The world is full of contradictions. Last week, Apple posted history’s highest-ever quarterly profits. £11.8bn, mostly down to the stratospheric sales of iPhone 6.
That’s at a time when the world continues to reel from the economic downturn; as household budgets feel further pressure; and as the squeeze continues on public services.
Listening to BBC News you’d have thought they were reporting from different planets. On the one hand there were stories about overstretched A&E departments where our elderly citizens were left on trolleys in corridors as there were too few beds on the wards. While the next report tells us that 74m people each spent £500+ on an iPhone between October and December 2014. That’s in addition to the millions who already own an iPhone. Contradictory? Yes. Bewildering? Yes. A demonstration of brand power? Definitely.
Anyone who owns one will testify that the iPhone is a wonderful thing - you can use it to pretty much run your life (you can even use it to talk to people; hands up if you remember the days when that’s what phones were for?) But despite its relevance to organising our busy, cluttered lives and ensuring we are in constant contact with our mindfulness app while not missing out on a constant stream of Facebook posts, it’s £500+ for a non-essential item. A £500 spree on a luxury which we could (if we really tried) live without.
Which brings us to our point: the undeniable value of a remarkable brand. Regardless of what’s going on in the broader economy, companies which can develop this so-called ‘brand equity’ are able to find a place among the audiences with money to spend. That goes for consumer brands and business-to-business brands alike.
The brilliant thing about the truly successful brands is that they get it right on so many levels, all the time. In the case of Apple, we can all relate to great products, fun in-store experiences, cool associations, innovation and the entrepreneurship of founder, the late Steve Jobs.
And while identification of these successful brand traits is relatively easy, it’s extremely difficult to replicate. Samsung sell more phones than Apple, but when is the last time someone showed you (or mentioned) their latest non-iPhone device?
Perhaps (though who would admit it) it’s a matter of appealing to our selfish, if subconscious, desires to look cool with the latest expensive gadget, or to work with the best-known suppliers, demonstrating our earning power and status. Or maybe it’s a more basic human need to be part of a herd. Or maybe it’s just a case that we all like to err on the side of caution – as the old saying goes: no-one ever got fired for choosing IBM.
Let’s face it, wouldn’t every company like to have a bit of whatever’s in that ‘secret sauce’ which makes Apple such a success?
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About the author:
Jon Walker is M.D. of Ultimate Creative Communications with over 14 years’ experience, Jon has an extensive knowledge of all digital marketing disciplines and has a passion and deep understanding of more traditional forms of marketing and over-arching Brand Strategy.