Overtime, the importance of branding cannot be discounted from the success of any product or service widely available in the market. The impact of branding on the general market shows very significant relevance on the performance of the business in the economy. A brand can be aptly defined as a name which has the power to influence buyers. Furthermore, more than just a name, a brand could also be a symbol or any trademark which connotes a specific company and instigates recall and awareness among the general market.
The economy in which we currently live are defined an attention economy. It simply means that we are living in an economic condition where the general consuming public is confronted with too many options and people have limited time. Because of this constraint with time, more often than not, they could no longer spend their time comparing before they can possibly make any choice, with this, the power of branding is very essential because the brand which comes on top of mind of the consumer will always be the first choice and the most influential in triggering purchase. The brands in the market must be able to possess certitude and trust. And such will be possible through a very careful brand management program which will make the brand a name of instant recall and recognition to increase its market value.
Some of the characteristics of the most successful brands which have gained a significant share of the market include the following: able to conjure up a big idea and attractive; experienced by people at contact points; activated by deeds and behaviors; communicated; and distributed (Kapferer, 1992). With this, the concept and practice of strategic brand management is of paramount importance for the success of products and services. In this paper, the researcher will present the strategic brand management which was executed by Apple and how such have attributed to the global success of the brand.
APPLE: AN OVERVIEW
Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs are among the greatest minds on what we know today as Apple, the brand which gained global recognition because of being known for designing, manufacturing, and marketing various type of personal computers, mobile communication devices, and portable video and music players. More than this, the company is also known for being successful in marketing and selling different types of software, services, peripherals, and solutions for networking. The company was able to penetrate the global market through a variety of its marketing and distribution channels including the online community, its retail stores, direct sales force, and third party providers. Recognizing the brand's need to be bale to penetrate the global market and tap the untapped market, the company has provided expanded ways of being able to distribute and market their state of the art and quality products. Relentless efforts have been exerted by the company to be able to convey the message of their brand in the global landscape and to be able to reap success for the said brand which is translating into greater revenue for the company. The iPhone, iPod, iPad, and MAC computers are among the most popular products which are being manufactured by Apple. The technology places in these products are one of the most significant factors on why it is successful worldwide. And to top it all, the successful brand is also essential and plays a very significant role in the over-all success of Apple.
INDICATIONS OF SUCCESS
Through the many years that Apple has been present in the global market, the name has already been known and such ahs already gained recognition in the world for manufacturing products which are not only technologically-advances but also of high quality. In this success that the company reaps, the role of brand cannot be discounted. It is the brand itself which contributed to their major success. The management recognizes such need that is why they have exerted extra efforts in their strategic brand management activities to enjoy more success. Apple, as a brand has become a company-specific identification which is reflective of the products which the company manufactures.
For the management of Apple, developing a strong brand is very important because it enables them to enjoy a myriad of benefits which is reflective of their business operation. Some of the benefits that Apple reaps from having a successful brand, according to Cravens and Piercy (2006) include the following: repeat purchases that enhance the company's financial performance because the brand enables the customer to identify and re-identify the product compared to alternatives; the introduction of new products because the customer is already aware and familiar with the brand because of the previous experience from purchasing; promotional effectiveness, by providing a point of focus; premium pricing by creating a basic level of differentiation among competitors; market segmentation by communicating a coherent message to the target audience; and brand loyalty. These things are among some of the advantages which Apple is enjoying nowadays because they have successfully marketed their brand, more than what they did with their products and services.
The succeeding sections of this paper will present basic argument backed up by relevant literature and other evidences on why the brand Apple is now considered to be successful in the global market. A thorough analysis and presentation of some of the basic concepts of branding will be presented and its indications in the success of Apple as an international brand reflective of the company's quality outputs.
