Marketing and branding


"Start-up. IPO. Merger. Acquisition. Is there ever a point that a brand's strategy isn't critical to the success of the company? The simple answer is sure: at bankruptcy. Whether a brand is vying for the audience's awareness upon its launch or Wall Street's subsequent to its IPO, branding strategy (as opposed to brand building) is the foundation and glue of a company's identity, perception and success".

{Alycia de Mesa: Making Waves- Got Strategy? 23 July 2001.}

Introduction to Apple's brand strategy:

Apple uses its "brand" to compete with other highly competitive markets, including the computer industry with Macintosh and its related software's also the consumer electronics industry offering products like iPods, iPhones, digital music through iTunes and the latest iPad.

Apple's brand marketing has been one of the key components to its success. A company's brand is the identity it presents to the public. This corporate identity plays an important role in how consumers view a company and its products. Smart companies put a lot of thought into brand management, crafting a brand character that will draw in customers. More than just a product name, a brand can make the difference in why consumers chose one product over another. Throughout its history, Apple has employed a brilliant branding strategy that has created a loyal community of customers.

Apple uses a "digital hub" strategy creating innovative products and services. Example: The apple Macintosh computer is a digital hub for other digital devices from apple like the iPod, iPhones, cameras, mp3 players etc.

Brand Personality:

Apple has a branding strategy that focuses on emotions. Its brand personality is about hopes, dreams, aspirations, liberty regained, innovations, imagination, passion and power to the people through technology. Apple also focuses on simplicity the removal of complexity while using a "people driven product". Apple is a very humanistic company and so it has a connection with each customer. Apple is a much loved company and there is a sense of community among the users of its main products. It's like a dream come true to own an apple computer.

The brand equity and customer franchise which Apple embodies is extremely strong. The preference of the Apple Macintosh computers among its customers has not only kept the company alive but also provided the company with the sustainability of the prices of its products when compared to its competitors. It is arguable that without the price-premium which the Apple brand sustains in many product areas, the company would have exited the personal computer business several years ago. There are many small personal computer vendors who have struggled to compete with the big supply chain manufacturers of Dell because of their weaker equity. Apple has made huge advances in becoming more efficient in their logistics and operations, but it cannot compare itself to the profits that Dell transacts at.

The huge promise of the Apple brand, of course presents Apple with an enormous challenge to live up to. The innovative, beautifully-designed, highly ergonomic, and technology-leading products which Apple delivers are not only designed to match the brand promise, but are fundamental to keeping it. Apple fully understands that all aspects of the customer experience are important and that all brand touch-points must reinforce the Apple brand.

By opening retail stores in many key cities and up - quality markets Apple is improving its distribution capabilities. Apple provides Apple Mac-expert retail floor staff to selected resellers' stores (such as Australian department store David Jones); it has entered into strategic alliances with other companies to co-brand or distribute Apple's products and services (for example, HP who was selling a co-branded form of iPod and pre-loading iTunes onto consumer PCs and laptops). Apple has also increased the accessibility of iPods through various resellers that do not currently carry Apple Macintosh systems (such as Harvey Norman), and has increased the reach of its online stores. The Apple consumers get the direct experience of the quality in the Apple stores. The stores have a no pressure environment where the customers can get practical help using the computers or any Apple product. The overall feeling is one of inclusiveness by a community that really understands what good technology should look and feel like - and how it should fit into people's lives.

Apple maintains a very "monolithic brand identity". Every product in the company is associated with the "brand name". It also invests in the Apple iTunes and iPod. Apple's current line-up of product families includes not just the iPod and iTunes, but iMac, iBook, iLife, iWork, and now iPhone. However, even though marketing investments around iPod are substantial, Apple has not established an "i" brand. While the "i" prefix is used only for consumer products, it is not used for a large number of Apple's consumer products (e.g. Mac mini, Mac Book, Apple TV, Airport Extreme, Safari, QuickTime, and Mighty Mouse).

The iPod and iPhone halo effect:

Apple has also profited the music business through iTunes and iPhones. The strategy is to boost the music business and help it affect the computer business. Apple is using its products like iPod, iTunes, iPhones etc to recreate the Apple "brand image". The initiatives of these products are reaching a high appealing brand image for Apple in the consumer's eyes. Anything related to apple or any product with the Apple logo is worth the money.

Apple started "the iPod halo effect". This helped Apple to create an interest for the Apple computers through the success of the iPods and iPhones in the market. This was very successful because since the start of iPod there has been a raise in the sales of the Apple computer products. A couple of years ago, Apple's aspirations for the iPod halo effect was highlighted most strongly when it used the slogan "from the creators of iPod" in its promotion of iMac G5 computers. In this instance, the Apple brand became full-circle - having been built into a branding system that originates in the personal computer market, then leveraged into the consumer electronics market, and then back into the consumer personal computer market.

Apple's strategy seems clear: to use the popularity of the iPhone to break back into large corporations, and ultimately have Apple Macs on the desks of large businesses (or more probably - in the laptop bags of middle and senior managers in most large businesses. The Mac book Air is also clearly aimed at this type of market).

Stanford University has published contemporary records and original documents of the marketing strategy for the Apple Macintosh launch in 1984, including the original Apple marketing strategy and the Apple Macintosh product introduction plan written by Regis McKenna.

