Brand Management 102: Big Market Economy and the Importance of the Approach
The Problem of Big Markets
Back in the day—before reading was a public activity and various forms of media were widely available—sellers established their brand through word of mouth.
There were folks who went around on horseback, shouting out decrees by the lord of the region, or to announce the arrival of special merchants who sold well-known specialty products. Phoenician merchants used this tactic well.
It was a direct tactic that worked well. But back then, when you had very little competition to deal with, it wasn’t that difficult to establish your corporate brand identity. That was why traders who sold specialty materials had no trouble getting their wares sold—their reputations sold themselves!
Try taking that attitude to the way the market is today, and you’re bound to become the laughingstock of the industry. There are far too many competitors offering the same products for you to give yourself proper leverage with just the reputation of your product alone.
With the advent of technology that applies to the mass media, though, it became possible to reach a bigger audience with very little effort in a shorter amount of time. But that didn’t solve the problem. As a matter of fact, it probably made it worse.
Do What Apple Did
That’s where establishing brand identity comes in. In order to get your reputation to do your job for you, you have to haul ass for your reputation. And sometimes, that involves not just making sure people know what you’re selling, but creating a story about your product as well.
The best example in this case would be Apple. Back in the day—say, early eighties—Apple was pretty much just another fledgling computer manufacturer. Even after Steve Jobs joined, and then left, and returned to the Apple fold, it wasn’t until designer Jonathan Ive joined the team that the iMac started selling again.
After a series of failed attempts at reinventing themselves, the introduction of the iMac’s design and sleek interface brought interest back to Apple’s Macintosh series. Seeing as how the hip and trendy and artistic niche caught on to the iMac’s appeal, Apple started a brand identity that simply said that Apple was the definition of hip. Even the logo branding (see picture above) evolved from the old Apple logo, as seen below:
Of course, the good thing about Apple is that they followed through with what they sold to their audience. Not long after the introduction of the iMac and the Mac OSX software—another hit to the upscale consumers—the release of the iPod revolutionized the way mp3 players were defined. And not long after that, the iPhone blazed the way into the future of smart mobile communication.
See what I’m getting at here?
The Identity is in the Approach
Apple’s approach to propagating the brand image of Apple computers, as well as the “I” trademark, was to tap into their niche, and hit them with the best gadgets they have. By consistently providing quality technology under the Apple name to their regular consumers, Apple unsuspectingly created a culture of evangelization among their followers.
Hold that thought. When Apple realized the marketing potential of their market base, they recruited some of their best customers to present the “I” lifestyle to the rest of the world. Once the trend hit, the hype became a lifestyle, wherein Mac users swore left and right that their Apple gadgets “just worked.”
Apple took two approaches in branding here. The first one involved company name branding, wherein by proving that their technology delivered, Apple assured its users that they got what they paid for.
And what did they pay for, exactly? Why, the quality that came with the “I” trademark, of course. The “I” was the brainchild of creative graphic design, but due to the hype created by the sudden burst of user reviews, the brand became an iconic brand that represented an attitude or a way of life—two brand approaches at the same time.
So you see, even though Apple pretty much played it by ear before they caught wind of the lifestyle their “I” trademark was generating, they used this to leverage the identity of both the company brand name (a provider of quality technology) and the trademark (a way of life). So in turn, if you pay close attention to how you approach the way your brand is marketed to the public, you have the chance to become the next Apple Inc.,—so long as you do things right.