Unless you live in a tree fort in the Congo, you’re familiar with the Apple brand. They’ve not only built a business, but a brand that’s become an empire. Their competitors can’t even come close to seeing the success that Apple has seen in the technology niche.
For example, did you know that the iPhone alone brings in more revenue than all of Microsoft combined (to the tune of tens of billions of dollars)?
How do you get there?
How does that happen?
How does a guy start with an idea that becomes a technology cult several years down the road? Is the iPhone that much better than other smartphones? I don’t think so.
So what’s going on here?
What has Apple done to see so much success and what you can you and your team (if you have one) start doing today to emulate them?
Tip #1: Build Your Brand
The first thing you need to realize about Apple is that they built more than a company, product, or a business. They built a brand.
And that brand has made them billions of dollars.
So what is a brand? What does that mean? A lot of people mistake a company’s logo for their brand but a logo is just a bunch of pixels somebody created on a screen. A brand is something entirely different.
A brand is something that’s intangible yet simultaneously very real. Marketing and branding guru Seth Godin defines a brand this way:
Did you catch that?
A “brand” is what people think of you and your business when you’re not around. It’s the perception that you create about yourself that sticks with people- good, bad, or ugly.
Everyone has a brand whether they like it or not. So why not make it shine?
People connect with brands not products. The iPhone craze isn’t about the product it’s about the brand. when people stand in line for week at a time, they want to be seen by others. They want to be seen with an iPhone, and they want to be identified with the Apple brand.
Douglas Van Praet has studied the science and psychology behind this type of attachment and writes that:
He explains in the article that our brains are hardwired to attach and connect. We can’t help it. So when a business or marketer gets this and works tirelessly to create this kind of attachment- you get something like Apple:
Cool, sophisticated, uncomplicated.
People dig it.
So how can you build a brand like that?
You have to do it at the identity level.
You have to create a feeling in your audience that makes people say, “me too!” because they know that you get them. When you can tie your brand into people’s self narrative (the story they tell themselves about themselves) you’ve won. How does that happen?
- You have to make emotional appeals that lead to emotional connections.
- You have to speak to the heart, not the head.
- You have to know your audience and speak to their felt needs.
- You have to give people something that helps them improve who they already are.
Notice that none of this has to with your sales pitch or product. It’s all about creating meaningful personal connections with your market. Listen to what these iPhone fans had to say about the phone and notice, it has nothing to do with the actual product features. Instead, they talk abut how having an iPhone makes them feel:
“It’s the hype of getting it and having the latest technology. That is compelling to everybody. I have one, and I can not live without it.”
“Everyone’s just talking about it. It feels like you have to get one, because it’s out there.”
You can’t buy that kind of loyalty. It happens at the neurological level. So when you can position your brand in a way that evokes that type of response, you’re already ahead of your competition.
Your competitors are still marketing with cliches, platitudes, and free coasters. If this is you, please stop. You don’t build a business or give away free pens to be successful.
You need to build a brand.
Tip #2: Tell Your Story
After Apple built their brand, what came next was their story. They know how to tell a story in a way that resonates and sticks with people. Everyone on the earth has a story that they place themselves in that helps them make sense of who they are and what their purpose is.
Every brand has a story too.
The goal of every marketer should be to get both stories to intersect.
Apple tells stories that create wonder, are educational, true, and most importantly, inspiring. They create a felt need that makes people take their 2 weeks vacation and use it to stand in line for a phone.
They know how to create wonder and highlight emotion. They tell customers, “You’re more powerful than you think” and display online galleries of things people have created with their products.
Apple doesn’t just create products, they help you solve your problems. It’s what’s missing from your life and you need it. And if you’re still not hooked, they tell stories of how their brand has changed the lives of others and how it can change your life too.
And it works.
According to some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, our brains come alive during stories. We attach ourselves to them and find meaning and purpose in them.
So why not use them in marketing?
How do you begin telling your story?
Simple — you need to be intentional about it and you need a framework.
When you’re thinking through who you are and why you do what you do (i.e. your brand) a story will start to unfold. I highly suggest downloading Donald Miller’s free e-book, “How to Tell a Story” because it’ll give you the framework you need to frame your narrative properly and help you think through it.
You need to be a student of story, study story, Google it, focus on it, and make sure you tell your stories to everyone you meet. When you stop “selling” and start telling stories about the people you’ve helped, who you are, and why you’re in business…
…people will listen.
Tip #3: Cook Your Bacon
Have you ever noticed that Apple doesn’t try to reach everyone? They have a very specific niche that loves them and they’re unapologetic for being who they are and doing what they do.
Apple just does their thing.
They don’t try to appeal to everyone and they definitely aren’t people pleasers.
Fans love them
Haters hate them
In the meantime, they’re making billions of dollars and staying true to their brand. Just like Apple, to successfully gain brand exposure and build an audience, you need to do what you do without compromising or selling out.
You’ll never please or reach everybody- so stop trying to.
Brand Strategist Justin Foster came up with a branding metaphor that likens the most exciting and interesting brands to bacon. Mmmmmmm, bacon.
How do you sell bacon?
You cook it.
Bacon doesn’t apologize for being so insanely delicious and tasty. It’s bacon- it can’t help itself. Some people hate bacon (shame on them) but most people love it. Bacon doesn’t pretend to be lettuce and it doesn’t try to take center stage at the Vegan Convention.
In the same way — you have to be true to yourself, ignore the haters, court your fans, and do your thing. If you let fear or criticism govern your decisions you’ll end up being boring, uninteresting, irrelevant, and status quo.
Listen to your audience.
Traditional marketing is humdrum.
People are instantly turned off by it.
You have something you do that is awesome and the world needs to hear about it.
People need what you have to offer so … go give it to them.
Brian Lenney is an online entrepreneur who helps brands tell their stories. You can download his free e-book on storytelling by clicking here:”Six Storytelling Techniques Every Brand Marketer Should Know.”
[…] 3 Things Apple Did to Build Their Empire […]
Apple is one brand everyone should look at as an example. Their ‘think different’ approach has really worked. They have redefined themselves from a computer company to a consumer electronics company and that too with great success.
Apple has completely built their brand from scratch since 1997 when the company was almost bankrupted. It’s actually a great example on how a company can recover itself from that level.
Well said, Brian!