It is now 25 years since the launch of the Apple Macintosh (on January 24, 1984). Having proven itself and already gained considerable popularity with the Apple II, Apple chose to announce the Apple Mac in one of the most famous-ever commercials, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on 22 January 1984.

The formal product release came a couple of days later on January 24th, 1984. In addition to the innovative Apple Mac graphical user interface (based on concepts from Xerox PARC), the Mac's industrial design - shown below - was revolutionary for the time. Interestingly, it share's the same screen size (9 inch) as the latest popular PC format: Net Books.

The first Mac (above) had just 128KB of RAM and a 400KB 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, and a 9-inch, 512x342 pixel monochrome displays. The original Mac graphical user interface was revolutionary in its day. It introduced the use of the mouse and features such as icons, fonts, folders, and audio to mainstream computers.


Pretty soon you'll see a bunch of iPad walking around, to the delight of application developers the world over. The iPad themselves won't have grown legs, but the pre-order sales exceeded 100k in the first two days, heightening the anticipation around Apple's latest family member. And with the official release of the iPad just around the corner, we're seeing some of that anticipation emerge in the form of apps we can expect to see on the iPad. As such, the iPad has become Apple's new opportunity at appealing to consumers, developers and media partners, with one sweeping move. Having such a dedication to personal media and its consumption, Apple is shifting its focus just enough to take it into a very wide realm. Ensuring the brand is a welcoming and encouraging one is important for Apple at this step in its long term journey in maintaining its reign.{/}

Financial Success:

So far the branding strategy has been really successful. Most of Apple's computer sales in the retail sector are to people who are new to Macintosh. The company's sales have been growing rapidly since 2006 and during the past couple of years Apple has achieved the best ever quarterly financial results. After the success of the iPod Apple introduced iPhones to extend the company into corporate levels. In 2007 Apple's marketing efforts were extremely successful after launching the most highly anticipated product- mobile handsets. In 2008 the buzz of the 3G iPhone resulted in over 1 million units sold in 20 countries in 3 days.

Apple has also delivered very strong results in the face of hesitant consumers who were under the pressure of recession period. Total revenue growth for the latest quarter was +36% led by the Mac brand in personal computers at +51%. The MP3 segment led by the I Pod brand delivered growth of +1% while the iPhone sold 1.7 mm units.

It's a mystery however that Apple has been showing awesome results even during recession with premium pricing while the competitors deliver poor results. The answer is simple- superior branding strategy.

The company's brand name is its most valuable asset. For Apple its brand name is the best feature. It's the reason behind the profits. The consumers rationalize the positives and the negatives of the company just by looking at the brand name. A brand can be more than a product name as people relate it to the supermarket industry. Apple is a strong brand that evokes the impression of cool, classy and technologically superior. There are many types of brand names which have an ample amount of products under them. Sometimes these products become the brand name. E.g.: the corporate brand called General Mills has the product Cheerio's under it. But not many people remember the name General Mills when compared to Cheerio's. There is a big G on the packet of cheerio's as an indication to the company. In Apple's case Apple is the corporate brand and iPod is the individual brand under it.

There were two main reasons behind Apple's strong success over the last few years. The first was the launch of the iPod. This boosted the income of the company as they advertised it brilliantly making the teenagers go crazy for it. They introduced the iPod with big music stars which helped the company to create a demand for it. They created a good product and the Apple brand name boosted the sales as it was known as the cool mp3. Compared to the competitors Apple created a value added difference primarily based on advertising and branding. Every person now has an iPod in their pocket.

The second reason was that they supported the Macintosh lines of personal computers and advertised the easy use of it when compared to vista. This resulted in 51% of profits. The consumers have reported back confirming that the Mac is easy to use and more stylish when compared with others. As mentioned above the "Halo effect" of the iPods and IPhones has added to the profits.


There are immense benefits to Apple as a company from this superior branding strategy. It's a brilliant platform for the new products in the future. The consumers will be constantly interested in the in the new products and will see them as new generation of superior technology. This will provide Apple with the superiority of the pricing over a long time. This means that Apple will continue to lead and deliver above average sales and profit growth.


World Wide Web:

  • National electronic library for technology. Article (online). Apple-s-branding-strategy-delivers-superior-results by Rich Shea available at (Accessed on 21 may 2010).
  • National electronic library for technology. Article 213270 (online). Apple ipad branding available at (Accessed on 23 may 2010).
  • National electronic library for technology. Article (online). Apple's branding strategy-branding available at (Accessed on 23 may 2010)
  • National electronic library for technology. Article.cfm (online). Apple brand marketing available at (Accessed on 25 may 2010)


  • Sico Van Gelder. 2003. Global Brand Strategy. Paperback edition. Great Britain and United States. Kogan Page Ltd.
  • Marty Neumeier.2006. The brand gap: how to bridge the distance between business strategy and design. 2nd edition. United States of America. New riders.
  • Owen W. Linzmayer. 1999. Apple Confidential: the real story of Apple Inc. Stanford publishers' ltd.
  • John Andrew Davis. 2010. Competitive success: how branding adds value. West Sussex. John Wiley and Sons ltd.

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