Is it time we admit that the Apple BRAND is better than the Apple PRODUCT?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

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Apple is clearly the brand of our generation. In our house, we have an iMac desktop, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones, and two MacBooks.  I love Apple. But this past spring, as my phone contract expired, I started to wonder if I get the iPhone 5S or wait for the iPhone 6.  I was a free agent, and started to look around. I looked at the Android, but like many “Apple fans”, I viewed them as the competition, like a NY Yankee fan might view the Boston Red Sox. The more I dug in, the more I realized the Android phone was quite better than the iPhone: bigger screen, faster processor, better camera.  So I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Whaaaat? That’s right. A Samsung. I felt like a cult member who snuck out of the compound one night and drooled when I saw the Samsung phone. I could see the Galaxy was light years ahead of my iPhone.  Now that I see the iPhone 6, I’m glad I bought the Samsung instead of waiting.  

Yes, the Apple iPhone 6 news kinda fizzled, but does that matter anymore?

I’m no tech expert, but the iPhone 6 feels a very incremental technology. I’m sure it does a few things I’m not aware of or could appreciate. Financial analysts were so bored by the launch, many downgraded the stock. Yes, the Apple stock price is extremely high, but maybe it’s time for the stock to stop living and dying based on the next great launch.  And maybe, it’s time for us to realize that Apple has shifted from a product driven brand to an idea driven brand.  The real reason people buy Apple is the BIG IDEA that “We make technology so SIMPLE, everyone can be part of the future”. With Apple, it has become less about how we think about the product and more how we feel about the brand. While Samsung has a better product than they do a brand, Apple now has a better brand than they do a product.  Samsung can’t get past talking features instead of benefits, offering almost zero emotional connection beyond the product.  Apple has created such an intensely tight bond with their consumers, they are more powerful than your average monopoly. Apple uses that power with the very consumers who love them, against competitors who try to imitate them and through every type of media or potential key influencer in the market. Below we have mapped out the Brand Strategy Road Map for the the Apple brand.  

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Apple isn’t really a technology leader, and likely never was. Yes, Apple had an amazing decade of new products from 2001-2011 that gave us the iPod, iTunes, Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad, but Apple is 
a quick follower who figure out the mistakes the technology leaders make and then cleans them up for the mass market. Apple exploits the fact that the first to market technologies are so badly launched (mp3 players, on-line music and tablets) the average consumer never really sees them, leaving the perception that Apple is the innovator. Apple’s product strategy is: “We bring technology that is simple and consumer friendly across a broad array of electronics products. Products have simple stylish designs, user-friendly functionality, convenience and speed.”  Apple’s brand story, told through great advertising like “Mac vs PC” is: “Technology shouldn’t be intimidating or frustrating. We make it simple enough so you can be engaged right away, do more and get more, with every Apple product you are use.”   As an example below, the  beautiful ads over the past year are less about the product features and more about how the brand makes you feel.  

The most Beautiful Apple Product Apple is now their P&L statement

Maybe we just need to relax on these Apple launches and admire Apple’s Profit and Loss statements.  Apple is going to sell about 80 million iPhone 6’s and I bet the iPhone 6 will be under many Christmas trees this year. Stores continue to be packed–it’s tough to even get an appointment.  The Apple retail stores have the highest sales per square foot, almost twice the #2 store, which is Tiffany’s selling diamond rings.  

Apple is now a huge mass market corporate brand, with a market capitalization of $600 billion, 3 times the value of companies like Coke, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and IBM.  Apple has moved from the challenger type brand to the “king of the castle” brand. Back in the 1980s, IBM was the “drive the BMW, wear a blue suit with polished shoes” type brand, while Apple was “comfortable in your VW Bug, tee-shirt and sandals” brand. Apple was the alternative, anti-corporate, artist. But that’s changed. As much as Apple fought off and won against the corporate arrogant brands like IBM, Microsoft and Sony, they’ve now become that very type of corporate brand.

At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by it’s consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand can be.  The best example of this model is the Apple brand. 

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In researching the Apple brand, and as a true brand geek like me, when I opened up their P&L statement I almost gushed:  I drooled over the compound annual growth rate, stared at the margin % and was in awe of how their fixed marketing spend stayed constant as the sales went through the roof.  It’s the P&L that every Brand Leader wants to leave for the next guy.  

Apple Brand > Apple Product

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on the programs we offer, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands better. We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Finding your love in the art of being different.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

I found this year’s Super Bowl ads were “pretty good”.While the Farmers ad stood out as amazing, the Budweiser ad was nice. But the rest of it while well executed feels like something we see on CNN all the time. Nothing was different.

Given the current economy, shouldn’t we be taking more risks to stand out rather than playing it safe right down the middle of the road? Let’s hope someone has the strength to do something different.

The classic launch formula: do the basic product concept testing, hope for a moderate pass. Then meet with sales and explain how this is almost identical to the launch we did last year, and builds on the same thing we just saw our competitor do. Re-enforce that the buyer hinted that if we did this, we’d get on the shelves pretty easily. Go to your ad agency, with a long list of mandatories and an equally long list of benefits they can put in the ad. Tell the agency you’re excited. They’ll tell you they’re excited as well. Ask for lots of options, as a pre-caution because time is tight and we’re not sure what we want. Just hope the agency clearly understood the 7-page brief. Test all the ads, even a few different endings, and then let the research decide who wins. That way, no one can blame you. Do up a safe media plan with mostly TV, some small but safe irrelevant secondary media choice. Throw in a web site to explain the 19 reasons why we launched. Maybe even a game on the website.

