Apple is one of the foremost branding companies in the world. Marketing experts from all over the world state that the key to Apple’s success is its brand and has little to do with its products like the Macbook or iPhone. The Apple brand is based on emotion and experience, which is reflected in the brands core values of imagination, innovation and design.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s the marketing executive John Sculley joined Apple and turned it into the largest computer sales company in the world, with a profit of US $53.394 billion in 2015. Sculley changed Apple’s marketing strategy, increasing the advertising budget from $15 million to $100 million. Sculley stated in an interview with the Guardian in 1997, “People talk about technology, but Apple was a marketing company. It was the marketing company of the decade.”
Apple is the epitome of an emotional brand. Apple customers do not just enjoy their relationships with the brand and the product it sells; they love it. Apple creates deep and lasting bonds with its customers, which produces loyalty and positive experiences.
This relationship with its customer base is the key reason why the brand is still around today. During the mid-1990s the company looked like it was in danger of going out of business, with the support from the connections it made with the people being one of the only things keeping it afloat. The return of Steve Jobs to Apple also helped to revitalize the brand it bring it to its full fruition to become the brand we know today.
Marketer Marc Gobe, author of Emotional Branding, argued that when a brand is powerful enough it could be as compelling as a religion. Gobe stated, “People’s connections with brands transcend commerce,” Gobe recalled Nike, which ignited the rage of consumers when it was revealed the company produced its much-loved products in sweatshops. “They were not pissed about the products,” Gobe said. “It’s about the company’s ethics. It’s interesting how emotionally involved people are.”
All emotional brands have 3 things in common, according to Gobe:
The company portrays a humanistic corporate culture and a strong corporate ethics, involvement in the community and support of good causes. Apple’s founding ethos was power to the people through technology. It’s always about people,” Gobe said.
The company has a unique visual and verbal vocabulary, expressed through advertising and product design. This is true of Apple, its products and advertising are clearly distinguishable.
The company has created a “heartfelt connection” with its customers. This can take several forms, from creating trust to growing a community around a product. Apple’s products are designed for the people: “Take the iPod, it brings an emotional, sensory experience to computing,” Gobe said.
Gobe stated that Apple has always portrayed a human touch — from the magnetism of Steve Jobs to the concept that its products are created for a love of technology.
“It’s like having a good friend,” Gobe states. “That’s what’s interesting about this brand. Somewhere they have created this really humanistic, beyond-business relationship with users and created a cult-like relationship with their brand. It’s a big tribe, everyone is one of them. You’re part of the brand.”