No, You May Not Have This Tasty, Tasty Apple.

I understand that everyone loves the Apple brand for its vibrancy, simplicity, and power. I really do. It’s a kickass brand, so it’s not surprising. But… Please don’t ask me to build you a brand ‘just like Apple’ unless Steve Jobs’ ghost is already on board to lead it. Because that’s what it’d take to make it work.

Look… Contrary to what most of the branding and advertising industry shouts at customers, the job of a great branding team is not to give you the brand that you want. Our job is to give you a brand with which you can succeed. Asking for a brand that looks like Apple may be an effective short-hand way to convey an aesthetic that you find appealing, but the whole underlying structure from which brands are actually built is overlooked in the process. Worse, the chances that what you and your staff find aesthetically appealing and what will bring a positive change in the behavior of your intended audience being the same are nearly nil.

What made Apple… well, Apple… was the insight, effort, and execution of Jobs, Wozniak, and their team. The name and logo they chose didn’t cause their success; the verbal and visible brand was a direct result of the unique qualities of the organization’s leadership expressed nearly to perfection. They changed the behavior of hundreds of millions of consumers around the globe by genuinely understanding who Apple was, delivering a product that could only come from such people, and communicating both their thinking and performance in a way that seemed to both illuminate and prove their difference. Or as I would normally put it, they used something very like Gandhi’s Pyramid. If you want to honor their brand or have similar successes then I’d advise you stop trying to copy the result of their efforts or the current state of their brand and start duplicating the effort and unique insights that led to it.

Making you look like Apple isn’t that hard. (Just ask Samsung.) But creating a lasting and valuable brand as unique and genuine as Apple from your own values and actions should actually result in a brand that in the end isn’t much like Apple at all.

 

One Response to “No, You May Not Have This Tasty, Tasty Apple.”

  1. Larry Mannino says:

    I agree – blatantly ‘created’ (copied) brands are as ephemeral as today’s ‘pop star’ – if they’re not authentic, they’re not sticky. Give me a messy business with depth and passion and that gives a damn about their product – even over profit; in that lies the identity ‘fingerprint’ – and what you can use to build, manage and evolve into a strong brand, because it’s already in the company’s DNA. Alas, no two fingerprints are alike – sorry Apple lovers. All is not lost, though – I’ve found that good clients ‘get it’ once you explain the complexities and importance of branding in more detail – and they’re the one’s who get the process, appreciate your work and effort, and stick with you over the long haul. And reap the rewards.

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