Ah, we have our launch. 

This is a guaranteed formula for success, because it follows last year’s launch to a tee and will be done hundreds of brands this year. Convince yourself, you had to play it safe because sales are down, margins are tight and you will do something riskier next year once this launch is done. What looks like a guaranteed success will likely get off to a pretty good start and then flat-line until it will be discontinued three brand managers from now.

At some point, to break through in a cluttered market, you’ve got to do something different to stand out:  now, more than ever. It might feel like a risky move, but it’s almost riskier not to take that chance.

Push yourself to be different. The most beloved brands are different, better or cheaper. Or not around for very long.  

There are four types of launches:

good-vs-different

Good but not different (our launch above) 

These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar. However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all. So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat. This option offers limited potential.

Good but different:

These don’t always test well: consumers don’t really know what to make of it. Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life. But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”. It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand. This option offers long-term sustainability.

Not good and not different:

These are the safest of safe. Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good. The tallest of midgets. They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market. But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically. What appears safe is actually highly risky. You should have followed your instincts and not launched. This option is a boring failure.

Different but not that good

Sometimes we get focused on the product first: it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need. So we launch what is different for the sake of being different. It does poorly in testing. Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching. But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference. And it fails. The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

It will be up to you to figure out how to separate good from bad. One caution is letting market research over-ride your own instincts. As Steve Jobs said: “it’s hard for consumers to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it. Yet now that people see it, they say OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT”

We always tracked many numbers (awareness, brand link, persuasion etc), but the one I always wanted to know was “made the brand seem different”. Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out. Don’t just settle for ok. Always push for great. If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand? The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent.      

In case you need any added incentive: Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies. Just because they are different! And the place where most ground hogs are run over is right in the middle of the road.  

Push yourself to find your difference

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 

For a presentation on how to write a Positioning Statement, follow:

Other Stories You Might Like

  1. How to Write a Creative Brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan. To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about. However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise. Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan: How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits: The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer. There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience. The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability. To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits
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Listerine PocketPaks: A case of becoming a beloved brand through execution that people love

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

It was 11 years ago this month, that I launched the Listerine PocketPaks brand here in Canada.  It was one of the most exciting launches I’ve been a part of–with an amazing consumer response.  Good memories.

We knew we had something different and wanted to take advantage of that difference.   As we brainstormed, we talked about how movies get such quick awareness and desire.   We wanted that–and used that as our model for the launch.

About 4 weeks before the launch, we got devastating news that the launch would be delayed three months.  All the media and sampling programs had already been set, and distribution was committed.   This could destroy our brand before it even launched.  Instead, the delay helped because with all the media and sampling programs pre-launch, it actually created such a pent up demand for the brand, that once we launched, we hit a 55% share in the first month.

The key programs for Listerine PocketPaks.

  • DRIVE TRIAL IN SOCIAL PLACES:  With a product like this, you had to try it to believe it.  We sampled all summer in events like film festivals, food events and carraces–and the theme of the sampling was Aliens from another planet, with attractive 20-somethings in tight blue silk, ready to fully engage in conversation about this product from out of no where.  We gave out full pack sizes, and we know from tracking that people shared them with an average of 13 people.   For every million samples we gave out, we were reaching 13 million people.   They spread the word for us.

    Sampling Events, with Aliens from outer space. Dropped 1 million full size packs before the product hit the shelf, creating pent up demand.
  • DRIVE AWARENESS IN SOCIAL PLACES:   With movies as our inspiration, our Advertising took a very movie feel–launching an 89 second movie ad in theatres that summer.   One other convention we broke was we didn’t say the brand name until second 46, so that we could fully engage the consumer before they knew it was an ad.  Lots of pizazz, but in reality the ad is all about the 5 step demo of using the product.   The advertising results were very strong on breakthrough, brand link was huge, made the brand seem different and persuasion were very strong.

    The way movies marketed new products was our inspiration. And made it’s way into our execution.

With all the activity through the summer, there was such pent up demand, that we hit a 55% share of the mint market in the first share period, and maintained a #1 share position throughout the first three years.    We over-delivered our forecasts by over 50%.  Stores could not keep this in stock.   We won the Product of the Year award and the Advertising won a Cassie for Best Advertising.  And on top of that we were the enviable “most stolen product in Wal-Mart”.

The ending of the story is not so pretty.   Like most confectionary products, it had a spike early on, but we weren’t able to sustain.  From a production point of view, they never figured out a way to get that damn strip in the pack for a reasonable cost.  Compared to food or confectionary, the margins were very strong at 60%.   But compared to the other healthcare margins of 75% or 85%, Pfizer could not justify the investment to keep the sales strong.   Different brands tried to use it on other healthcare products as a delivery mechanism.  But it never caught on.   Listerine PocketPaks captured the imagination of consumers in the summer of 2000, with marketing execution all designed to make it a beloved brand.

You’ll still see it around some places, but we haven’t fulfilled that one consumer’s belief that he’ll never have gum or mints again.

Article from Strategy Magazine Go to:

http://strategyonline.ca/2004/09/17/robertson-20040917/