It is no surprise that Apple continuously tops the list of the biggest brands in the world. It has done so for eleven continuous years, amassing an incredible brand value of $263.4 billion. For context, Facebook the social media behemoth is valued at $81.48 billion.
The top ten most valuable brands worldwide in 2021:
- Apple – $263.38 billion
- Amazon – $254.19 billion
- Google – $191.22 billion
- Microsoft – $140.4 billion
- Samsung – $102.62 billion
- Walmart – $93.19 billion
- Facebook – $81.48 billion
- ICBC – $72.79 billion
- Verizon – $68.89 billion
- WeChat – $67.9 billion
If you look at the list closely, you will notice that by industry, Big Tech is dominating, and there are no signs of it stopping.
Apple leads the pack by a substantial margin, although Amazon is a close second having witnessed explosive growth in the past years.
The question arises, how does Apple command such an authentic presence amidst the mind of the modern consumer?
The History of Apple
Apple Inc. heavily depends on the Apple Brand Image to compete across several highly competitive markets. Apple’s brand has evolved quite a bit as it has expanded its range of products and services.
What originally started in the late 1970s as a desktop computer company, metamorphosed into a tech giant, with products like iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch under its belt.
Apple emerged as a challenger in the market, bringing easy-to-use computers to the common man and small businesses. It focused heavily on the style, individuality, and needs of the people, rather than conforming to what its competitors were doing.
Apple today is still somewhat consistent with what it set out to do in its early decades – delivering extraordinary customer experience. The Co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, described the company as a “mobile devices company”. When the iPod was launched in 2001, Apple revitalized the brand by moving its brand and product strategy closer together.
The company renamed itself in 1977 as Apple Inc. rather than Apple Computer. It signified Apple’s ambition to be more than just a computer company. Today, the company is defining itself even more broadly. It has put together its digital content services, like Apple Music, iBooks, and App Store, to be a key value proposition for Apple device owners.
Moreover, Apple is making most of its services and functionality available to whatever Apple device you may be using, be it on your desk, lap, fingertips, or wrist.
What Apple Can Teach Us About Effective Branding
There’s no better branding success story than Apple’s. Apple was founded by two college dropouts, and it has pioneered its expansion into various industries and services. Furthermore, Apple was the first to become America’s first $700 billion company.
The iconic branding strategy of Apple has always relied on emotion – providing the customer a forward-thinking creative vision. With Steve Jobs at the helm, since its inception in 1976, Apple distinctly prioritized building a community of dedicated fans.
Apple often maintains an aura of secrecy surrounding their upcoming products, which creates the sort of buzz that money can’t buy.
Apple, more so, has always positioned itself as something different. They “Think Different”. What their products actually do, is not what really brings in sales. All their customers think while buying an iPhone is “I want this because it’s an Apple iPhone.”
The meticulous attention to the aesthetics of the product, and the air of secrecy Apple employs while promoting new products, has enabled the Apple brand to be associated with luxury in the eyes of its customers. And that is what many of its customers are paying a huge amount for – a symbol of status that is driven heavily by emotion.
The Apple Brand Personality
Apple’s brand personality is about liberation; passion; hopes and dreams; innovation and imagination; it’s about giving power to the people through aesthetic technology. It is also about simplicity and decluttering people’s lives. Through all these qualities, Apple is positioned as an extremely humanistic company with a heartfelt connection to its consumers.
It is this connection that cultivates such brand loyalty among its fanatics and empowers them to price their products so much higher than their competitors.
So what’s the secret to brand loyalty? Well, there’s no easy answer. But promoting a brand personality that your audience has a connection with can go a long way. After all:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”
Famous Branding Expert
To attain brand loyalty for your own brand, you must do what Apple did – connect emotionally with your consumers and start a movement your customers can rally behind. The rest will soon follow.
Being Part of Something Big
The loyal following the brand has gained does present the organization with a daunting reputation to live up to. Each product of Apple is designed to deliver the brand promise and is fundamental in keeping Apple profitable.
Apple makes sure to create a user experience that extends way past the purchase stage of its product, which is why unboxing videos are so popular. It puts the customer in a central position within the brand’s community. Unboxing videos offer an honest look at the products that make the consumer feel good.
Apple has done this time and time again, it puts the customer at the heart of everything they do. For instance, Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign, not only does it exhibit the versatility and features of the camera, but it also showcases real videos shot by real people. Apple offers its customers the chance to be part of something much grander. No wonder the first wave of the campaign videos was viewed at least 6.5 billion different times.
The Shot on iPhone campaign successfully synergized human emotion with real product benefits. It showcased how the iPhone fits into the consumer’s lives. It reinforced the brand fundamentals of Apple and furthermore solidified an emotional bond with the audience.
So no matter how entertaining or creative your campaigns may be, they are most likely to miss the mark if there’s no emotional connection with the audience.
Apple’s Customer Franchise
The Apple brand is not just intimate with its consumers, it is loved, and there is a genuine sense of community among the users of its product lines. The brand equity and customer franchise that Apple encapsulates is extremely strong.
For instance, the preference for Apple products amongst the Mac community is what enables the company to sustain pricing which is much higher than its competitors. Not only that, this preference is what kept the company afloat for much of the 90s.
It can also be argued that without the premium price that Apple sustains in many product areas, the company would have been done for decades ago. In recent years, this strength in brand preference has directly impacted Apple’s profits.
The Apple Customer Experience
The huge promise of the Apple brand essentially presents enormous challenges to live up to. The highly aesthetic, top-notch products Apple delivers are not only designed to match the brand promise but are rudimentary to keeping it.
Apple has long known that every aspect of the customer experience matters and that all brand facets must reinforce the Apple brand. Hence, Apple has expanded its distribution by opening thousands of its own retail stores in key cities around the world.
When you walk into an Apple Retail Store, you directly experience Apple’s brand values. The prospective customer experiences an invigorating, no-pressure environment to discover more about the Apple family.
One can try out the company’s products, and receive practical help on Apple products at the stores’ Guru Bars. The staff is instructed to be informative, helpful, and enthusiastic without being pushy.
In a nutshell, the feeling is one of all-inclusiveness by a community that gets what good technology should look and feel like.
What do we mean by discernable value? Discernable value is a customer’s assessment of the costs and benefits of one brand compared to another. It is a primary factor when we ask why the world’s most valuable brands are so successful.
Discernable value is just as valuable from the company’s perspective. The customer may be willing to pay a much higher price because they deem the brand to be of a higher quality. This is the core of Apple’s continued success over its contemporaries.
In 2017, although Samsung sold more phones, Apple still managed to bag 87% of the total smartphone profits, which is a huge monopoly.
The iconic status that Apple has amongst its consumer base directly explains why they can charge so much more than their competitors, despite the technology being more or less the same quality.
Like it or not, Apple can price their products at a premium exactly because they are aware of the power their brand holds amongst its loyal fanbase.