image credit: gapingvoid

Be The Brand You Wish To See In The World

A lot of companies say they want to have a brand like Apple. The problem is, they copy the wrong things. If you really want to be more like Apple, you have to start at the brand’s core.

Several years ago, I subscribed to gapingvoid’s daily email. Nearly every day, it gives me some inspiration in regard to something I’m thinking about or working on. The other day, he talked about being in a permanent state of re-invention, which made me think of Apple.

I’ve written about how Apple constantly re-invents their products before. It’s not just their products though. Whenever possible, they re-invent categories and markets. With iTunes, they changed the way people buy music. With the iPhone, they redefined the smartphone. And as I write this, I’m certain that they are working on a way to redefine the way we think of TV. As I thought about Apple more, I started recalling the countless meetings I’ve sat through where someone utters, “We want to be like Apple!”

This was yet another example of why so many brands can’t be like Apple. Not many companies are interested in re-inventing their products constantly. They’re more interested in squeezing every last drop of profit out of what they have. Anyway… Every time I hear someone say that a brand needs to be more like Apple, I cringe on the inside because I know they don’t really want to do what they need to do to be like Apple. What they want is to do is copy the same external things that Apple does.

Of course I understand why people want their brand to be like Apple. Who wouldn’t? First and foremost, Apple consistently ranks as one of the world’s most valuable brands, often taking the number one spot in the past few years. From a business perspective, it’s very clear why being like Apple is a good idea.

Add to this that Apple has one of the most passionate and loyal followings of any brand in the world. So much so that comparisons of Apple to religions and cults are very common. Any time you doubt this, just head to an Apple store on the morning of a new product launch. How many other brands have people lining up outside their doors hours before they open for a new product launch, even when the the new version isn’t all that different from the last version?

Heap on to these things that Apple’s retail stores are nearly always packed, their products and packaging are beautifully designed, they constantly improve their own products and software, they receive regular coverage in the media… I could go on, but neither of us needs that. It’s clear why a lot of brands would like to be like Apple.

The trouble with brands trying to be like Apple though, is that these external things are what they try to copy. Just as many smartphone manufacturers have tried to copy the iPhone’s touch screen, its form, and its use of apps, but have failed to replicate the full experience of using an iPhone, trying to copy the external features of Apple’s brand and their marketing will also fail.

To use a human analogy, it’s no different than a person copying their favorite celebrity or athlete to change what others think about them. Changing something on the exterior doesn’t really change anything. To create real change, you have to change the brand from within. In other words, you have to be the brand you wish to see in the world.

So, if your goal really is to be more like Apple, don’t try to copy what they’ve done on outside. The outside looks fantastic because it’s a reflection of what motivates them from within. Instead, copy what Apple is at its core — a company driven to enhance every life they touch.