Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

How Branding Will Be Apple’s Downfall

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The last few weeks have seen a bunch of lists proclaiming Apple as the brand of the decade (check out the article  from Adweek). I am not arguing that they don’t have a great brand, because they are without doubt one of the strongest and most valuable brands in the consumer space. But a key aspect of branding that is often overlooked is Internal Branding. That is, how is the brand promise shared within the company itself and how do employees live and breathe the essence of the brand.

This is where I believe Apple will eventually have a problem. The Apple brand is too tied up in the aura of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is the driving force behind the key aspects of the company’s success, including marketing and new product development, two of their biggest strengths. The man, clearly a genius, will not be around forever and when he leaves the magic of the Apple brand will diminish (not the first time this has happened to Apple!).

Contrast the internal branding of Apple to a company like Google. At Google, employees are given more freedom and are encouraged to innovate on their own. While the founders and CEO remain highly involved, regular employees have a large impact over the success of the company and no one person has the final say to the same extent that Steve Jobs does at Apple.

In the long run I think you’ll find that the Google model is much more sustainable. Internal branding that fosters a culture of innovation and creativity will outlast an individual person almost every time.


Written by benwisebranding

January 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm

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