Friday, March 30

Branding Power: The Bank Of Apple, Part 2 of 2

On Wednesday, I shared the interesting outcome of a survey conducted by strategic and research consultancy KAE in cooperation with online pollster Toluna. The study they conducted revealed that 10 percent of the public and almost 50 percent of all Apple customers would choose the Bank of Apple over all other bank brands.

While the survey is still speculative, there is always the possibility that Apple could reinvent the banking industry much like it helped shape the music, video, telecommunications, and publishing industries. The technology already exists to do it.

But more than the news itself, we considered how powerful a properly managed brand can become, eclipsing institutions with years of experience in one sector simply because the winning brand has continually demonstrated that it can improve any industry it happens to set its eyes upon.

Even people who aren't fans of Apple sometimes ask how it could build a company as admired as Apple overall. The answer is easier to deliver than execute, but it's remarkably simple. A company that wants to develop real brand power — enough that people will trust it outside of its own niche — has to stop worrying about profits alone and nurture something less tangible like character.

The five Ps of creating a dynamic and unforgettable brand. 

Purpose. Define who you are and what you are to offer-- a mission that defines what you do, a vision that defines where you will go, and the values you will employ to get there. It establishes the voice and character of an organization, and the willingness of a company to stay true to it makes all the difference.

Product. Innovation is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. While the most successful companies innovate products and services that the world has never seen, it can be as simple as making something more accessible or delivering it faster or creating an experience around it. Whatever that contrast in the market might be, the most critical element is meeting or exceeding expectations.

Promise. All successful communication is designed to change behavior, whether it invites someone to try a new product, shop at a new store, or help redefine an industry. Marketing, advertising, public relations, and social media not only generate attention, but also set an appropriate level of expectation.

People. It's not enough that products and services operate within the mission, vision, and values of a company; the people have to adhere to those qualities too. When done correctly, each individual person-to-person contact reinforces the brand and reputation of a company just as much as the product. The goal, through international communication and operations, is to empower people to realize the vision of the company just as much as the executive team.

Public. Perhaps even more so than years prior, companies are not only judged by their customers but also by their presence within the communities in which they operate. Sometimes it is just important for a company to meet the expectation of the friends and family of customers as they must meet those of their customers.

The character-driven brand will thrive in the future. 

Apple isn't the only company that seems to have crossed this threshold. Virgin was founded on some of these same ideas. So was Google. So was Castle Rock. So was Zappos. So was The Four Seasons. On the front end, scores have been (and some even remain) committed to those companies to this day. 

At least on the front end, all of these companies and others were less concerned about profit and product (although some leveraged product price as a means to reinforce their brand) than any of these five areas. Not only did they know the obvious, but they were unafraid to execute it.

When you think about companies almost like you might think about character development, everything is a little easier to understand (even if it is a little more complicated than that). People who nurture their character tend to excel in their professions, earn more money, attract more friends, and earn more respect. And even if all things do not come right away, they are still content in being beneficial.

People who do not — those who are always looking for an edge, chase money or steal, undermine others to look better, and insist they are entitled to authority — might experience short-term gains but eventually sputter out or perhaps even build entire organizations of discontent. There are scores of those kinds of companies too, Budget Rent A Car, Netflix, NS Goldman Sachs to consider a few.
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