In the branding decisions of any company's, especially those which are in a widespread operation, the logo is perhaps one of the most significant factors which can contribute to the company's success. A carefully designed logo is very important because it conveys what the brand is all about and what the product or service has to offer the general market. According to Cheverton (2002), a successful logo provides the public with a relatively quick rate of recognition of the brand and can be able to elicit responses form the consumers' sub-conscious and can eventually trigger purchase.
The importance of logo in branding decisions has also been recognized by Apple that is why the management ahs also shown paramount concern on how to market their logo and how such can be designed to reap maximum benefits. The images which were presented below reflect the two logos of the company. The first is the old one while the second reflects the new one. Practically speaking, the design is still the same, just that there is a notable difference on the color. The design of Apple's logo is representative of knowledge according to the person who made it, Rob Janoff. The simplicity of the design of the logo is perhaps one of the most significant factors which made its way to success. The design of the logo and its current color is said to be sleek, just the same way in which the directions of the company is geared according to its management. The logo redesign of the company, from being rainbow-colored to monochromatic, showed that the company does not need a complete redesign in its logo in order to create awareness in the market. Simple modifications, such as changing the color, would prove to be enough. Being one of the most powerful corporate symbols in the world, without the doubt, the Apple logo is one of the most significant branding strategies which made the company successful. The logo itself already speaks for the company. Even without illustrating the name, by simply looking at the apple with a bite, it can already be recognized that the product carrying the logo adheres to the standards set forth by the company.
Shown above is the old and new logo. The old one is rainbow-colored and later changed to be monochromatic to show personality of simplicity.
The Product Line
Another thing which is said to have contributed to the success of the company is the simplicity in its product line. This branding decision has enabled the company to establish their products in the market with easy recognition because of the few models that they produce unlike its competitors who have produced a myriad of models for a single brand. The product lien of the company is said to be very simple characterized by the following: simple design, simple user interface, components made at high quality, and coherent software and hardware (Schumacher, 2009). These set of distinctive characteristics gave the brand a success which is beyond imagination and is set to take the brand into greater heights in the near future as it conquers more markets and develops more products for the public to use and enjoy.
The figure above shows the simplicity in the Mac computers which were produced by Apple. The simplicity of the design and the entire product line is attributed to play a role in the company's branding success.
In its earlier years of operation, the company is said to have a history of finding and serving niche markets. Then, the management chose to condense the brand's product line into serving distinct segments but directed towards different buyers (Burns, 2009). Presenting the consuming public with a myriad of choices is not always a good strategy. With Apple, the company chose to focus their efforts on few products but assured of high quality and performance. This decision is also attributed to be one of the greatest contributors on the brands success making it play ahead of the competition.
Another factor which could have had contributed to the worldwide success of Apple as a brand is perhaps its brand positioning in the market. In this global era of the so-called "killer competition, companies could either differentiate or die (Sengupta, 2007). To be able to achieve the concept of differentiation in the market, there is a growing need for companies to establish a brand positioning, one that is unique of them and one that will provide them a sustainable competitive advantage against other major players in the industry. There is a significant need for the public to know what the company, or what the brand, stands for. To be bale to do such, there is a need for a well-established marketing campaign which is geared towards strengthening the brand and increasing its market value. Apple recognizes this need as they claim their position in the market while sustaining such advantage.
Currently, Apple is positioned in the market as being a premium brand which meets and satisfies the needs of the public. Being a premium brand, that of course also necessitates a premium price for its products. Nonetheless, the premium which was emphasized in its products does not seem to affect its market value because its target customers are fast appreciating the company's products despite its high prices. This positioning of the brand is targeting the market which is less price sensitive and can aptly afford to buy their products. With that, the company established a culture which is geared towards targeting the market which falls under their qualification and focus on them as major avenues for their revenue. The success of the company's branding lies on the fact that such positioning enabled the company to focus only on a particular segment of the market without having to diversify their products and remove premium in pricing strategies only to tap the market which are price sensitive. The company chose not to compete on all market segments and just focus on the few which drives the biggest fraction of their revenue. This is done to be able to protect the company's positioning in the market which is premium products at premium price.
