If you want your customers to “be your brand”, spend some time reading this post about how Apple has created a brand that has been built by raving fans.
In marketing and leadership, we all constantly preach the “You are the brand” sermon.
Something struck me today that maybe this statement may not be an absolute (this hit me today as I was on a run, using my Couch to 10K App for the iPhone and wondering if Steve Jobs owns a PC and if Bill Gates owns a Mac…I have no idea if they do, but something tells me they do…even if just to “check out” the competition a bit). I started wondering…”Maybe the owner and employees are not the brand…maybe the customer is the brand”. I am sure I am not the first or only person who has thought this, because you always hear of “walking billboards for your business” and “brand ambassadors” for your company.
If you take a look at the Apple commercials featuring the PC and the Mac guy, you can certainly see the resemblance in their creators (Gates and Jobs). But, at the end of the day, how many Apple or Windows customers actually KNOW the 2 founders OR people who work for the company? I know I don’t have any close friends that work for either company and according to Linked In, I am 3 levels away from Bill Gates, and I cannot find Steve Jobs on the site.
You see, I was sold on the iPhone without even going into a store. I was sold based on watching Generation Y navigate the sleek yet simple device and once apps started coming out, I was hooked…no going back for me now! And, many of the people using iPhones at the time of my purchase looked a bit like the Apple guy…cool… like they just stepped out of Urban Outfitters. And, once the PC and Apple guy started doing their thing on television, I wanted to be more like the Apple guy…life seemed to be much easier, more hip and more laid back… living out there on the edge of new media. The PC guy looked a bit like his neck tie was choking him or that maybe he needed a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia. So, at the end of the day, if you follow the 2 brands, you will see how Apple users literally live and breathe the brand.
So…the question is…how do you get customers to “be the brand”?
Here are 9 steps that I believe Apple is using to allow its customers to “be the brand”. These are simply from the standpoint of being a consumer and talking to other Apple consumers.
1. Give your customers something they don’t even know they need it before they buy it. I did not know I wanted or needed 10,000 songs on a mobile device until I had it…I did not know I needed my 10 favorite iPhone apps…now that I have them, I get crazy when I can’t use them!
2. Build mystery around your brand. Steve Jobs makes the announcing of a new product seem like Christmas is coming, and you want to peek inside the box while your parents are away from the house…you can’t wait to see what is inside the boxcovered in foiled wrapping and mounds of green and red ribbon. We all know there is a “next Christmas” coming with Apple…we just can’t wait to see what they will come up with next.
3. Make your brand relevant. As soon as the iPad came out, apps started flying out of every corner and closet to make people crave an iPad, because the apps are relevant today…not yesterday…Just check out the top apps for the iPad on Gizmodo and you will see what I mean.
4. Keep innovating. As of the last week, I feel like my iPhone is suddenly outdated…it is only a year old, but now I want the 4G… Apple is telling me that I can “multi-task the right way” and create HD video with the phone. As a multi-tasker who loves to shoot quick video…you’ve got me!
5. Place people in your retail stores and in the public eye that look like they belong there. If you have ever visited an Apple store, you will notice the folks at the genius bar look like they selected for both their brains and their looks! I have been to the store in Durham, NC multiple times, and these guys are great. They know what they are doing and trust me…they look like they are perfect for Apple!
When it comes to branding, you want your front line folks who are interacting with your customers to drip of your brand. As I look at this photograph, there are just certain people I could never see working behind this counter. I know that this sounds like a “skin deep” judgment, but it is true…when you are building a brand you are going to want people who look like they can eat, sleep and live your brand interacting with your customers. As humans, we are going to connect more quickly with people who “look like us” so that, as customers, we can go out and sell the brand more easily to our friends.
6. Find out what your customers like and don’t like. This is critical, and Apple does this so well…this is why (I think) the Verizon conversation is floating around out there…the Verizon customers want their coverage and they want an iPhone do the work. I just find it ironic that Jobs could not connect to his iPhone during his unveiling of the new iPhone and as the awkward moment was unfolding, fabs in the crowd shouted “VERIZON!” (Awkward but a message sent loud and clear to Jobs, who I know is listening).
7. Dedicate yourself to reinvention. People think that Apple set out to compete with Windows and Bill Gates…maybe…maybe not. Something tells me that Steve Jobs is dedicated to competition but more importantly… to reinventing the entire computer industry. I believe he is leading us all to being able to live with a simple system that we can hold in the palm of our hands. This will certainly allow us to be more mobile (I know I have been much less tied to my laptop since the iPhone came into my life…and I also have to give kudos to Jeff Simpkins for introducing me to Google Apps, as all connects seamlessly to the iPhone…so, I can perform most tasks from my iPhone).
8. Connect with the emotions of your customers. We hear this all of the time, but what does this really mean in tangible steps? Apple has tapped into our emotions by giving us music that takes us back in time, by providing easy tools to make our day less stressful (high marks to the multiple apps for the Where To? app for GPS and to theGet It Doneapp for time management) and for giving us the ability to video chat and record both voice and video to send to relatives and friends who are far away.
9. Keep it simple and consistent. I can spot an Apple product from a distance. The look is sleep, simple and just look so great…I have to touch it! If your brand is complex, clunky and always changes looks, the public will get confused. So…know who you are and the look you want to present, and you will attract the customers who will “become your brand”.
If you or your team is interested in learning more about convincing your customers to “be the brand”, contact me today for a leadership coaching consultation.
Bea Fields is an Executive Coach and the President of Bea Fields C
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