Marketer Marc Gobe, author of Emotional Branding and principal of d/g worldwide, said Apple’s brand is the key to its survival. It’s got nothing to do with innovative products like the iMac or the iPod.
“Without the brand, Apple would be dead,” he said. “Absolutely. Completely. The brand is all they’ve got. The power of their branding is all that keeps them alive. It’s got nothing to do with products.”
Gobe, who hails from France, formulated this view while researching his book, in which he tells how brands have established deep, lasting bonds with their customers.
Apple, of course, is the archetypal emotional brand. It’s not just intimate with its customers; it is loved. Other examples are automaker Lexus, retailer Target and outdoor clothing line Patagonia.
“Apple is about imagination, design and innovation,” Gobe said from his office in New York. “It goes beyond commerce. This business should have been dead 10 years ago, but people said we’ve got to support it.”
Apple connects with people – it has become an “emotional brand”. Adds Wired:
According to Gobe, emotional brands have three things in common:
The company projects a humanistic corporate culture and a strong corporate ethic, characterized by volunteerism, support of good causes or involvement in the community. Nike blundered here. Apple, on the other hand, comes across as profoundly humanist. Its founding ethos was power to the people through technology, and it remains committed to computers in education. “It’s always about people,” Gobe said. The company has a unique visual and verbal vocabulary, expressed in product design and advertising: This is true of Apple. Its products and advertising are clearly recognizable. (So is Target’s, or even Wal-Mart’s, Gobe said). The company has established a “heartfelt connection” with its customers. This can take several forms, from building trust to establishing a community around a product. In Apple’s case, its products are designed around people: “Take the iPod, it brings an emotional, sensory experience to computing,” Gobe said. “Apple’s design is people-driven.”
Gobe noted that Apple has always projected a human touch — from the charisma of Steve Jobs to the notion that its products are sold for a love of technology.
“It’s like having a good friend,” Gobe said. “That’s what’s interesting about this brand. Somewhere they have created this really humanistic, beyond-business relationship with users and created a cult-like relationship with their brand. It’s a big tribe, everyone is one of them. You’re part of the brand.”