Another factor which is contributing to the branding success of Apple in the global market is brand personality. Brand personality refers to the human-like traits or attributes which are present in a particular brand. Brand personality is an important branding concept because it paves way to developing characteristics of the brand in which people can relate and in which people can feel the presence of such personality in the brand itself. Brand personality could give the customers an experience which is unique of the characteristics of the brand, thereby differentiating it from others (Gelder, 2003).
The branding strategy of Apple attempts to focus and put an emphasis on the emotions. The marketing perspective of the company is operating under the belief that working on these emotions will enable them to tap a greater share of the public and will bring them branding success as more people can relate to the brand or to the products manufactured by the company. The brand personality which was developed by Apple is all about a dynamic lifestyle, regaining liberty, imagination, passion, innovation, dreams, hope, and empowering the people through technology. These personalities which the company tries to associate with the brand can be felt through the experience of their products and services. The brand personality if Apple is also about simplicity as evidenced by the products it manufactures and also removal of complexity from the minds of people as manifested in their simple applications which remove complications for easier usage.
The brand personality of Apple is contributing to the success of the brand because it conveys traits or characteristics which the market feels and appreciates. For instance, another brand personality of Apple is its being friendly to the public. This perception is brought about by simplicity and ease of use of their products such as the Mac. The brand personality also connotes characteristics of being unpretentious and going out of the grain as shown by the innovation in its products and applications. This contributes to the success of the company's branding strategy because it provided a way in which the consuming public could be bale to relate their self-identity.
Comparable to the evolution of man, the company is also engaged into rejuvenating its products and presenting new options as the market changes.
The market in which businesses operate nowadays is challenged by modernization and increasing advancements in every dimension possible. Some products and corporate practices have already proven to be obsolete enough and there is a significant need to change or alter these ways in order to cope with the changing demands and changing circumstances of the market. With that, brand revitalization has long been acknowledged by many businesses as one of the major ways in which they can rejuvenate their brand and give such a new feeling as they provide the general consuming public with a relatively new experience as well. Brand revitalization continues to be the solution to aging products and declining markets at present. As the brand loses its strength because it loses relevance and attractiveness, companies must exert new efforts which are directed towards improving their outputs in order to maintain or advance their position in the market. The key to successfully revitalize the brand is to first identify what is the vision of the proposed rejuvenation and what innovation will be used in order to carry out such plan (Heding et al, 2009).
The management of Apple was also able to recognize the fact that the world is fast changing and they have to cope up with these changes as their markets have also changed overtime in terms of preferences and characteristics. The company acknowledges the fact that every business needs to improve, therefore certain ways must be changed in order to deal with this improvement. In the case of Apple, brand revitalization entails modification or changing their products or some features in order to deal with the changes in the new market of today. Apple was able to transform the company's new position when it launched the new and improved iMac. Apple also revitalized some of its products like their music players in which they release models of newer generation in order to satisfy the changing needs of its customers. The brand revitalization practice of Apple helped the brand to succeed because it provided the people with a new experience of their products. It provided the public with new ways on how they can enjoy their outputs. The product revitalization practices of Apple only shows that they are committed to satisfy the public's changing needs. The two images presented above show an old Mac and a revitalized Mac which was done in order to cope with the modern market.
Apple. The bitten apple. The discussion which was presented above shows how Apple was able to gain branding success putting the company at its current position in the market. As acknowledged by any other companies, there is a paramount concern to put an emphasis on brand since it is the backbone which defines the personality of the company and its entire operations. The brand conveys the general personality of the company and how it is committed to serving the needs of its target market. With the branding strategies implemented by Apple over the years, it is very clear that it was able to capture the hearts of the public. Being one of the leading name sin the business world nowadays and generating higher profit margins, it is safe to assume that Apple has indeed reached a successful branding strategy putting the company's name at the top of the game in the global market.