the market that suites my needs more.

Also, a theory I've always supported is: Less is more. For example, the naming of Apple products. Simple right. Then look at the naming of other products like Dell or HP. Macbook VS Dell C2386... What does that mean? and why is it such a mouth full to say? Apple is defiantly a brand that knows what it means to be a brand.

Jack and Sarah said...

We are Apple all the way! No one does it better.