I love all things Apple. Always have. My first business, set up in the late 90s, depended on Steve Jobs’ early empire. With PCs, you had to rely on a technician to build your network. If anything went wrong, you had to wait for them to come back and fix it. With Apple, you could do it all yourself.
I still keep those old Macs and among the working products I currently possess are the 27 inch iMac, an iPad and an iPhone. But my admiration for Apple has moved beyond simply the beauty of their hardware to the majesty of their brand communications.
One of the keys to building reputation is to be distinctive. The Mac has always been different and it revels in that difference. When I bought the iMac from PC World, I was served by a young guy wearing baggy jeans, a cool T-shirt and even cooler haircut. No blue shirt with button down collar and dark trousers for him. The way he was dressed spoke to the brand.
When my wireless keyboard developed a fault and I took it back to the Apple store in Regent Street, I was booked in by one of the ‘experts’ wirelessly via his iPad. A few clicks, taps and swipes and I was in. Here was Apple living and breathing its brand – and its technology.
When I splashed out £25 recently on Apple’s rechargeable batteries and charger for my mouse and keyboard, I didn’t stop to price shop or check Apple’s claims about its energy efficiency, I simply dived in to buy, such is the power of hedonic consumption and heuristics, the mental shortcuts we use to make sense of the world and prevent ourselves going mad trying to understand the bewildering choice arrayed before 21st century consumers.
When I purchased in store, there were no traditional tills or pay points of course. I dealt with an ‘expert’ who enabled the transaction via a handheld device which looked like an iPhone with attitude. Again, another ringing endorsement for the brand and the technology.
The key to successful integrated marketing communication – and the bedrock of effective corporate communication – is to ensure that at every customer touch point, at every customer interaction, your brand and organisational values are present and vivid. Or as we like to sum it up, they run through your organisation like letters through a Stick of Rock. Apple manage this in spades.
It is one of the reasons why 54 million people own their products worldwide, why last quarter PC sales slumped by minus one per cent while Mac sales shot up by 28 per cent and why the Mac has outgrown the PC every quarter for the past five years.
When Steve Jobs took the stage at the WWDC in San Francisco this week, he received a standing ovation from the 5,200 attendees. The audience would have been bigger but the venue was the largest Apple could find. Jobs responded simply: “Thank you. That always helps and I appreciate it very much.”
Apple showcased Lion, their new Mac OS X operating software, at WWDC. Boy O Boy O Boy – that Mission Control feature looks good. And what a cool name for those who, like me, are still boys at heart. You can see Lion being demonstrated on this video streamed from the event – it comes first. As my colleague Robert Fenner said: “Watch it, Window users, and weep!”
Posted by Crispin Slee, Stick of Rock