THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND
If you read through interviews, magazine articles, and stories about Steve Jobs, you’re never going to hear him say, “Here are my branding tips,” or “Here is how you build your brand.” Jobs didn’t operate under a cut-and-dried, connect part-A to part-B mentality.
For Steve Jobs, branding wasn’t some secondary objective, peripheral to his “true” objective of making great consumer products. Branding was within everything that he did. Check out these tips, through which you can get a taste of Steve Jobs’s brand-building philosophy.
1. Dare to be Different
Great brands stand out and stand FOR something. They don’t tow the line and do what’s expected, they dare to be different and they take a strong stand for what they believe in. They don’t try to please everyone and cater to the mass market. They know who their audience is and they focus their message on them. When you take a stand and stake your claim, you call forth your right people and repel your not-so-right people. This is a good thing. It’s called polarization and it’s what’s required to create a truly stand-out brand.
2. Challenge the Status Quo
Just because something has been done one way, doesn’t mean it always has to be done that way. Stop worrying about your competitors and start focusing on your customers. Challenge assumptions about delivery, about format and about outcomes. Entrepreneurship is not a one-size-fits-all equation. You are the CEO of your company – do it the way you want to do it! There are no rules.
3. Create an Experience
Have you walked into an Apple store recently? I did when I smashed the glass on the backside of my iPhone. I was choked, yet walking into the Apple store made me feel much better. The energy, the people and the overall experience were all consistent with Apple’s brand. I felt like I had entered another world – a special, exclusive community just for Mac users like me. Within minutes I was at their Genius Bar with a very helpful Apple guy looking over my situation. Five minutes later, I was on my way with a new back screen at no cost to me (well, I did buy a new protector case). BTW – this is all very intentional and deliberate on Apple’s part, so start thinking about how you can create an incredible brand experience for your right people.
4. Design Matters
Speaking transparently here, a huge part of the Apple appeal to me is in its design. Every product that comes out of Apple is thoughtfully crafted with a huge emphasis on aesthetics. This is terribly important for your brand. It isn’t everything of course – you still need a powerful message and compelling copy, but design is the first thing people notice when they come to your site. According to Derek over at Social Triggers, a recent study indicated that when asked why somebody distrusts a website, 94% cite design problems. Bottom line? Invest in a skilled graphic/web designer to come up with a visual brand that enhances and aligns with your overarching brand.
5. Stay at the Leading Edge
Steve Jobs and everyone else at Apple are innovators. They stay ahead of the curve and are constantly one step ahead of their competition. They are never comfortable resting on their laurels and simply enjoying the ride. Instead, they constantly dig deep and do what it takes to grow. Not in a vaccuum, but with their right people in mind. So continue to dream, test your ideas, be willing to take big risks and challenge what is possible for yourself and your potential. And most importantly, as Steve said in his 2005 Commencement Address to Standford’s graduating class, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”