Wednesday, May 21, 2008

From computer geek to style icon

Nicole Kennedy.

What Apple can teach us about brand revitalisation.

Apple was launched successfully in 1976 by Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (“the two Steves”) with the company initially growing at a tremendous rate -led by the Apple II and other state of the art computer products. Apple’s success continued into the mid 1980’s. Although following this, circumstances changed. In particular, an injury to Wozniak necessitated Jobs to employ a new CEO. Internal tension followed which resulted in Jobs also leaving his company in the late 1980’s. The new CEO was ousted in 1993 but further leadership changes and internal uncertainty followed -resulting in a lack of company focus up until 1997.

Out of fashionWhile. Apple battled with its internal struggles competitors rose to the new technological opportunities on offer. 1998 BrandZ™data evaluates Apple’s position in an IT Hardware context. Plotting its presence relative to the competition against Voltage™-a measure of the likelihood to build share –illustrates the pressure Apple was experiencing from Hewlett Packard and IBM but also how it lacked the momentum to grow.

In 1998 Apple was a well known brand but in consumers eyes it lacked strong advantages on which to choose it above the competition –therefore hindering its growth potential. The internal struggle with company focus outwardly projected a lack of clarity around what its brand stood for. Within BrandZ™a brand displaying characteristics akin to Apple’s at that time is termed a Defender brand. Defenders occupy a middle ground in their market –attempting to take on the big players while having to fight off advances from emerging brands. Apple’s Brand Signature™-a summary of relative strengths and weaknesses versus the competition -indicated it was strong at presence but poorer at converting this awareness to loyalty. For many Apple lacked relevance -as it was perceived to be expensive -and worryingly it displayed performance issues (seen as not easy to use) which contradicted with the ‘user friendly’core essence that was intended at birth. A lack of appeal, higher opinion, popularity, advocacy and trend setting imagery all reduced Apple’s perceived advantage above the competition.

Although recognised as different, in 1998 Apple lacked the leadership credentials to entice stronger bonding and really ride the wave in this fast developing market.

The new trendSo there was clearly a need to revitalise Apple and the good news was that in 1997 Founder Steve Jobs returned to help guide the company through its recovery phase. One of his most effective early actions was to re-focus the company strategy and R&D plan back onto the core essence that made Apple successful at launch. Essentially he cut 13 R&D projects down to 2 –the G4 chip and iMac –which both fitted with Apple’s original brand proposition of ‘technical’, ‘stylish’and ‘user-friendly’.

From that point onwards Apple experienced the first profits for years, continuing to the current day with the significant arrival of Ipodin 2003. The success is evident in Apple’s share price which has shown a rising trend since 2003.

Through re-focussing, Apple has revitalised itself into a ‘Specialist’brand –it isn’t relevant to everyone, but very strong amongst a core following. Apple’s 2004 Brand Signature™still shows that it isn’t relevant to everyone (and should continue to do so today) however the factors driving this now contribute to the brands position rather than hinder it. Not meeting everyone’s needs and not connecting to just any old computer device is something which supports its Specialist nature -rather than the usage barrier seen back in 1998 (whether perceived or real). In 2004 Apple’s advantages over the competition include unaided awareness, popularity and trend setting imagery and for those who love Apple –are bonded –it has built solid leadership credentials.

Comentario: Podemos ver en este estudio realizado por Nicole Kennedy, cómo Mac hiso de la innovación y reinvención constante su estrategia más poderosa, adoptándola de tal manera que la marca hoy en día es sinónimo de vanguardia y un estándar en materia de innovación. Lo interesante es que Mac no siempre fue líder y no siempre fue un estándar en innovación. El camino de la innovación es doloroso y suele ser más exigente a través del tiempo pero si se está dispuesto a ser un REFERENTE, es el camino a seguir. Entender que el cambio es lo único constante en el tiempo y hacer de el un beneficio (no correr atrás de el) a final de cuentas hará de la compañía parte del cambio y no verlo como algo que se debe luchar diariamente. Por supuesto esto se manifiesta en la prosperidad de la compañía porque los productos han alcanzado el liderazgo y siempre es mejor correr por mantener el liderazgo que por seguir a los referentes.

Mario Fuentes E.

No comments: